Vale Peter Quarmby - Vinnies Executive Officer, humanitarian, leader, supporter of Return and Earn and friend
The team behind Return and Earn, including staff from the NSW Environment Protection Authority, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator TOMRA Cleanaway, were saddened to learn of the passing of longtime friend and supporter of the scheme, Peter Quarmby, this week following a long battle with illness.
Peter was a man who delivered incredible value to the community in many different ways. He was a passionate entrepreneur, a distinguished social enterprise leader, and a dedicated humanitarian committed to assisting those in need across the community.
It was these qualities that led Peter to become one of the foundational supporters and advocates for Return and Earn. His influence and work with the scheme, through his role as Executive Officer at Vinnies, has resulted in a remarkable legacy visible across the state with multiple Vinnies return points providing local job opportunities and revenue to support Vinnies’ community programs and activities.
In 2017, TOMRA Cleanaway approached Vinnies NSW to partner on hosting container deposit points. Peter immediately jumped at the chance to be involved. Although partnering with Return and Earn, a new government initiative at the time, was a bold move for a traditional social enterprise like Vinnies, Peter’s vision and confidence in the scheme were soon proven to be well-founded and the partnership rapidly demonstrated enormous benefit to both parties.
Peter’s legacy includes the ongoing environmental, social and economic benefits that continue to be delivered through Vinnies’ six bulk automated depot locations across NSW. These sites are already responsible for processing more than 100 million containers since the launch of the scheme in December 2017.
Container recycling on this scale makes a real difference to long-term environmental sustainability, with the Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Unanderra, South Nowra, Cardiff and Penrith automated depots allowing thousands of NSW citizens to return containers for recycling each day.
Peter’s vision for the Vinnies container deposit network also created much needed regional employment. In Dubbo, a partnership with indigenous social enterprise REDI.E to host an automated depot provides income, jobs and training.
Peter’s trademark optimism meant he always saw Return and Earn as an opportunity to open a new and innovative recycling arm for the Vinnies NSW organization. This activity he thought would enable Vinnies to maintain its traditional focus on supporting vulnerable members of our community, while channeling a bold new world of recycling to create an additional income stream. In Peter’s words, “the power that can be generated from this is just enormous. It can be catalytic for change. There’s an opportunity … grab it and turn it into what you need it to be. And that’s what Vinnies has done.”
Peter will be fondly remembered by everyone at Return and Earn for his sense of optimism and positivity, and will be sadly missed by all who had the privilege to know him. Farewell Peter and thank you for all the ways you made NSW a better, fairer and more sustainable state.