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SA Who Own the Objects Thrown into a Rubbish Bin?

Discussion in 'Other/General Law Forum' started by Les Laub, 30 May 2014.

  1. Les Laub

    Les Laub Well-Known Member

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    In South Australia there is a 10c refund on drink containers. People often throw these containers into bins when they have finished with them. I note that the Adelaide City Council (and probably every other Council) is delighted when people retrieve these, collect the deposit and then recycle the container.

    The Adelaide Central Market Authority has banned the collection of cans from bins in the market, supposedly on health grounds. I suspect that cans which have been discarded don't belong to the Central Market Authority and consequently may be taken by anyone once they are discarded?
     
  2. winston wolf

    winston wolf Well-Known Member

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    I think the cans belong to the bin owner or person/body responsible for the bin, in this case the Adelaide Central Market Authority. We all know the true reason for the ban would be to keep the "undesirables" and their trolleys out of the market.
    Hopefully this wont spread as the collectors preform a useful service which helps us all.
     
  3. Les Laub

    Les Laub Well-Known Member

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    So you are saying ownership of the can passes from the purchaser to the owner of the bin once the can is thrown into the bin. Seems a bit odd to me - if I decided to then take the can back out of the bin would I be stealing? What if I inadvertently tossed my wallet into the bin - would that belong to the bin owner?
    The Market Authority claims the rule is in place to prevent people from catching hepatitis and then suing the council (even though the council is not the owner of the bin!!!).
     
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    I am not a South Australian lawyer,
    so factor that in when you decide how much notice to take of this reply.

    As a general rule of law, an item of property vests somewhere at all times.
    There is no concept of property that nobody owns.

    In this case, what a drinker is doing when they throw a bottle in a bin,
    is "assigning" (which is lawyer-speak for "giving") their property rights in the bottle,
    to the bin owner.

    The bin owner already has existing property rights in the bin - because it's their bin.
    One of those rights is the right to control access to that bin.
    Not that they need one, but they have a reason upon which
    they have chosen to exercise that right - "health grounds".

    What about the ten cent deposit, you ask?
    The drinker assigned their right to that money to the Market Authority
    when they put the bottle in the bin.
    Could the Market Authority collect all the bottles and get the money for itself?
    Potentially, although it would probably be uneconomic to do so.
     
  5. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    In grossly oversimplified terms - depending on a few ifs and buts (like intent!) then potentially, yes.
    Only if it was your intention, or if you didn't care either way.
    It is typical of these kinds of things to be driven by public liability concerns.
     
    winston wolf likes this.
  6. winston wolf

    winston wolf Well-Known Member

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    We all have many rights that we choose not to enforce.
    Well this is what happens when we blindly take legal advise. Lawyers are by their training risk averse. Or its a convenient excuse?
     
  7. Les Laub

    Les Laub Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies - I guess its obvious that the Adelaide Market Authority is using its powers to keep homeless people away from their bins. As a rough guess, some 2,000 cans and bottles hit the bins each day in the market and that would mean $200 a day to charities or homeless people if they were to be allowed to collect them.
    I did turn up an interesting side point however, under SA's Local Government Act, the contents of bins and other rubbish put out for collection belongs to the council. Once the Adelaide Market Authority puts its big bin out, it would also belong to the Council and people would be permitted under council approval to retreive the cans.
    However, I bet the Market Authority locks its bins.
    Thanks all, I did try.
     
  8. Les Laub

    Les Laub Well-Known Member

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    I strted a conversation a few weeks ago about soft drink cans in the Adelaide Central Market - their latest innovation is a sign posted all over the food halls that (quote) food and drink must only be consumed in the food hall and may not be removed except in take-away containers". The way I read the sign is that a half- finshed soft drink cans now cannot be taken out of the food hall except in a take-away container. Now I know I purchased the drink and own it, shouldn't I be able to consume it where I wish?
     
  9. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi Les,
    I'm not familiar with the Adelaide Central Market but have you asked the Market's Management to explain the increasing list of rules and regulations that they appear to be imposing to frustrate your patronage at the Market?
     
  10. Les Laub

    Les Laub Well-Known Member

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    Good luck John, they virtually told me that they could do as they wished - they even have security gurds patrolling the tables now!!!!
     

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