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Items surrendered by Brisbane Airport travelers, who may be unaware of international flight carry-on regulations, are helping Queenslanders grappling with the challenges posed by the cost of living crisis and domestic violence.  

  • 14.5 tonnes of food and personal care items donated to Queenslanders in need 
  • 88 supermarket trollies full of new products diverted from landfill 
  • 10,000 items distributed by GIVIT to homeless Queenslanders and people fleeing domestic violence.


Department of Home Affairs safety regulations limit quantities of powders, liquids, aerosols and gels that can be taken in carry-on baggage when travelling internationally.  

This has led to the surrender of thousands of items at airport security, including Vegemite, peanut butter, Nutella, honey, manuka honey, soy sauce, shampoo, beauty products, sunscreen, perfumes, deodorant and toothpaste. 

In the past year, Brisbane Airport donated 14.5 tonnes of items to charities, or the equivalent of 88 supermarket trolleys filled to the brim. 

“Discarding these items into landfill, particularly during a cost of living crisis makes no sense. Brisbane Airport goes to great lengths to ensure useful products are distributed to charities on the frontline helping Queenslanders in need,” according to Peter Doherty, Media & Corporate Affairs Manager at Brisbane Airport. 

“Many people are unaware that a jar or tube of Vegemite over 100g can’t be carried onto an international flight, and as a result, passengers are surrendering huge amounts of Australia’s favourite spread.  So the advice is to pack these items in your checked-in baggage.” 

Personal care items including shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste are donated to GIVIT which distributes the items to more than 25 organisations across Brisbane. 

“Through our partnership with Brisbane Airport, GIVIT was able to divert over 10,000 usable toiletries from landfill last year and distribute them to people experiencing hardship across the Brisbane region.

This included domestic and family violence services, people experiencing homelessness as well as families struggling with the rising cost of living.

These small donations, many of which we all take for granted in our daily lives, have a big impact on people doing it tough, with the added benefit of keeping items out of the waste stream,” according to Christina Spehr, GIVIT Queensland Manager. 

Unopened fresh food and drink are donated to Vinnies as well as Hands & Feet which delivers food to churches and charities that distribute them. 

“Demand is quite high. We are most definitely grateful because we don’t normally get these types of products donated to us so it’s a real bonus for those in need,” according to David Graham from Hands & Feet. 

Travellers are also coming unstuck by attempting to take more than 100ml of alcohol through security in their carry-on luggage.  

In the past year, 323 bottles of wine and spirits have been surrendered at security screening points. The donation of these items to Kedron Wavell Services Club has resulted in $4,577 being given to Mates4Mates to support current and ex-serving Defence Force members and their families experiencing physical injuries, mental health impacts and social disconnection. 

“Take the time to understand what you can carry onto an international flight so you don’t have to hand over any items you’ve paid good money for, but please know, any unopened items which are surrendered are going to Queenslanders who need it.  

“Every time our security team locates a prohibited item takes extra time at the screening point which slows everyone down, so getting it right will speed up everyone’s journey.” 

The reduction in waste is part of Brisbane Airport’s sustainability focus, which sees the airport now recycle 25.5% of its waste, with a target of zero waste to landfill by 2030. 

Information on exactly what is permitted is available on the Department of Home Affairs website. 

Domestic flights from the Domestic Terminal are not subject to the same restrictions. 

In 2023, 21.5 million people travelled through Brisbane’s Airport, with 16.6 million flying through the Domestic Terminal and 4.8 million via the International Terminal.