Australians know the ibis as the bin chicken because of its habit of raiding urban garbage bins and dumpsters. The bin chicken was poised to become our favourite bird of the year in 2017, the reasons given being that we respected it as a great survivor. Ousted from its native habitats in central Australia, it had moved into our cities and proved itself to be a more adaptable, resilient urban dweller than we humans were. It fed on garbage but it looked us in the eye with its strange dark beady stare, and it took to city life in a way that we could only admire.
Now there is a breed of humans who have taken on the bin chicken’s name. These are people who raid garbage bins for recyclable cans and bottles. The trouble is that they are raiding their neighbours bins and public bins and spreading a good deal of refuse around in the process. The idea of recyclables was to reduce rubbish. The bin chickens are creating more surface litter as they search the bins, and they are carrying their salvage to reverse vending machines in boxes which they then leave on the street beside the machine.
The other problem is that these cans and bottles would have made an income for the waste industry if they had come directly to them. The contents of the domestic and public recycle bins would have ended up in a recycling plant which would have claimed the refund but, as a result of the activities of the bin chickens, the recycling industry is finding the pickings rather lean.
The bin chickens are undeterred.