Recycling gets social inclusion tick
Recycling is in the spotlight this week as UOW celebrated National Recycling Week with a visit to paper recycling contractor, Flagstaff Group.
A group of UOW staff took a bus trip out to Flagstaff’s Unanderra paper recycling facility to take a closer look at where the paper in UOW’s confidential and blue paper only bins goes.
Allison Day, manager of the paper recycling facility, gave a brief introduction overlooking the factory floor and then took staff around the factory to view the operations and get a direct understanding of the processes involved.
All paper is sorted very carefully prior to being shredded and compacted into bales. In the same way, cardboard is compressed and bundled by an automatic machine.
Stephen Poon, a staff member from the Faculty of Science commented “It was an immensely satisfying experience to see that the waste University of Wollongong produces actually gets recycled properly. What impressed me most is the fact that everything is done so thoroughly. Every bit of plastic, metal and non-paper item is removed to leave only the paper or cardboard,” he said.
Another staff member, Greg Rose, from the Faculty of Law asked Allison whether recycling paper is a viable business economically. She responded by saying that it was certainly commercially viable and profits from the business are returned into the social mission of employing more staff with disabilities.
Allison discussed the types of contamination found in paper recycling bins during the tour, pointing out, “the University is one of the worst for contamination”.
“We find all sorts of items in the bins that are not meant to be there; plastic, plastic bags, money, watches, even concrete…it makes our work easier if those things are not in there but we do sort the contents. For example, ring binders can be recycled. We remove all the metal parts and then recycle the cardboard,” she said.
The group is a social enterprise as it provides meaningful employment for people with disabilities. All profits are reinvested into its social mission.
One of the Flagstaff recycling employees, Darrell Holz, commented “Working here has changed everything in my life for the better. The people are great, I’m out of the house and getting a wage. I love it and would encourage others to work here too. It’s a good, happy place.” Stephen also mentioned that it was very comforting to see that confidential materials (such as past exam papers and assignments) are properly disposed of (finely shredded). He commended Flagstaff for employing people with disabilities and said they certainly do a fantastic job.
As part of the activity, UOW staff were also given a ‘virtual tour’ of the Whytes Gully materials recycling facility which handles all UOW’s comingled recycling. This short, ten minute DVD shows how mixed recycling is separated at this facility and then transported for further processing. This can be made available to any unit of the university and the ESI Unit would be happy to present it at your upcoming staff meetings.
In addition to the recycling tour, ESI has encourage UOW environment champions to hold a Friday File Fling to encourage recycling of no longer required office paper. For more information click here.