Broken, stained or mouldy items including fridges and mattresses are being dumped outside Rotorua charity stores daily - with the cost falling back on those trying to help.
Store workers have shared horror stories including finding poo smeared throughout a bag of donated clothes and clothes covered in mould after being dumped in the rain.
Rotorua's Habitat for Humanity ReStore volunteer Andrew Boyd said the store was seeing "broken, stained, ripped or mouldy" items dumped outside their doors every day.
He said people would often come by the shop after hours to leave things such as furniture, fridges, microwaves, beds and mattresses, all in bad condition and unsaleable.
There had even been a case where a person had dropped off a rubbish bag of clothes then someone had come along and pooed in the bag, he said.
Boyd volunteered at the store five days a week and said things like this were disheartening to those giving their time.
The store was making regular trips to the local refuse transfer station to get rid of the dumped goods at a cost to themselves and also regularly filling up a skip bin, he said.
Funds made from the store went back into the community, with Boyd saying that the cost was taking money that would have benefitted everyone in the city.
This, however, was not a new issue for the region, with the Rotorua Daily Post previously reporting how charity shops were totting up dump costs throwing away "rusty, chipped or badly stained" donated goods.
Manager at Tauranga's Doing Good Foundation store Shelly Rey said stained and ripped mattresses and mouldy sofas were just some of the things workers found dumped outside their store after the holiday period, but also on a regular basis.
She said the dumping of broken, unwanted goods outside their store was an "ongoing issue" and they were taking more than a vanload a month to the dump at a cost out of their own pocket.
"People are seeing us as an alternate option to the dump."
The store had seen a spike in dumping over the holiday period. They had a broken barbecue, sofas, chairs, mattresses and a bed, all in terrible condition, waiting to go to the dump, she said.
"It really is a big issue."
The Salvation Army operated Family Stores across the Bay of Plenty where donated goods were sold to allow the organisation to do its work in the community.
Spokeswoman Louise Parry said the store often ran into trouble when people left items outside of opening hours and goods were strewn across the front of their stores when they returned to work.
"It's heartbreaking for them to see that many of the donations have been spoilt from being left outside in the weather and are therefore unable to be sold."
She said they had a lot of "unsaleable donations" due to them being "broken, damaged, stained, unhygienic or not meeting required safety standards".
People also sometimes dumped rubbish outside the store, which posed a health risk to staff, he said.
"We have limited available volunteers to help with sorting, cleaning and restocking which makes sorting rubbish from saleable items very time-consuming, and that affects the quantity of fresh stock we can get out on the shelves for our customers."
She said many councils throughout the country were choosing to prosecute people who left goods in public access spaces outside charity stores, and the Salvation Army was willing to provide CCTV footage where available.
"This is an issue that is a community one and it is often the local council rubbish collectors who have to contend with it."
She said they did still get a "great amount of quality goods and labelled clothing that make for very affordable fashion for families on a tight budget".
A worker at Rotorua's St Vincent De Paul Shop, who asked not to be named, said she had come back from the Christmas break to find four large loads of dumped clothing outside their door.
She said all of the items were soaking wet and beginning to grow mould when store staff found them outside.
People often had "cleanouts" around the summer and chose to "dump unwanted stuff" at secondhand shops without a thought, she said, not considering who would pay to get rid of it.
She said she had put a sign up asking people not to leave donations out of shop hours for this reason but it had not worked.
Rotorua Lakes Council's waste services and sustainability manager Prashant Praveen said illegal dumping in any location was a community issue that required a "long-term community ownership approach".
The council dealt with illegal dumping on public land but did not have jurisdiction to deal with incidents of dumping on private property.
However, these matters could be reported to the police, he said.
"We have not had any recent requests from local charity stores in relation to dumping outside their stores. It is not a nice situation to deal with for anyone and in the past, we have helped with removal when there have been instances of dumping outside charity stores on a case-by-case basis."
Illegal dumping and littering were governed by the Litter Act 1979 and councils could either issue an infringement or file charges.
This decision would be made in accordance with the type and severity of the littering or dumping.
An infringement can be up to $400 and a fine resulting from prosecution can be up to $5000 per individual involved. If the litter could endanger someone or cause injury or sickness, for example, broken bottles, the fine can be up to $7500 per person involved.