Enterprise

Waste recycling social enterprise steps up to employ locals, diverts 82 tonnes of waste – ABC News


After three tedious years of handing out resumes, James Holder has found a job he adores.

“I love it,” he said.

“Everyday is a blessing just having work and having something to do with life and actually getting somewhere, it’s a lovely thing, it’s awesome.”

The 21-year-old landed a gig at Rockhampton’s newly revamped community recycling centre and waste transfer station, Reviva Ibis, in May.

“My job employment [agency] got it for me,” he said.

“They rang me up and asked me if I was willing to do an interview. I told them, ‘Put me up for anything’,” he said.

Mr Holder was raised in Mount Morgan, a town of about 2,900 people, south-west of Rockhampton.

“I spent three years, non-stop looking, putting my resume in to every place I could,” he said.

“But because I didn’t have the skills I couldn’t get a job, and this place is helping me develop new skills.”

‘Waste to wages’

Queensland regional youth unemployment statistics released in June showed a slight decrease of 0.6 per cent in the unemployment rate for 15 to 24-year-olds between May 2020 and May 2021.

However, the statistics were more favourable for young Central Queenslanders with a 6.5 per cent plunge from 15.2 to 8.7 per cent.

Outback Queensland had the highest youth unemployment rate, rising from 18.7 to 38.8 – a hike of 20.1 per cent.

Resource Recovery Australia (RRA) Queensland manager Jeff Prater said Reviva Ibis was based on a social enterprise model, designed to divert waste from landfill and provide jobs to people facing barriers to employment.

“Our business model is waste to wages,” he said.

“So what we’re all about is creating local jobs for people in the community.”

A smiling man in a blue shirt
 Resource Recovery Australia’s Jeff Prater. (

ABC Capricornia: Lucy Loram

)

RRA runs similar ‘Reviva’ facilities at sites across Queensland and New South Wales.

Since opening in May, the Rockhampton location has employed 13 locals.

“We’ve provided training opportunities for our staff so that includes forklift, test and tag, health and safety representative training, retail training and first aid,” Mr Prater said.

“That creates improved job opportunities for them as well.

He said customers brought recyclables such as cardboard, oils, batteries, gas bottles or paint to the recycling centre where staff looked for items that could be “re-purposed, recycled, reused and sold through the shop”.

Heaps of tables, chairs and other outdoor furniture, blue sky and green grass hill in background.
Outdoor furniture can be diverted from landfill.(

ABC Capricornia: Lucy Loram

)

‘Zero-waste community by 2050’

In just six weeks, Mr Prater said Reviva Ibis Rockhampton had diverted more than 82-tonnes of waste from landfill.

“That includes 20 tonnes from our community recycling centre that’s been reclaimed, 11.7 tonnes reclaimed from the waste transfer station and the various stockpiles in the facility, also 50.6 tonne in recycling,” he said.

“We’ve donated bikes to the Rockhampton Flexible Learning Centre and we’ve also donated boxing equipment to the PCYC to train youth in the community.”

Shane Latcham holds the waste and recycling portfolio at Rockhampton Regional Council.

“It’s a really good message for our community,” he said.

“This [Ibis Reviva] is part of our strategy, part of our vision for how to become a zero-waste community by 2050.”

Four shelves stacked with plates, glasses, vases and other items for sale.
Suitable items are repurposed, recycled and sold. (

ABC Capricornia: Lucy Loram

)

‘The more skills the better’ 

For Mr Holder, the social connections he has made are a standout.

“They [workmates] all love the work they do, they love the place they’re working in, they love the people around them,” he said.

“I’ve always been about diverting waste. I don’t like landfill, I don’t like litter, I’ve always been clean and tidy, and always wanted to do the best for the world.

“Every day I come home, I talk to my family and tell them different ways of doing things,” he said.

“It’s lovely. They learn, I learn, it’s a big learning curve for everyone.”

While he loves every part of his job, Mr Holder is keen to keep preparing for future opportunities.

“The more skills the better,” he said.

“I don’t have a forklift ticket ,but that’s what they’re working on getting me to do.

“I’m looking at something like construction because it’s hands-on, it’s outside and it’s just lovely working with people you know, and you get along with.”



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