TV recycling facility provides jobs for disabled

TV recycling facility provides jobs for disabled

Ever wondered where old television sets go? So far this year about 20,000 of them have been gathered under Auckland Council's inorganics collection scheme.

They're taken to a community facility called Abilities on Auckland’s North Shore, where people with learning disabilities help to recycle them.

"We have 120 staff with intellectual disabilities and what we try to do here is to give them a safe and secure environment where they know they can come and be looked after but enjoy working," says managing director Peter Fraher.

The council has recently changed the inorganic scheme from a curbside collection to a booked pickup system -- with a focus on turning trash into reusable treasure. 

"The focus is on getting it reused and recycled so back into people's homes, and as part of the project a lot of social enterprises and charities are getting their hands on the materials. And what comes out of that is jobs, volunteering and training opportunities," says Ian Stupple, Auckland Council’s solid waste manager.

And for the staff at Abilities, it's a chance to put their skills to good use.

"You need a reason to get up in the morning, get clean and tidy and to feel that you're valued. And that just really makes their day," says Mr Fraher. 

Last year's curbside collections raked in over 26,000 tonnes of waste for landfill -- but the new inorganic system has significantly reduced that.

"This year because a lot of the material is reused or recycled, only about 6000 tonnes are going," says Mr Stupple. 

Abilities receives between 500 and 700 television sets each week. Around 80 percent of those come from the Auckland Council's inorganics collection.

"It just shows that New Zealanders are little hoarders - we just put it in the garage and put it somewhere and don't get around to recycling things," says Mr Fraher. 

The facility has received around 20,000 televisions since September last year, and Mr Fraher predicts that number will grow over the next few years.

But, he says, that’s nothing his staff can’t handle.