Owen Kessels from Reward Recycling.
Owen Kessels from Reward Recycling.

How this man turned recycling into a business

A CAMIRA social worker is behind a new business that pays people to fill wheelie bins full of their recyclables - and he takes them away too.

Owen Kessels is the founder of Reward Recycling that has already distributed more than 270 of their own wheelie bins across the Greater Springfield area including Augustine Heights and Camira.

"The idea came about because Ipswich City Council stopped recycling because of the high contamination rates. And then they started recycling again, but they weren't taking glass," he said.

"So we decided to do something about that, because we believe recycling shouldn't go into landfill. that's really the core belief of our business and that resonates with many of our customers."

"For a $50 refundable deposit, we provide a wheelie bin for people and a free pick-up service, and we pay a $5 reward when the bin is full to the brim. We've really been getting a great response from people."

The business is also providing an option where they provide a free bin and free pick-up service, but minus the $5 refund.

Mr Kessels is also trialling the scheme in parts of Ipswich and is looking to expand, but is wary of becoming too big too fast.

"We don't want to disappoint people," he said.


One of the Reward Recycling bins.
One of the Reward Recycling bins.

Mr Kessels has another 130 bins in stock that he plans to distribute over the next month or so for people interested in taking part.

After door knocking and delivering flyers about the scheme, Mr Kessels said he had been overwhelmed with support.

"What we've found is that a lot of people aren't motivated by the monetary reward. When we say would you like the $5 reward or would you like to support us and we donate 10 percent to charity, people go with the second option. It's been really surprising. We didn't expect that."

Mr Kessels said the business will pay out rewards to its customers once a year just before Christmas.

"And people have been all right with that. It's a bit of money just before Christmas, and it saves us administration costs," he said.

"The basic requirement is that people can recycle three or more of the 10 cent recyclables a week, and if they can do that, they'll pretty much fill that bin within 10 weeks. They need to fill the bin within the 10 weeks to get the $5 reward, and that's quite achievable."

Everyone from families with children to retirees have jumped on board.

"Many people are busy and they've tried taking the stuff in themselves and they go 'it's just too much trouble'," Mr Kessels said.

"Can you imagine everyone in the city of Ipswich driving in to drop off $5 or $10 worth of bottles? It's extra traffic on our roads, it's another job. With our bin, someone else looks after it and they get a bit of cash and that helps."

Living on a two acre property and travelling a lot for work had helped give rise to his idea, Mr Kessels said.

"I like driving and I like doing positive things for the environment so when the idea came to me, I thought 'I could make that work'," he said.

"Some people go 'that's a great idea, that might be really big'. It might be really big actually, but we'll see. It's a bit frightening running a business because there's a fair bit of money tied up in getting set up and hoping it'll go okay."

"I have one lady and she's quite looking forward to the bin because she has about five bin loads. Hubby keeps saying he's going to take them in, and he keeps adding to the pile as he has a drink out the back."

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