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The Melbourne Times
March 05 Edition
Interview with Darren Andrews by Sandra Langdon
FROM GREEN THUMB TO GREEN ACTIVIST AND SOCIAL ADVOCATE, DARREN ANDREWS IS MAKING A LIFETIME CONNECTION TO HIS NATURAL WORLD. SANDRA LANGDON REPORTS
A TOWERING figure with tanned skin and scruffy hair, Darren Andrews would have looked the part in his previous job as landscape designer.
"I've always had an interest in the environment and a passion around indigenous gardens and creating spaces where people feel connected with the natural world," he says. However, these days you are more likely to find him in the boardrooms of Melbourne's big businesses.
Andrews, 33, is the Environmental Services Director for Green Collect, a not-for-profit business that employs socially disadvantaged people to collect recyclable products such as corks, mobile phones, toner cartridges, aluminium bottle tops and screw tops from CBD businesses.
Quietly spoken and modest, Andrews has a history of juggling social justice issues with business. "When I ran my (landscaping) business, I worked with certain groups to provide employment opportunities for youth in the margins," he says.
Deciding he wanted to "do a bit more", Andrews completed a social science degree at RMIT, majoring in environmental policy and practice. In 2001, BP Australia contracted Andrews and Sally Quinn (now Green Collect's Social Development Director) to test the viability of a cork recycling enterprise that would employ homeless people.
The pilot showed that the concept had potential but needed further development and additional activities to stay afloat. As a result, Andrews developed the Green Office Program, which employs trained staff to look at energy and water usage and waste output of businesses and to set up systems to reduce their environmental impact.
He is enthusiastic about the service's "triple bottom-line outcome". "Financially, there are savings in reducing the cost of how much paper they consume, how much energy they use and how much waste they produce: he says. "They also have environmental benefits and the activities generate employment opportunities for people on the margins."
While heartened by Green
Collect's progress. Andrews gets frustrated at the throwaway mentality in our
society "The classic example is mobile phones" he says "There
isn't currently monetary value for (discarded) phones and the various materials
that make it viable for us to collect and then on sell:
He is stockpiling phones while he works on setting up structures for their recycling. He is also talking with the industry and manufacturers about their responsibilities.
If Andrews had the time and the funds, he would start a recycling scheme for all the modern products that end up in landfill after a very short lifespan. He is investigating 20 products. including old smoke detectors. fire extinguishers. CDs and DVDs. with the aim of finding a market value and setting up recycling programs.
"There's a lot of products that we'd like to divert from landfill" he says "I'd love to have collections out there servicing every building: Details: wwwgreencollect.org
On January 22, 2005 Green Collect was newly incorporated as a company limited by guarantee.
This involved the transfer of Green Collect and its business activities from Urban Seed (Collins Street Baptist Benevolent Society Inc) to a new not-for-profit company called Green Collect Limited. This big step in Green Collect’s development will allow GC to continue moving towards its vision of becoming a sustainable social enterprise.
This step marks a change in Green Collect’s relationship with Urban Seed, who have provided a home for Green Collect over the last 2 years. Green Collect thanks Urban Seed and its staff for their generous assistance and support during this time. We look forward to new opportunities of working together in the future.
Just sitting in Green Collect's
office in Collins Street, you get a real sense of hope and community from those
who work out of its cramped confines.
Green Collect markets itself as "An innovative social firm creating opportunities for community, environment and business to work together for a healthier Melbourne" and they are delivering on this promise.
Green Collect currently employs 14 people to deliver services including:
* Collection of corks, bottle tops, printer cartridges & mobile phones
* Office services, waste, energy, water, purchasing & policy development
* Green cleaning service.
According to Darren Andrews, Manager of Environmental Services at Green Collect, the opportunities provided by the collection and green office services help people who have previously been excluded from employment find meaningful work.
"Some of our staff have had issues that have acted as barriers to employment, including homelessness or illness. By providing them with a supportive work environment, we can provide new pathways back into work, and back into the community."
"At Green Collect, we aim to look at the whole picture, the way people interact with their community and the environment and try to connect with it a little differently to most."
Green Collect can offer members of the Waste Wise Melbourne Network help in waste audits, and provide collection of corks, mobile phones, bottle tops and printer cartridges.
"We are growing everyday. We started out simply collecting corks, now we can offer Melbourne businesses manageable and cost effective waste audits, tailor packages to each business and deliver cost savings as well as environmental and social benefits."
Green Collect can also help you get accredited as Waste Wise and are keen to talk to any group interested in how to reduce waste.
For more information contact Darren Andrews: 03 9663 8843 or email@example.com http://www.greencollect.org
Publication date: 12-1-2004
Page no: 7
By Stewart Oldfield.
Companies are trying to improve their recycling credentials by taking audits of office practices aimed at making them more green friendly, socially cohesive and cost effective.
The trend comes as government agencies such as EcoRecycle Victoria, which advises business on waste reduction, call on head office management to show leadership on recycling initiatives.
Australian offices are among the most prolific producers of waste in the world. A recent study found that less than 8 per cent of office paper was used on both sides.
Melbourne-based not-for-profit group Green Collect last year launched a program to audit offices on their environmental sustainability. Gas and electricity company TXU was the first company to participate in the program.
The audit confirmed the need to introduce work practices such as toner cartridge recycling, making recycled paper account for 50 per cent of all paper use, placing recycle bins on every floor, and participating in Green Collect's cork and mobile phone collection program.
TXU will also subject itself to an energy audit by Green Collect with the aim of reducing its own use of the products it sells to its customers.
"We are learning more about how we can change work practices to have less impact on the environment,'' a TXU spokeswoman says.
Michael Nolan, a director of the Melbourne-based Sustainable Change, estimates that the costs of audits of energy usage and waste output can be recouped within six months.
Nolan says a typical office
could aim to slash energy costs by up 20 per cent and cut paper costs by a similar
Recycling programs can also improve office morale.
Large corporations that have embraced Green Collect's cork and mobile telephone recycling program include Goldman Sachs JBWere, Boston Consulting Group, Macquarie Bank and law firm Mallesons Stephen Jacques. ANZ bank says it may be interested.
"It's been picked up with open arms,'' says Green Collect's environmental services co-ordinator, Darren Andrews. "People are hearing about the project and thinking that it's an easy way to create a sustainable Melbourne.'' The program aims to make a more sustainable office at the same time as helping out less privileged members of the community. For example, scattered around the Melbourne offices of Macquarie Bank are about 10 recycling bins for wine corks.
A Macquarie Bank business analyst, Brad Hopkins, says staff embraced the initiative adopted midway through last year and welcome the collector every fortnight when he comes to collect the corks.
The collector receives all the money raised through the recycling effort, and Macquarie meets the administrative cost of its participation in the program.
"It's not much effort for us but it means a lot to him,'' says Hopkins.
The collectors working with Green Collect typically face barriers to employment, including homelessness, social isolation and poverty.
When the collector arrives at the Melbourne reception, he is escorted around the office as he empties the bins.
One of the attractions of the recycling program to broking firm Goldman Sachs JBWere was its self-sustaining nature.
"Green Collect is creating jobs for people,'' says the firm's philanthropic services principal-manager, Christopher Thorn. "We are helping people help themselves.''
In Melbourne's central business district, 110 restaurants, hotels and businesses are participating in the cork-recycling program, which eventually results in the cork being turned into products such as flooring.
Green Collect estimates that 10 million corks are used in Melbourne's restaurants and bars each year and that only about 8 per cent is recycled.