Automated depot in Grafton encourages responsible recycling and supports the community
Kellie Gregor and her partner Abel Burchell have been running the Return and Earn automated depot in Grafton since shortly after the Return and Earn container deposit scheme launched in NSW.
Kellie says that the business is getting more and more customers as word gets out.
“It’s just getting bigger and bigger. Once people realised how quick and easy it is to return containers through the automated depot, it really grew,” she says. “The customers don’t need to sort the containers themselves, they can just throw them all together and we do the rest.”
As business grew, Kellie and Abel started to think about ways to make it easier for people to bring large volumes of containers in. Customers used whatever they had on hand, such as non-recyclable bags, or wet, flimsy cardboard cartons. Then one night they decided to just order their own custom designed bags for customers.
“Initially we just got a couple hundred bags and gave them away to see how they would go,” Kellie says. “People loved them, so we got more and then decided to sell them for $2 each and give the money to a good cause”
The first cause they chose to donate to were Grafton Hospital’s nurses. “We have a nurse who comes regularly and saves all her refund money to spend on the kids in the Children’s Ward. So we wanted to give something back to the nurses, they work so hard, even more so now with COVID-19.”
Kellie says how the nurses spend the money is entirely up to them, whether for equipment or simple luxuries for the break room.
The fundraising began in May last year, and so far they have raised nearly $10,000. Money comes from the bag sales, but Kellie says customers often drop a few dollars from their container refunds into the tin as well.
Over the months, the Return and Earn automated depot in Grafton has also donated to the local surf lifesaving clubs, a local neighbourhood house and community transport.
“Next month we’ll think of someone else to donate to, so everyone gets a fair go,” she says. “There are lots of clubs in small towns that don’t get much, like sporting or youth clubs, even just a little bit helps them out, and it encourages everyone to keep recycling and doing the right thing.”
“We hope to continue this for as long as we can, it’s all about helping out, even just a little bit,” says Kellie.
Since Return and Earn launched in December 2017, the scheme has helped raise millions of dollars for charities, schools and community groups in NSW. An online toolkit on for fundraising with the scheme can be found here.