It’s a Monday, the alarm hits at 7 am. You then prepare to go to work like most people who have office jobs five days each week. You take your daily commute, head to your desk and started typing on your computer. It is a tiring day, filled with paperwork, and before you know it you’ve already filled up your trash bin.
On average, an American office worker can use up to 10,000 sheets of paper and up to 500 disposable coffee cups in just a year. This does not even include the electronics waste from damaged computers and other technology. E-waste had actually been the fastest growing domestic waste in the US with American workers generating around 2.7 million tons in 2018 alone. Unfortunately, only 20% of the total electronic waste is being reused or recycled and eventually ends up in landfills.
Offices are laden with technological devices & gadgets (may it be company-sponsored phones or even printers and mice) and when they have served their purpose, they are automatically being thrown away, a practice that is prevalent in corporate offices. However, this specific practice can be fatal and dangerous as improperly discarding electronics can spark fires. Fret not though, unbeknownst to most, electronic gadgets are actually recyclable – their main components such as copper, aluminum, and semiconductor chips can be used to create new products.
The Start of Collecting Green
Seeing the possibilities in making the world waste-free, couple Sally Quinn & Darren Andrews initiated the idea of a waste-collection business that provides jobs for people who have employment issues; thus, the beginning of Green Collect.
Having a background in social work and environmental management, they campaigned to focus first on collecting forks discarded by hotels and restaurants. This particular movement has helped them generate jobs for garbage collectors, those who gathered them through going through hospitality establishments by foot with a trolley. It proved to be successful as they get to divert 4.6 tons of cork from landfills.
Their breakthrough idea though that sparked the most came in 2005. By then, they realized how businesses also would want to have sustainable solutions to their waste concerns; something that they were able to prove through their pilot project.
Having shifted its focus on office waste, Green Collect currently helps more than 200 businesses in Australia to find alternatives to office items that usually end up in the trash bin. Items such as paper clips and folders, even electronics and expired cartridges, their awesome team of recyclers and collectors gather them from offices. This initiative alone has helped them gather 125 tons of waste and recycle or repurpose them into completely new items.
Their priority in environmental campaigns is to reuse. A lot of their collected items get to be used again in local community stores, through their physical stores in Yarraville & Braybrook, or through their website. If it is too damaged for reuse, they find a way to upcycle them. Their team members’ creativity has sprouted the idea of creating wonderful notebooks through folders. Lastly, they sort those items that need to be recycled, removing the complex materials. This meticulous process has helped them achieve their goal of zero waste in landfills.
On Job Opportunities
At Green Collect, they’re not just for environmental efforts. What sets them apart most from other waste collection companies is their employment opportunities – they’re also all about the people.
Equal employment is one of the core goals of Green Collect. This campaign has helped them to create a supportive and flexible working environment that allows everyone to get jobs despite their previous experiences or life circumstances.
“That’s an open commitment we have, but we also offer six-month programs for about 30 people a year in training and work experience, either for future placement at Green Collect or as a pathway towards formal training or employment in the warehousing and logistics sector.”— Sally Quinn
Half of the social enterprise’s permanent staff positions were given primarily to applicants who have been in difficult situations. Barriers that have made getting hired and maintaining a job harder for them like homelessness, mental health illness, disability, race, or disrupted education.
Both Sally and Darren educational backgrounds have greatly shaped today’s job opportunities. They have always dreamt of opening an enterprise that focuses on sustainability but can also elevate the communities by creating better employment opportunities and workplaces.
Green Collect’s Impact on Employment & Environment
Since their first campaign with corkboard, Green Collect has proven to be one of the great drives of social and environmental change in Australia.
To date, they have been working with numerous global companies where they have been offering waste collection and management. Their wide client base already includes local councils, businesses, and even government departments. From SMEs to global companies, it seems that everyone is getting concerned with their waste and sustainable solutions.
Through these efforts, they were able to divert 125 tons of waste from the fiscal year of 2019 alone – this includes saving up to 12 tons of folders, 17 tons of electronic waste, and 28 tons of office supplies. This particular achievement had been well-noted by the National Organization of Social Traders in Australia, awarding them the coveted “Social Enterprise of the Year” in 2019.
Their retail store in Yarraville and their Braybrook have even made it more convenient for people to be a part of the sustainable solution. These stores have been a great platform where thousands of both household and office items can be purchased. They sell second-hand eco-friendly products like preloved clothes, homewares, and office supplies. For those, who are not in Australia or far from these stores, fret not as you can also shop online through their website.
Want to know more about their initiatives? You may visit their website or check out their physical stores in Braybrook (Unit 1, 75A Ashley St. Braybrook, VIC 3019) or in Yarraville (71 Anderson St. Yarraville VIC 3013).