A charity is being plagued by rogue rubbish-tippers using its donation bins to dump household waste.

Essex and Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) is spending £1,000 a week sorting and disposing of the waste being left in bins meant for donations to be sold in nine shops across Essex and Hertfordshire.

The air ambulance charity, which receives no regular government funding and relies on donations and fundraising events, is calling on people to stop disposing of rubbish at its collection warehouse which reopened on June 29.

Donna Lee, the charity’s head of retail, said: “As well as staff facing the disgusting and time-consuming job of sorting through other people’s domestic waste, it’s currently costing us in the region of £1,000 a week to dispose of it using industrial skips. That is money that should be helping to keep our life-saving service operational.

“The first box I opened this morning was full of old birthday and Christmas cards. Someone had even gone to the trouble of cutting out the names so that we couldn’t see who they were from. Inside the box there were used tissues, empty bottles of aftershave, a mouldy deodorant stick empty, empty bottles and petrol receipts.

“This is a daily occurrence at the moment. We will now be asking donors to put their items in clear plastic bags or open the bags so that we can see what is inside. This will add to the time it takes to leave donations, but we are confident that anyone who genuinely wants to support their local air ambulance by donating items that can be sold will be happy to spend a few minutes longer doing so.”

Newly-donated items are quarantined for 72 hours before staff handle them.

EHAAT asks people to make sure all donated items are sellable: that toys are in full working order, games contain all the pieces, and that all clothes are clean and stain-free.

The charity is currently unable to accept donations of CDs, books, videos and DVDs due to the huge volume of these items that we have received recently.

EHAAT’s shop in Hitchin will be the first to one to reopen on July 11, followed by Royston on July 18 and Buntingford on July 25.

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