Recycling creates jobs for people with disabilities

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IMPACT Community Services is supporting people with disabilities who want to be part of the local workforce through jobs at the city’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF), owned by Bundaberg Regional Council and managed by IMPACT Community Services.  

IMPACT provides around 27 jobs at the facility for employees with disabilities under the Australian Government’s Australian Disability Enterprise. All of the waste from Council’s yellow-top kerbside recycling bins is processed at the MRF, which is located on University Drive in Bundaberg. 

IMPACT’s manager of Australian Disability Enterprises Tim Van Kooten said the MRF provides a supportive work environment that allows workers to reach their full potential in this field of work. 
“The Material Recovery Facility has a happy and motivated workforce, and some of our employees have been with IMPACT for more than 30 years,” he said. 

Mr Van Kooten said each week the Material Recovery Facility processes around 38 council kerbside trucks of recycling – equal to around 114 tonnes of recyclable waste. 

“The content is hand sorted, baled and sold to be made into new products,” Mr Van Kooten said. 

“We also process commercial recycling, which is about 40 tonnes per week.” 

The MRF is also the home of IMPACT’s first Container Refund Point, opened in 2018 as part of the Containers For Change scheme, which encourages Queenslanders to recycle drink containers by offering a 10 cent refund for every eligible container returned. 

A second Container Refund Point, located at Green Solutions on Windermere Road, Qunaba, opened opened last year to keep up with the demand from Bundaberg residents and offer another convenient location for collecting container refunds. 

Since IMPACT Launched their first Container Refund Point at University Drive in 2018, they’ve recycled more than 14,200,000 containers and put around $1.5 million back into the pockets of Bundaberg residents. 

Two local businesses dedicated to recycling, have teamed up to make turning your containers into change even more accessible for the region’s coastal community.

With a specifically-modified 40ft shipping container, IMPACT Community Services and Green Solutions Wide Bay have opened a new Containers for Change refund point which is located at 417 Windermere Road, Qunaba.

The Refund Point container has been fitted out with solar power complete with a back-up battery system. The refund Point will create 6 employment positions for local people.

The Containers for Change scheme in Queensland is run and founded by Container Exchange (COEX), a not-for-profit organisation.

Under the scheme, residents can take their eligible containers (which generally display a 10c refund mark) to a refund point to cash in their recyclables.

You can request this refund via cash, or you can sign up for a scheme ID and choose to get your refund paid to your bank account, PayPal or favourite cause.

This innovative and collaborative approach to the mobile container refund point is understood to be the first of its kind for COEX.

It will be stationed at Green Solutions Wide Bay’s state-of-the-art open windrow composting facility on Windermere Rd and operated by IMPACT Community Services.

Opening times will be Monday to Friday 8.00am till 3.30pm and Saturdays 9.30 till 1.30pm.

Green Solutions provides Wide Bay residents with a free and convenient green waste drop-off and disposal site that turns green waste into compost.

Nathan Freeman, General Manager at Green Solutions Wide Bay, said: "we are super excited to be working with such a wonderful local organisation in IMPACT Community Services. This partnership will benefit the environment and our wider region, which is the heart of our business."

IMPACT Community Services social enterprises manager Rob Henderson commended Green Solutions Wide Bay for their commitment to recycling and collaboration, helping bring great results for the environment and job opportunities to the region.

This new Refund Point will be run by IMPACT in addition to the refund point at University Drive.

IMPACT hopes the Qunaba site will make recycling containers for change more convenient for residents throughout the region.

For more information visit https://greensolutionswidebay.com.au/ or phone 0418 800 398.

Further details about Containers for Change are available at https://www.containersforchange.com.au/qld/

IMPACT Community Services is encouraging Bundaberg residents to recycle their containers in exchange for the opportunity to win one of two $50 WISH vouchers (valid at a wide range of shops including Woolworths & Big W).

Throughout the months of April and May, all customers who recycle their containers at our Container Refund Point located at 78 University Drive can opt to enter the competition.

Ensuring you’re in the draw is easy; simply fill out the entry form when you drop off your bottles.

Entries are only open to container refund point customers - one entry per visit.

IMPACT’s container refund point is open from 7.30am-4pm weekdays (last customer received at 3.30pm) and 8am-midday on Saturdays.

Terms & Conditions

 Anyone (except IMPACT staff & their immediate families) is eligible to win.

Prizes will be drawn on 2 May 2022 & 6 June 2022. 

Winners will be notified via the phone number provided on their entry form. 

The results will also be published on IMPACT’s Facebook page.

If the winner does not claim the prize within 4 weeks of being notified, the prize will be redrawn.  

This competition is run by IMPACT Community Service’s Marketing and Communications department.

All sections of the form must be completed in order for the entry to be valid.

It can sometimes be a little tricky and overwhelming to know exactly how to recycle when so many different products are made from a range of materials.

But now there's an app to help take the guess work out of what goes in your yellow-top bin, what needs to be taken to special drop off points and what's general waste - Recycle Mate.

You can use the camera function or search from over 4,000 items in Recycle Mate's comprehensive directory to find out the best disposal option for your items.

Speaking with Bundaberg Now, Bundaberg Regional Council's Waste and Recycling portfolio spokesperson Cr Tanya McLoughlin encouraged residents to download the app to receive quick and convenient access to local recycling information.

