Meet the workers who hand sort our recycling

Meet the workers who hand sort the region's recyclable materials as part of National Recycling Week

During National Recycling Week we take a look inside the region’s recycling centre and meet the Impact Community Services disability workers who hand sort recyclable material.

The facility receives 2000 garbage truck loads of recycling each year, equating to about 7000 tonnes worth of rubbish.

Facility manager Tim Van Kooten said Impact was an Australian Disability Enterprise employer and currently had more than 20 staff.

“They just love it,” Tim said.

“They take lots of pride.

“A lot of the workers, I have to force them to have holidays they just don’t want to go off work for any reason!”

The team sorts all materials placed in the region’s yellow-lidded wheelie bins by hand.

“Most of our manufacturers like our product because it’s hand sorted and it’s a cleaner product than an automatic sort facility.

“We can command higher prices for our milk bottles and mixed plastics because of that.”

But it does come with it’s drawbacks, also meaning the workers must sift through anything placed in the bins that isn’t recyclable.

Of the 7000 tonnes of material that comes in, Tim said about 2500 tonnes went to landfill.

Tony Norton has worked at the facility for seven years and said when he was working “on the line” he had to be careful to avoid dirty nappies and needles when hand sorting the recyclable material.

“Needles, nappies, all that kind of thing all goes to waste really they shouldn’t be putting that in recycling,” Tony said.

“Be more aware of what goes in our recycling because you’re hurting the environment.”

He said the more people who recycle, and recycle well, the more work there would be at the facility.

“For all the disability people give more opportunities for us to keep working and doing what we’re doing.”

Claytin Matthews said he’d been looking for work for five years before being offered a position at the recycling centre.


  1. With regard to recycling, how do the handlers cope with broken glass? Is it still OK to put glass bottles/containers (washed) into the yellow bins? I have assumed they get pretty smashed up and I hope the handlers don’t get hurt by broken glass.

  2. Congratulations to our wonderful recycling crews. How about a reminder on here about which plastics you can or can’t recycle?

  3. This is great work and a great initiative. Keep up the good work! However I’m amazed at two things that still happen in our modern “environmentally responsible” society.

    1. All the big events you go to where there’s often no dedicated glass bottle, aluminium can and plastic recycling bins. This should be mandatory at any event with over 100 people.

    2. The amount of uneducated or simply lazy or irresponsible residents that don’t recycle properly. Putting dirty recyclables, non-recyclables, etc in the yellow lidded bins. It’s like kindergarten kid behaviour.

    I recommend the Council prepares and continues an ongoing awareness campaign to make residents understand better how and what to recycle. Catch the problem at the source, not at the recycling centre.

  4. I would really like a more detailed list of just what can be recycled. Also explaining that caps should be off bottles … is that right?

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