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Vinnies counts the cost of junk donations

Disposing of donated goods that can't be used or sold costs St Vincent de Paul Society centres in NSW and the ACT more than $500,000 a year, according to Coordinator Pauline Kitson.

"This is very expensive and takes up money that should be used for the needy," she told the Catholic Weekly.

The organisation is asking people to be more careful about what they donate.

"Every year we give out $5 million worth of goods to people in need," she said, stressing the generosity of the public. "But a lot of the stuff we get - old furniture, broken crockery, toys we can't sell, shoes that can't be reused, handbags that are damaged or out of fashion - has to go straight to the tip.

Ms Kitson said that when people are planning to donate something electrical it is best to ring up the appropriate Vinnies centre and see if it can be used.

"For example, many of the electrical items we receive cannot be pulled apart and reused - such as old 486 computers. Not many people want them, the old software is not available; really they are no use to anyone. The same goes for old kettles, toasters, fans and heaters.

"Under the Sale of Goods Act in NSW we have an obligation to only sell goods of saleable quality - which means they have to be safe," she said. "Unless there is a licensed electrician to check them out and ensure they are not dangerous then we cannot sell them.

"Some Vinnies centres have licensed electricians, usually retired, who will check out donated goods, but if that can't be done we have no choice but to send them to the tip."
"There is also the problem of dangerous goods, as listed on the website of the Department of Fair Trading.

"We operate under the same rules as a retailer and are under an obligation not to sell goods that are not safe.

Catholic Weekly

St Vincent de Paul Society
Office of Fair Trading: Safe products
Sale of Goods Act

24 Jul 2003