“Residents have a proven desire to recycle correctly and reduce what goes to landfill, but often feel unsure if they are always getting it right,” she said.

“This innovative app uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology to detect hundreds of different items to find the best local disposal option.

“Simply take a photo with your device’s camera or type the item name and Recycle Mate will provide disposal options specific to our region.”

The items that you place in the yellow-top bins collected by the council go to their Material Recovery Facility on University Dr which is managed by IMPACT Community Services.

IMPACT staff sort by hand all the items that you put into your recycling bins.

At the Recycling and Collections Centre we employ 27 workers with disability under the Australian Government’s NDIS Social Enterprise program.

We provide a supported work environment where our staff help individual workers identify areas to grow their skills and undertake any training to assist in achieving their goals.

Download the Recycle Mate app from Google Play or the App Store.

For more information on recycling dos and don'ts visit the council's website here for a breakdown of recyclable materials.

Recycle Mate is an initiative of the Australian Council of Recycling with funding support from the Australian Government's Environment Restoration Fund program. Adaptation Environmental Support is the program delivery partner.

The region's can-do attitude to recycling is undoubtedly growing!

IMPACT Community Services' Container Refund Point on University Dr has witnessed a massive increase throughout the last year and December with more than a 100% increase.

IMPACT's Enterprises General Manager Robert Henderson said according to the COEX figures we had an "exceptional December" with figures up 180% on the previous year at the CRP.

He said throughout 2021 we also achieved a 108% increase on the previous year.

"This shows that recycling is being taken up by the Local Community," he said.

When you recycle with Containers for Change, you get a 10-cent refund for every eligible container you return.

Most aluminium, glass, plastic, steel and liquid paperboard beverage containers between 150ml and 3L are eligible for a 10 cent refund - they typically have a 10c refund mark on them.

You can check the eligibility by visiting the Containers for Change here.

Some of the items that are not eligible include:

IMPACT's Container Refund Point is located at 78 University Dr and open from 7.30am to 4pm on weekdays and 8am to midday on Saturdays.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on recycling.

During the holidays and ahead of a new year, typically signifies a time for cleaning, decluttering, and cleansing – out with the old to make way for the new.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

While a refreshed and organised home is a fantastic way to start the new year, it’s important not to litter your broader environment in the process and know what to recycle.

How do you get rid of broken decorations, lights, plastic trees?

IMPACT Community Services manages the Bundaberg Regional Council’s Material Recovery Facility on University Drive, where our staff sort by hand all the items that you put into your recycling bins.

At the Recycling and Collections Centre we employ 27 workers with disability under the Australian Government’s NDIS Social Enterprise program.

We provide a supported work environment where our staff help individual workers identify areas to grow their skills and undertake any training to assist in achieving their goals.

In the lead up to the festive period, our team has shared some helpful information about recycling.

Fake trees and decorations are not recyclable, we can take the string of lights, however people are urged to tie them up securely, so they do not tangle in the machinery.

If your wrapping paper and boxes have tape on them, they can still be recycled, so be sure to pop them in the yellow-topped bins.

Batteries on the other hand are a big no to going in either wheelie bin. Car batteries leak acid and contaminate the loads and smaller batteries end up in landfill.

If you want to recycle batteries, please take them to the Council battery recycling centres.

Queenslanders go through 2.7 billion drink containers each year and for those looking to turn their eligible containers into cash, our team at IMPACT’s Container Refund Point are here to help.

IMPACT’S Container Refund Centre at 78 University Dr is open from 7.30am to 4pm weekdays and 8am-midday on Saturday.

Most aluminum, glass, plastic, steel, and liquid paperboard beverage containers between 150ml and 3L are eligible for a 10-cent refund.

Throughout the festive season the Container refund Centre will be open as usual with exceptions of the public holidays when it will be closed.

At the Container Refund Centre you can get your 10-cent cash refund for eligible containers, or download the Containers for Change app, register, then stop and drop your tagged bags with us and the money is directly deposited into your account.

For more information click here.

The tremendous work done by the IMPACT Community Service staff at the Material Recovery Facility has been praised by fellow employees, IMPACT’s board chair Leanne Rudd, Bundaberg Regional Council Cr Tanya McLoughlin and Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith during a staff award presentation.

Three employees in particular were commended for their long service and dedication at the recycling facility: Brendan Stubbs, Warren Male and Nathan Last.

Their hard work, alongside their colleagues, has resulted in tonnes of containers sorted and recycled rather than ending up in landfill or littered throughout the environment.

While today marks the start of National Recycling Week, it's business as usual for our team at the recycling facility.

With Bundaberg’s population continuing to grow, their work was essential to ensuring Bundaberg is tidy.

IMPACT employs about 27 workers with disabilities under the Australian Government's Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) to sort through all of the waste from council's yellow-top bins.

The MRF is owned by Bundaberg Regional Council and managed by IMPACT Community Services at 78 University Dr.

There is also a refund point which lets people get a 10 cent refund for each eligible container returned as part of the Containers for Change scheme.

Brendan Stubbs was recognised for 10-years-service, Warren Male was recognised for 15-years-service and Nathan Last was recognised for 20-years-service.

For more information about the MRF click here.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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