A Family Affair; Grafton Container Return

Since July 2019, Kellie Gregor and her husband Abel have been running their family-owned business Grafton Container Return, an official return point within the TOMRA Cleanaway return point network for the NSW Container Deposit Scheme Return and Earn.

Located on a former brewers site in the north coast of NSW, Grafton Container Return has come full circle, now providing the citizens of the region with the opportunity to gain their 10c refund on eligible bottles and containers.

An automated depot , or a bulk container drop off centre provides Grafton residents the opportunity to return eligible drink containers in one go by handing them all over to the staff. Containers are then loaded into an automated counting and sorting machine called a ‘singulator’.  Automatically sorting and counting containers then dispensing a receipt for customer refund makes the process quick and easy for customers with a large volume of containers to return.

TOMRA Cleanaway takes over from this point, collecting all the returned containers from Grafton Container Return and ensuring responsible recycling of all the material, whether that be through a domestic commodity market or to buyers overseas.

Meeting the demands of customers

As their business grew, Kellie and Abe started to think about ways to make it easier for customers to bring large volumes of containers in. They noted that customers were using whatever they had on hand to transport their containers. Sometimes they received containers in used non-recyclable bags, or wet, disintegrating cardboard cartons. To provide something reusable, they decided to order custom-designed bags for customers. This provided a secure, standardised and transportable mechanism for customers to deliver containers in.

Fundraising for the future of the area

Kellie said of the initiative, “Initially we just got a couple of hundred bags and used them as a giveaways. People loved them, so we got more. Then we decided to sell them for $2 each and give the money to a good cause”.

The first valuable recipient to benefit from the funds raised were nurses at Grafton Hospital. “We had one nurse who used to come here and save up all her container refunds for colouring books and things like that for the kids in the children’s ward. So we wanted to give something back to the nurses – they work so hard.”

Kellie says the money is for whatever the nurses want. “They could spend it on a nice coffee machine or a years ’supply of biscuits, but it’s entirely up to them.”

The fundraising began in May 2020 and in just three weeks they had raised nearly $1,500. Selling the bags was the primary contributor to this, but Kellie says customers often drop a few dollars from their container refunds in as well to assist the cause.

Kellie said that helping local causes is now really important to the business to support, “Next month we’ll think of someone else to donate to, so everyone gets a fair go,” she says. “There are lots of clubs in small towns that don’t get much, like sports clubs or the surf lifesaving club – even just a little bit helps them out, and it encourages everyone to keep recycling and doing the right thing.”

This Article first appeared on the Return and Earn Website.

For more information on partnership opportunities including hosting a return point, please visit TOMRA Cleanaway.