28 October, 2021
Carlginda - one big family
Gilgandra Waste Facility has a large and loving family behind it, of which the public might not be aware.
The Gil shire’s recycling is all sorted by hand. There’s no big machine, there’s no blower that sorts it for them, it’s done by a team of enthusiastic and committed staff.
Michael Hodge is the waste operations manager, or “the old bloke who works at the tip,” as he likes to describe it. Mr Hodge, as well as with two other employees, works alongside 18 clients, all with varying disabilities.
Owned by Gilgandra Shire Council, Carlginda Enterprises is a recycling enterprise for gainful employment for people with a disability, and a partner to Gilgandra Waste Facility.
“They’re magnificent people to work with,” said Mr Hodge.
“It creates a place for them, and my theory is it’s not about me and it’s not about the other two girls that work with me here, it’s about them. And if they’re happy, the worlds happy. It’s that easy.”
The Gilgandra Weekly’s journalist, Emily Middleton, spent last Wednesday morning at the waste facility, learning how the organisation works, and meeting the friendly faces that go through our rubbish.
“Everything is recycled by hand, and sometimes what you find is good, recycled product, but we also get nappies, needles, dead animals, green waste, too much milk, all sorts of things,” said Mr Hodge.
On Wednesday’s, a load from the Bogan shire arrives to be sorted. It gets unloaded into the hopper, down the belt, gets sorted, and gets put into the big pressers.
“The Nyngan load averages 2.8 tonne per week of recycled product. Our main load is from Gilgandra, but we also get Tooraweenah and Armatree’s yellow bags and recycled product,” said Mr Hodge.
Over the years, Mr Hodge has seen his fair share of waste come through the recycling bins. The most recent being dead animals, dirty nappies, and grass clippings.
“Its people, they’re the ones that have to stand there and go through your yellow bag. If you’ve made a mistake, and thrown a dirty nappy in it, then they have to sort it out. That’s the saddest part that I’ve seen over time,” said Mr Hodge.
“There’s a million signs, but how many people read them?”
Workers at the Gilgandra Waste Facility want to remind the shire of what to do with recycled products. Paper, cardboard, newspapers are allowed, however tissues, used paper towels, animal/food waste and Styrofoam products are not. If you are recycling cans, bottles, or containers, rinsing them out before putting them in the yellow bin, helps the staff immensely.
“If it’s clean, to a certain degree, no drama. It’s not a problem. And we are always going to get bits and pieces, that’s just the nature of the beast. But if there’s a small amount if ice cream left in the container, just rinse it out.”
Journalist Emily was surprised to learn that even if there is only a small amount of liquid left in a recyclable container, it can no longer be recycled. This is due to the fact that the substance is unknown, and could potentially put the workers at risk.
“If there’s fluid in a container, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a recyclable container, once it goes past, they’re not allowed to take the lid off and empty the fluid. If there’s fluid in it, it goes to landfill, if it’s too dirty, it goes to landfill. It’s a huge waste, and just defeats the purpose of recycling,” said Mr Hodge.
“Kylie Gibson here trains the clients, they do skilled courses and everything just to upskill their knowledge, take them outside the safe zone a little bit, and make sure they realise it’s not good.”
Each day, a bus brings the clients up to the tip, after getting ready for work and sorting lunch at home. The morning begins with the daily toolbox meeting out on the lawn, going through the day’s agenda.
“Thursday is lunch order day, so we have takeaway day, and then once a month we have a barbeque.
“Yes, it’s a tip, yes it’s a recycle centre, but it’s got to be a good place to work,” said Mr Hodge.
On the day that Emily visited, it happened to be Amanda’s birthday.
“We have three cakes,” said Mr Hodge.
“Every birthday is a big deal around here.”
Mr Hodge is proud to be working with such incredible, hard-working colleagues.
“The crux of it is, I work with 18 people with a disability, and you’ll never know how lucky I am to have this employment.
“They’re just my colleagues and I look forward to every day.”