Behind the scenes: Who is keeping our container deposit network humming?

TOMRA Cleanaway employs hundreds of people across NSW to deliver network operations for the NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn. A common theme across our recent investigation into our employees is the absolute pride our team take in helping create a better environment and future for the next generation. Another common theme, is great relationships! Partnership is at the core of our services, we could not deliver our network without a positive, and collaborative approach.

Behind the scenes: Who is keeping the container deposit network humming?

TOMRA Cleanaway’s container deposit return point network in NSW involves hundreds of people hard at work to keep things running smoothly. As network operator for the NSW scheme, Return and Earn, our customers might not be aware of the variety of roles and tasks that our staff across NSW are responsible. The operation of more than 600 container return points is ensuring the collection of millions of containers that are processed and sent for recycling every day. We are proud to introduce you to just some of our everyday heroes that are working hard to make a cleaner, more sustainable environment.

Tianna Milovanovic, Regional Account Manager, TOMRA Cleanaway

I started with TOMRA Cleanaway as Regional Accounts Manager in 2018 and was really motivated to be part of Return and Earn network operations. Coming from a role dealing with traditional waste management and recycling, joining TOMRA Cleanaway to focus on the container deposit scheme was a natural progression that focussed on my interest in the importance of recycling.  As a mother I believe creating a more sustainable future is important not only for my son but for the generations to follow.

Being part of scheme operations that occur in the background keeps me very busy. My role sees me cover a considerable geography that can feel like most of regional NSW! I regularly visit our operators spread across several hundred thousand square kilometres. I am constantly out and about and have really enjoyed being part of the growth of operations in NSW over the last few years. On a regular basis I travel to and visit my sites, which I really enjoy as I have made many friends in the company and out on the road. I can truly say I love my job!

My responsibilities include ensuring our operators are engaged and maintaining scheme requirements as return point operators and providing support for services when needed. Our Account Management team focus heavily on proactive check-in with our sites to pre-empt what they need, we are always building our relationships!

I am motivated every day by the fact I know we are building a great future for the community. I also get to work with awesome people and I am constantly meeting great people as well.

Tianna Milovanovic, Regional Account Manager, TOMRA Cleanaway

Don Haliti, Technician, TOMRA

When Return and Earn began in NSW, I worked with a TOMRA taskforce from overseas to complete installation of Reverse Vending Machines (RVMs) at return points around NSW. Working with colleagues from different backgrounds and countries it was all hands on deck! To achieve this mammoth task we worked long hours and slept in motels all across regional NSW. It was very rewarding, and I will never forget the feeling when the scheme kicked off successfully in December 2017. We all had big smiles on our faces.

These days, apart from scheduled installations of new RVMs, my role involves maintenance and repairs to existing RVMs and ensuring all is running smoothly. I also mentor and train new team members and assist in the office.

I enjoy the variety of working with different equipment in different locations, and interacting with customers. It’s also rewarding to know that I am contributing to saving the environment.

Working here has also made me more aware of recycling at home and now instead of throwing out bottles and cans my wife and I collect it and we encourage our kids to recycle containers to earn pocket money. This teaches them two important things in life: to work hard to earn something and to protect the planet from pollution.

Don Haliti, Technician, TOMRA

Terry Cutajar, Customer Service Officer, TOMRA Cleanaway

My role as a customer service officer means I offer frontline support to our internal and external customers. We take calls from the public and assist them to find their closest collection points. We step in when there is an issue and we also look after the operational needs of the over-the-counter collection points and automated depots.

What I find most rewarding about my role are the relationships that we have been able to cultivate over the last three years. Being one of the original customer service officers from the beginning of the scheme, we have built a lot of relationships, and have got to know our regular callers. One of our regulars is ‘Scooter Dave’, who lives in the Illawarra, and collects bottles and cans to raise money for charity.

Probably one of the most satisfying aspects of my job is being able to turn around a customer experience from a negative to a positive. For example, I took a call from a regular user of the scheme who was getting very frustrated for various reasons. After discussing her concerns, I was able to put feedback in for her at an operational level that meant we could resolve her concerns. I was also able to educate her about how she can best access the scheme and gain her refunds in multiple ways. I was able to turn her experience around and she is now a great advocate of the scheme.

Before working for TOMRA Cleanaway I had a basic knowledge of recycling, but I am now much more focused at home with recycling and educating my family as well.

Terry Cutajar, Customer Service Officer, TOMRA Cleanaway

Jyoti Bhanot, Operations Supervisor, Cleanaway

My role is to make sure that Reverse Vending Machines are emptied on time in a safe manner through Cleanaway’s dedicated fleet of collections vehicles for Return and Earn. I am proud to be part of the process which ensures smooth running of the scheme’s network of return points, so that customers can easily recycle containers. We ensure that our environment is clean and there is less litter on our streets. I am pleased to see the overwhelmingly positive community response to this scheme.

Day-to-day, my work involves fleet management, coordinating routes, building driver rosters, dealing with drivers, managing fatigue and conducting audits. We ensure that RVMs are available for customers to recycle their containers. It is rewarding to find the best possible solutions for customers. Fleet management can be challenging at times. Our trucks are double shifted, which means the trucks do more hours and this makes servicing and breakdowns more challenging.

I enjoy all aspects of my job though, and I am pleased to be part of making a sustainable future possible for our community. I am fortunate to work with some really good people that make every day enjoyable for me. The best moment in the job was when my team received the “2019 Cleanaway Star Award for Team of the Year.”

My family and I often discuss the importance of reducing general waste and litter, and my kids value the importance of recycling. I have purchased different bins so the kids can recycle cans and bottles.

Jyoti Bhanot, Operations Supervisor, Cleanaway

Sally Anne Conlon, Warehouse Supervisor at Eastern Creek Container Sorting Facility, Cleanaway

I am one of the lucky people who love what they do for a living. There is never a dull moment at the Cleanaway Eastern Creek Container Sorting Facility – we process all the lightweight materials from across NSW. That includes the plastics, cartons and cans. I often push myself to learn more and be better at this job each day than I was the day before.

I am responsible for the daily running of the warehouse and all operations within. We receive containers from all over NSW, so we are directly involved in processing and counting every container that comes through Return and Earn. My daily routine involves interacting with staff across all three shifts that we run here and making sure that the warehouse is operating at optimal capacity in all areas. This could be delivering the latest safety toolbox, fixing a breakdown, organising staff duties, chasing deliveries, doing safety walks, showing business partners through the warehouse, or running a machine to process the containers.

It’s a great feeling after a busy week when we have so much product come in that I wonder how we will ever get through it all – and then, come Monday morning the floor is clear. I know that everyone has worked super hard and worked together to get the job done.

This job has made me so much more aware of just how much rubbish my family and I were producing at home. I now recycle all of our eligible containers and try and be more conscious of what we throw out and what we can repurpose around the home.

This article first appeared on the Return and Earn website.

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Sally Anne Conlon, Warehouse Supervisor at Eastern Creek Container Sorting Facility, Cleanaway