24-25 Jul 2024

Community Recycling Enterprises: Turning Waste into Wages

Nov 1, 2013

Community Recycling Enterprises are social enterprises that reduce waste to landfill, while creating vital training and employment for those in their local community most marginalised in the search for work.

Community Recycling Enterprises lead by social and environmental mission, while deriving a substantial portion of their income from re-use and recycling, landfill space saved, and Council contracts increasingly incorporating social procurement. As social enterprises, they reinvest the majority of their profit in the fulfillment of their mission.

From small tip shops to multi-state, multi-million dollar enterprises, Community Recycling Enterprises have become a significant contributor to waste reduction and employment creation in Australia.

Take a walk through a sample of these award-winning social businesses, and their innovative take on our waste streams: mattress recycling atSoft Landings; e-waste processing at Renewable Recyclers; landfill and transfer station management at Resource Recovery; office waste management and up-cycling at Green Collect; paper recycling at Flagstaff; tip shop and building deconstruction at Resource Co-op; and festival and event recycling at Green Connect Illawarra.

In 2011, the Queensland University of Technology undertook the first ever baseline study into the size and impact of the Community Recycling sector. The study estimates that Community Recycling Enterprises divert 152,000 tonnes of waste each year, employ 1500 people and contribute over $56 million to the regional economy. These enterprises provide local solutions for waste management, and their scalability is one of their greatest strengths. “Every town with a population of over 10,000 people could sustain a community recycling enterprise” says Peter Cox, Secretary of the Community Recycling Network of Australia.

With the rise of social procurement, the Community Recycling Network of Australia and Resource Recovery Australia are working in partnership to support and grow Community Recycling Enterprises in Australia. Make sure you visit their stand at AWRE, and be sure to watch their short film Waste to Wages. While in Melbourne, consider attending their annual National Forum after the Expo, on November 21st. Details here.

“Social enterprise is a key and vital link in our quest to reduce waste to landfill by encouraging reuse and recycling while giving often socially disadvantaged people in our communities real jobs, new skills, a new sense of purpose, pride and self-esteem. I urge you to find out more about how you can identify, support and expand these opportunities in your community.”  Anne Prince, A. Prince Consulting.


Resource Recovery Australia is a fee for service coaching and consultancy service working with local government and communities to broker, establish, replicate and scale social enterprises that sustainably manage waste and generate local training and employment opportunities.

The Community Recycling Network of Australia is the peak membership body for Community Recycling Enterprises across Australia. CRN Australia exists as an active peer support network and advocacy body for the sector.

Together, these organisations provide support, mentoring, guidance, networking and training to Community Recycling Enterprises all around Australia, at every stage of their development. Their national partnership builds on years of experience running successful social enterprises, and will continue to work towards achieving maximium landfill diversion and sustainable employment for local communities.


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