Myths & Facts

There is NO Rubbish Fairy!

Like the Bunyip, Abominable Snowman or the Loch Ness Monster, the fabled Rubbish Fairy has been the stuff of folklore. Flying undetected through our neighbourhoods, across reserves and creeks, the fairy was said to follow close behind vehicles loaded with rubbish, picking up what dodgy dumpers left behind, before flying off to the next rubbish pile created. A widespread belief that the fairy existed seemed to reassure some that doing the right thing to dispose of unwanted stuff was optional.

In response to a growing number of illegal dumping sites, and a growing number of resident complaints, the City of Onkaparinga is issuing this public announcement:

MYTH: It's not really a crime - it's just a scare tactic.


It’s called illegal dumping for just that reason – it IS a crime!

Councils and the Environmental Protection Authority both issue fines for anyone dumping illegally or for accepting waste materials without authority. These fines can be quite a hit to your bank balance!

Council fines

$315 on the spot fine with maximum fines of up to $5,000.

Environmental Protection Authority penalties:

Dumping waste:
Waste producers or transporters who dispose of waste illegally could be fined up to $120,000 and face up to two years imprisonment and corporations face fines of up to $250,000, under clause 10 of the Environment Protection (Waste to resources) Policy 2010. Poor operators could even have their EPA licence revoked.  

Accepting waste without a licence:
If you knowingly allow waste to be dumped on your land without an appropriate licence you could be fined up to $60,000 and corporations face fines of up to $120,000, under section 36 of the Environment Protection Act 1993.

Causing environmental harm:
If you dump waste and the dumping causes environmental harm you could be liable for a fine of up to $500,000 and four years imprisonment, and corporations face fines up to $2 million under section 79 of the Environment Protection Act 1993.

MYTH: There's no way to recycle this stuff - it's easier to dump it.


It’s amazing how many things around the home can now be recycled. Of course, not everything can be recycled via the yellow recycling bin! However a solution is easy and may be just a phone call away.

  • Through our Household CleanUp services, residents can receive two free hard waste pickups and one mattress pickup per year.
  • TVs and computers can be dropped off for free at various local sites.
  • Also, there are always options to give, swap or sell your unwanted furniture, clothing, etc.

All these options are easier than dealing with the fines you can receive for dumping… 

MYTH: It’s not my problem. The council will collect it & so it won’t cost me anything!


Illegal dumping is everyone’s problem and it will cost you – whether you own or rent.

 If you see someone dumping or littering, please make a note of the location, people and vehicles involved and report them. Contact council on 8384 0666. Then we can try to identify who is responsible for this and try to put a stop to it.

There is a misconception that if stuff is left on roadsides, in creeks or reserves, the Council has a service to step in and collect these illegally dumped items — things like that old busted fridge, an unwanted TV or an outdated exercise bike. There is no such service.

When the Council is picking up illegal dumping, it is responding to a complaint about dumping from nearby residents. Sending teams out to collect and haul these dumped items to a transfer station or landfill costs money – money that comes from your rates or rent! Unfortunately illegal dumping has been increasing, which means it costs our community more each year.

Save Council (and yourselves) $250,000 a year by keeping rubbish off roads, reserves and out of creeks, and that means $250,000 more for other services.

MYTH: Putting stuff out front of my house is fine – someone will want it.


In the past there may have been an unspoken practice of putting out used items onto the kerbside with the seemingly harmless hope that someone will, in good faith, pick it up and use it. Unfortunately, this is a form of illegal dumping and a behaviour that leads to a string of unintended consequences and a possible fine as well.

A lot of items left out on the kerb are not picked up and that old couch or mattress left on the sidewalk becomes a magnet for other problems on your street — graffiti, vermin and bacteria — and it attracts even more litter and dumping. Bulky items can also block the footpath and reduce the right of way for pedestrians. It also costs the council (and you) to come and collect and dispose of it.

So the next time you see a couch on the roadside with a “free” sign attached to it, remember that illegal dumping is not free. It impacts the beauty and cleanliness of our city and there is a better way to get rid of it.

MYTH: It’s cheaper to dump it than it is to pay to take it to landfill.


Illegal dumping may seem appealing when compared to handing out a wad of money for landfill fees.  So stuff gets dumped, and then others see the piles of rubbish and see this as an unspoken signal to go ahead and dump there, too. The problem is that it then costs everybody when council has to waste rates monies to pay for collection and disposal of the illegal dumping.

Before dumping, consider how many of the things you want to get rid of might be recyclable or suitable to give away, swap or sell. This may take a little time and effort, but it’s still cheaper than dealing with the fines you can receive for dumping.

If those options don’t suit, then what about considering council’s Household Cleanup services?

Once you’ve explored these options, you’ll be amazed at how little you might have to take to landfill – and how little that will cost you, compared to what you faced paying when you considered dumping as an alternative!

MYTH: It's not dangerous.


There are unintended and potentially hazardous consequences to illegal dumping: The majority of those who dump do not realize the negative impacts they are placing on themselves, their communities and the environment:

  • Dump sites attract more litter and dumping and can become havens for vermin, putting neighbours at risk of infestation and exposure to disease.
  • Dumping in creeks and more remote areas can speed up erosion and impact local plant and wildlife. Runoff can pollute the water and leach into the water table, tainting our water.
  • Large appliances such as refrigerators release hydroflurocarbons into the atmosphere, which break up the ozone, while forgotten tyres become breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitos.
MYTH: Tossing away green waste is OK. It breaks down & is good for the plants.


Dumping garden waste and lawn clippings in reserves or creek lines, is one of the main ways that weeds, pests and diseases escape from gardens and start growing in bushland and waterways. It also creates fire hazards, smothers native plants and can destroy wildlife habitats.

Dumping garden waste can attract illegal dumping fines starting from $315. Before dumping, consider other options available to dispose of your garden waste:

  • Council’s free green organics drop-off service
  • Additional green organics bins
  • Subsidised composting bins – why not compost at home and let your garden reap the benefits?
  • For larger volumes you may want to contact come commercial services – they may not be as expensive as you think (compared to what you faced paying when you considered dumping as an alternative!).

If you suspect someone is illegally dumping waste, contact our Customer Service Centre on (08) 8384 0666.