Are bins already left out fair game for other people’s rubbish?
Are bins already left out fair game for other people’s rubbish?

Can you use your neighbour’s bin?

IT'S late at night, you've got a few extra wine bottles rolling around from the weekend, and a wad of packaging from your Sunday afternoon Kmart frenzy. But your council bin's chocka.

Do you hold onto your extra rubbish for another week? Or do you cast your eye over the fence to your neighbour's bin, sitting there half empty.

Known among seasoned offenders as "reverse hoboing", is there anything wrong with lobbing a few items in with next door's weekly trash?

Newstalk ZB host Marcus Lush put the question of neighbourly bin etiquette to listeners this week.

"If your neighbour's wheelie bin is half full, can you do what you like in it?" he asked.

Caller "John" wasn't keen. "Oh nah, not really," he said.

"I know my neighbours. I like them. I'd want to ask them first, I think."

But "it's just space," Lush countered. "Why can't you put your rubbish in their bin without asking?"

John said he thought "if my neighbours knew I was putting my rubbish in their bins they wouldn't like it - I'd let them put their stuff in mine but I'd just talk to them first".

Another caller reckoned it's all about timing. "If it's out and it's going to be collected the next day, it's free," they said.

"It's fair game. Surely, it's free space. If it's the night before collection, their bins out and it's half full, I don't see the problem with that at all.

"If it's outside their house, like during the week, and you're filling their bin up with your rubbish, that's not on."

Lush deduced, "So if it's on the road, half full, ka pai (serves you right). Chuck your stuff in it."

But neighbourly etiquette musings aside, what's technically allowed when it comes to dumping your household rubbish?

The NZ Heraldspoke to Terry Coe, Auckland Council's Acting General Manager Waste Solutions. "Placing items into another person's bin is a Bylaw Breach under the Auckland Council Solid Waste Bylaw 2012," he said.

And a breach could result in prosecution.

"The bin is the responsibility of the property owner, however the council itself owns the bin. If you have concerns someone is dumping illegally into your bin, we encourage you to contact us immediately so that our Waste team can investigate."

However, complaints to Auckland Council are few - just four this year.

- This article originally appeared on NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission