Do you own your yellow bin rubbish?

Theft?: Residents have spotted people taking bottles and cans from recycling bins so they can receive money from the return and earn machine.
Theft?: Residents have spotted people taking bottles and cans from recycling bins so they can receive money from the return and earn machine.

Do you own your recycling rubbish? 

That’s the question some Young locals want to be answered after the introduction of a 'return and earn' machine to the town.

The new machine in Young has been good for enterprising local charities and children looking to turn discarded bottles and cans into money. 

At the Woolworths machine, there are often queues of people, some with hundreds of bottles and cans. Some children in Young have been doorknocking homes asking for bottles. 

That is the bright side of the story, but a more sinister development has many locals worried and confused over ownership of their discarded bottles and cans.

People have been spotted at night taking bottles and cans from the council, yellow-lid recycling bins to take to the Woolworths machine where they get the money.

Bill Yeomans said he recently noticed a woman walking up and down Currawong Street with a torch and plastic bags, looking in everyone's recycling bins for plastic bottles to take.

“I purposely filled the bin with bottles, because the recycling company that employs disabled people would get the money for them,” he said.

“I don’t fill my bin with cans and bottles and take the time to recycle for someone to take them all out of the bin.

“If I had children door-knocking asking for the bottles, I’d probably give them to them, but I just don’t think people should be sneakily taking them from our bins at night time.”

What Mr Yeomans and many other locals want to know is; is taking from a bin that is not yours theft?

The bottles and cans in the council scheme go to the Elouera Association which sorts them and sells them to recycling centres. 

Elouera employs people with a disability; if it doesn't get the material, it can’t sell it on.

Elouera Association CEO Allan Young said it's too early to assess the impact of the new scheme on them.

“We have had some reduction in bottles and cans but not at the levels we expected,” he said.

“In anticipation of the return and earn scheme starting up we have been actively promoting that if you do put your recycling in your yellow top bin, you are donating to Elouera.”

A Hilltops Council spokesperson encouraged people to donate to Elouera by using the Council provided bin.

The legalities are perplexing. If it’s an ordinary waste bin, the bottle or can wouldn’t have been recycled so the taker is removing what would have ended up as landfill.  But if it’s from a yellow-top recycling bin, does the rubbish in it belong to the council or Elouera?