James Dorney, TOMRA Cleanaway CEO applauded the initiative with income generated from the 120,000 empty plastic bottles so far collected from across Snowy 2.0 worksites were refunded at the Valmar Return and Earn automated depot for recycling. The recycling initiative equates to about $12,000 for designated local Snowy Mountains charities including Riding for the Disabled, Tumut and the Kosciuszko Huts Association.

Snowy 2.0 workforce recycling to fundraise for local charities through Return and Earn

In the heart of high-country NSW, Craig “Nicko” Nicholls has led the way in returning 120,000 empty plastic bottles to raise $12,000 for local charities in the Snowy Mountains region. Nicko is part of a 2,000-strong onsite workforce for the Snowy 2.0 hydropower project. In 2020 he started to notice how many empty drink containers were being thrown into rubbish bins. Knowing they could be returned for a 10c refund each through the Return and Earn container deposit scheme, Nicko and his workmates decided to put the empties to use and raise money for local causes along the way.

Nicko, who is the owner-operator of BCB Cranes, started by organising a system for container collections, with the empty container returned to Valmar Industries Automated Depot (AD) in Tumut. This was also not long after the 2020 bush fires, which saw many of the huts in the Kosciuszko National Park destroyed, so Nicko initially decided to donate the refunds to the volunteer-run Kosciuszko Huts Association (KHA) to repair and maintain these iconic huts. The reminiscent buildings from the early years of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme are a reminder of an important part of Australia’s engineering and social history, and their upkeep allows them to be used by todays and future generations.

The income generated from the 120,000 empty plastic bottles so far collected from across Snowy 2.0 worksites and return to the Valmar AD for recycling, equates to about $9,000 for the KHA and around $3,00 for a new charity, Riders for the Disabled Tumut.

John Stanfield, Manager of the Valmar Industries AD in Tumut, said the team at Snowy 2.0 had delivered truckloads of cans and plastic bottles. He added that he anticipates that this will be a busy year for the AD and he is looking forward to processing up to a million containers from the Snowy 2.0 workforce.

Valmar Industries is the business services arm of Valmar Support Services, a disability services organisation that provides support to people with disabilities both in high and low support group homes and in their homes through supported independent living.

Since opening the AD, Valmar has also been able to employ people who live with disabilities to work directly with the container deposit scheme.  They assist customers, sort containers and take on other tasks decided in consultation with their support workers.

This article first appeared in the Monaro Post.

Learn more about partnerships with TOMRA Cleanaway.

More about Valmar Industries and their great work in the Snowy Valley Council area of NSW.