Real recycling

Published on Aug 27, 2020

In the days before plastic bottles and council recycle bins, the recycling of glass bottles was a profitable business for the local Scout groups. It was common practice back then for glass bottles to be collected, cleaned and refilled, a real demonstration of how to recycle.

Beer bottles were the most valuable to recycle. Scout groups would run a "Bottle Drive" where they would collect beer bottles from the neighbourhood houses and stack them up alongside the Scout Hall, ready to be collected by the recycler. The Scout group didn't get paid a lot, but it was an excellent fundraiser to help them buy camping equipment.

At fourteen, my first job was to work for the recycler, working long days travelling around to the different Scout halls, stacking the bottles into crates and loading them up onto the truck. It was physically demanding work, and I got paid $15.00 for an honest day's work.

It could be a dangerous job, broken bottles were always a risk, and it was not uncommon to get a few small cuts through the day. Occasionally a gash may require a bit more attention when a band-aid wasn't enough. There were few, if any, occupational health and safety rules back then. In hindsight, we should have taken a few more precautions.

Now that every home has a recycling bin, the task of recycling has become easier. I loved that job, and have fond memories of a great boss.