Long-standing volunteer – Greg Liddy – has been an integral part of Urban Miners since the concept was first proposed by founders Mark Hanlon and David Blewden.

He shares his observations about how the organisation has grown over the past 2 years and how the team has become much savvier about how they do things.

“Mark and Dave spoke to me one night in the early days and talked about where Urban Miners could go and how it could go.”

“They went through the process and got some seed funding and then Dave twisted my arm a couple of months later and said ‘Would you like to give me a hand?’”

Greg thought it sounded interesting and was quick to get involved.

“It’s been fun. We never knew how many screws there were in a TV! Nor did we know how many different components there were in a TV that could be recycled.”

“When we first started, we were sending most things on a pallet to [partner recycling companies] and getting charged for it. Then as we got smarter, we started to take things apart.”

“From memory, we were sending probably two-thirds of our e-waste on a pallet and getting charged for it. Now it is less than one-third because we are taking things apart, taking components out, getting cash for them, and diverting e-waste from the dreaded landfill as well. It’s been a good feeling to see that happening.”

Watching the growth of Urban Miners has also been interesting to Greg.

“I remember at first, we had bits and pieces EVERYWHRE. We didn’t know where anything was. It’s been very satisfying for me that we’ve managed to put processes in place.”

“We’ve got bins dedicated to different items and stream-lined the whole operation. So, if you were here on day 1, we had 20 bins and now we’ve got about 5. We’ve also got worktables to make it easy for everyone to dissemble, and we have given them decent tools.”

Greg says that Urban Miners has been embraced by the Cambridge and Te Awamutu communities, and the various community awards presented to Urban Miners have also helped to boost their profile.

“We’ve taken lots of computers and big old CRT TVs out of peoples’ garages which have obviously been sitting there for an awful long time, looking at the dust and poo on them!”

As a non-Rotarian, Greg believes that the collaborative approach taken by Urban Miners to involve Rotary and non-Rotary volunteers has also been key to its success.

“But we haven’t got the millennials yet!” he observes.

“Trying to convince younger people to get up early on a Sunday morning and bring their old E-waste to our collections takes some doing! We’ve still a lot of middle-aged and older people clearing out their garages, but we haven’t touched that millennials base.”

Food for thought!

This is another great initiative for the benefit of us as a society. We’ve got so much electronic stuff out there which was just going into a big hole in the ground.

Greg Liddy