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Newdegate Machinery Field Days: Containers for Change goes from strength to strength

Dorothy HendersonCountryman
Newdegate Containers for Change volunteer Liam Thompson.
Camera IconNewdegate Containers for Change volunteer Liam Thompson. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

This year’s Newdegate Machinery Field Days’ theme of “sustainability and recycling” is entirely appropriate for a community of award-winning volunteers.

In November, the Newdegate refund point was declared the winner of the 2022 Containers for Change WA Change Makers Award Volunteer Operator of the Year.

The award recognised the efforts of Newdegate volunteers who have operated the town’s Containers for Change refund point since it opened in September 2021.

The Newdegate refund point materialised largely due to the efforts of Natalie Thompson, who saw a need for a local recycling scheme and the need to prevent material from overwhelming the small town’s landfill site.

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Natalie identified that Containers for Change would not only fit the bill in terms of helping deal with waste, but she felt that the work involved would provide meaningful employment for her son, Liam.

Natalie said that Liam, who is autistic, is a valued member of a team of volunteers.

“He has a skill set including attention to detail, an incredible memory and knack for research: ideal for someone working in a field where sorting and recognition of items that could or could not be accepted was important for its success,” Mrs Thompson said.

While the volunteers are engaged in a quest to reduce landfill, the environment is not the only beneficiary of Containers for Change efforts.

By using member numbers when returning their 10c containers, people can decide if they would like to donate them to their community at the same time as they work towards a sustainable society.

Since Containers for Change Newdegate opened, the refund point has received 545,567 10c containers.

Cans at the Newdegate Containers for Change.
Camera IconCans at the Newdegate Containers for Change. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

Containers delivered to the shed located at the Waddell Street Newdegate Field Day site are hand sorted according to type, and then collected by the recyclers, such as WA Glass and Remondis.

A team of five regular volunteers keep the assembly line of hand sorting on track, and other helpers lend an occasional hand to operate the refund point.

A visual image comes to mind of many hands making light work as fingers deftly sort glass, plastic, aluminium and other drink containers into their defined destination.

Mrs Thompson said that containers are returned to the site from as far afield as Forrestania, where mining camps generated waste which was brought to Newdegate in intermediate bulk container (IBC) shuttles.

While the Newdegate Field Day site is the refund point’s usual home, it shuts up shop during the field days.

The refund point has received a $6000 Grass Roots community grant from the CBH Group which allowed for an upgrade and additions to infrastructure to ensure volunteers were kept safe.

It has enabled them to buy a mobile sorting table with a capacity to fit the contents of a full IBC and accessories for their trailer, including a ramp and sides, to improve the safety of their volunteers, while servicing the community’s Containers for Change bins, also making it easier for all involved.

This year’s theme ensures that the success of the business is well and truly embraced by the community, and this year’s event provides the perfect opportunity to showcase recycling’s end products.

“We will have a stall during the field days featuring a snap shot of all things sustainable and recyclable in Australia, and people will be able to see a range of products made from recycled plastic, as well as eco and sustainable products such as items made from Merino wool and hemp, while also finding out where to recycle different products,” Mrs Thompson said.

Salad bowls, hand planes, shopping bags, rugs and dog leads are among the items featured.

Garments fashioned from recycled fibres were also expected to take to the cat walk in the popular field day fashion parade, always a crowd-pleaser in the Family Interest Display Pavilion.

In keeping with the theme, the refund point is also making available 750ml stainless steel water bottles, at a cost of $10 each, which could be refilled at water stations throughout the grounds during the event.

The CEO of WA Return, Recycle Renew, scheme co-ordinator for Containers for Change WA, Tim Cusack said that the Change Marker awards, which have reopened for 2023, shine a light on incredible individuals and organisations.

“The awards acknowledge the meaningful contributions being made to reduce landfill and help community groups across Western Australia and I congratulate Newdegate for winning the award last year and their substantial impact in this space,” he said.

The Newdegate refund point is one of hundreds across WA, part of an entire network that has prevented more than two billion 10c containers from ending up in landfill during the last two years.

In doing so, Containers for Change has diverted $200 million in 10¢ container refunds back into our communities.

And, importantly, Containers for Change ensures materials once regarded as waste, to live another life as something useful.

This year’s Newdegate Machinery Field Days is September 6 and 7.

View the digital edition of the 2023 program here.

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