What is your job and what does it involve?
We are Kevin and Amanda – the Council’s Waste Minimisation Officers. We’re here to help people living in Derby manage their waste efficiently by promoting recycling.
What does a day-to-day schedule typically look like?
We visit people who feel they need more space in their bins, advising them on which items are or are not recyclable and why. We attend events around the city, and work in partnership with other Council departments, but essentially our main role is to engage with the public.
How did you end up in your current role?
Amanda – I’ve been in private waste management for 15 years. This project appealed to me because it gave me an opportunity to use the skills I’d already learned and to engage directly with the public.
Kevin – I started off in a temporary role at the Council five years ago, working on a project visiting people at homes in Mackworth. I really enjoyed it, so after some other varied work experience both within and outside of the Council, I’ve now come back to work on this project. I have always enjoyed doing this work, because I really believe in what we do.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Probably seeing that the recycling rate in Derby has increased by 3%, and contamination has decreased by nearly 50%*. We love seeing cleaner streets, too – when we started going out and about last year, some streets weren’t as clean as they are now. It gives you a really nice buzz.
The people of Derby have done this – we’ve helped encourage them, but it’s them who have actually done it. A 3% increase is an awful lot! We’ve asked this of residents, and they have risen to the challenge. It makes us wonder, how much further can we take that? It’s exciting!
What challenges do you face?
Our biggest challenge is managing people’s expectations – we receive a lot of requests for bigger black bins which might not always be needed. Our job is to visit these residents and explain that they don’t necessarily need a bigger black bin if they use their blue bin efficiently.
We try to change people’s attitudes that the black bin is priority bin, or that it’s ‘easier’ to put everything in black bin. Of course, if people don’t have a blue bin then we work with them to explore other options, but where people have a blue bin and don’t use it as much as they could, we try to show them that this is a great way to manage their waste.
Generally, people in Derby have engaged really well with this project. We’ve had no real issues when talking to people about what we’re trying to promote; most people have really got on board.
What inspires you about the recycling and waste industry?
We really believe in it. Environmentally we should look after the planet, and aesthetically we should look after our patch in Derby. If we take care of our little bit of the world it builds to a bigger picture: a cleaner Derby means a better environment overall.
What are your top tips for Derby residents when it comes to recycling and waste?
Check out the information on our website, as well as anything we put on the bins themselves – we often use tags, leaflets and stickers on bins to give advice. If you have a specific query, you can contact the team directly.
A few key ‘no thank yous’ for the blue bin: food waste (a key contaminant) and plastic carrier bags – we have no way of knowing whether what’s inside is recyclable!
We promote a number of initiatives for reducing waste, including Love Food Hate Waste and our washable nappy scheme. We encourage people to avoid single-use plastic and disposable coffee cups, too, and if they do use them, to use the right bin, and never litter. Be aware of packaging when you go shopping: try to buy loose fruit and veg for example rather than something wrapped in plastic. If people don’t have a blue bin, check out any ‘bring’ schemes and local recycling points.
Lastly, if you see us out and about, come to say hello! We’re always happy to have a chat.
*Data for Quarter 3 (October-December) of 2017, compared to Q3 of 2016.