The Blue Tree Project is sparking a conversation about mental health. Don’t be afraid to say the wrong thing, be brave. By spreading the message that “it’s OK to not be OK”, we can help break down the stigma that is still largely attached to mental health.

Out and About with TOMRA Cleanaway – the Blue Tree of Warialda

Situated brightly against a recently harvested paddock, the Blue Tree of Warialda was seen by the TOMRA Cleanaway accounts team in the stunning Northern Tablelands of NSW in the Gwydir Shire Council area. ‘The Blue Tree of Warialda’ has become a fabled discussion point for tourists to the area. It was no different for our team whilst visiting the area for the NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn.

Once in a position to do some research about the Blue Tree, they realised they had stumbled on something quite special. The Blue Tree of Warialda was the Gwydir Shire monument created by locals to spark a conversation about mental health for the national Blue Tree Project.

The Blue Tree Project has a mission; to spark difficult conversations and encourage people to speak up when battling mental health issues. “Don’t be afraid to say the wrong thing, be brave. By spreading the message that, it’s OK to not be OK”. By having a conversation, we can help break down the stigma that is still largely attached to mental health.

What does the Blue Tree mean to TOMRA Cleanaway?

The Blue Tree Project aligns to TOMRA Cleanaway’s organisational commitments and ethos regarding keeping our Team safe and healthy. Mental health has been identified as a critical health risk in the modern workplace that needs to be addressed. TOMRA Cleanaway is dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of our Team. We are proud to have developed a program of resilience Training for our customer-facing staff in early 2018.

This training has evolved each year and drawn on real experience to improve its’ relevance. Our Resilience Training assists our Team to be at peak performance when managing difficult customer scenarios but to also be able to manage their own responses to these situations when they occur.

On the broader spectrum, our current NSW the scheme-wide charitable recycling effort is fundraising to help three key social needs by focussing on:

  • Food security
  • Housing security and
  • Mental Health

TOMRA Cleanaway’s network of return points is designed to meet the needs of communities everywhere. This network design has enabled us to pivot with our shareholder TOMRA and the NSW container deposit scheme, Return and Earn, aligning with the community interests and identified needs quickly. In 2020 there was little evidence required to highlight that due to COVID-19, our community was suffering, and we wanted to do something to help.

How can bottles & cans change lives?

COVID-19 clearly brought untold hardship to millions of Australians. Some are struggling to put food on the table, others are in need of a hand to pay their rent or their bills. Some of our community are experiencing depression and anxiety. It was these realisations that led to the development of the “Bottles Can Change Lives” recycling appeal.

From August 2020 until the end of February 2021, every eligible bottle or cans donated through a registered NSW container deposit scheme point will generate 10c to one of three chosen charities that are addressing the social issues identified; housing security – The Salvation Army, food security – OzHARVEST and mental health – Beyond Blue.

On 24th August, NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean launched the Return and Earn recycling appeal, Bottles Can Change Lives, which aims to raise much-needed funds to support Australians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Kean said of the initiative, “Three-quarters of NSW residents are already returning and earning. If everyone donates just one container out of every 20, we will well and truly exceed this target,” Mr Kean said. “Millions of Australians are doing it really tough right now, both financially and emotionally, and the services of these important organisations are in greater demand than ever.”

In NSW, recyclers can choose to donate their eligible bottles and cans at any participating Return and Earn return point with each container donated raising 10c for the appeal.

Australia’s 2020 bushfire crisis and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic are having a profound impact on the lives of people in Australia. The Beyond Blue Support Service has received a 27% increase in calls since COVID-19 began.

Donation of a 10c refund to Beyond Blue will help them provide 24/7 counselling services and hope to members of our community who are experiencing depression, anxiety or suicide.

As of the end of January 2021, a considerable achievement by the NSW community was reached with over $200,000 raised in the state for all charity partners involved in the campaign.

Beyond Blue has been a most popular benefactor for donations, with the community identifying mental health support as an important service to provide during these challenging times.

We encourage everyone to continue to donate their eligible bottles and cans to the ‘Bottles can Change Lives’ recycling appeal and reach out to a support service like Beyond Blue if you feel help is needed.

This article was developed after sighting a blue tree in a paddock, somewhere in Warialda.

Find out more about the Blue Tree of Warialda website for more information.

Find out more information on how Bottles can Change Lives.