Rubbishing no deterrent: a day in the life of a City of Cockburn waste education officer


Waste education officer Maddison Vause educates community members on disposing their waste correctly.
Waste education officer Maddison Vause educates community members on disposing their waste correctly.

WHILE sorting out your rubbish may seem like a waste of time, for City of Cockburn waste education officer Maddison Vause it’s the reason she’s up at the crack of dawn every morning.

Miss Vause invited the Cockburn Gazette to have a look at what happens on a day-to-day basis as she and her team of 15 goes door-to-door monitoring waste collection at the City.

The 23-year-old, along with two or three others (depending on the day), visits homes on bin collection day to make sure residents are disposing of their waste correctly.

Often the target of abuse and ridicule, Miss Vause, who has a double degree in environmental science and sustainability, said it was all part of the job.

“I’ve been yelled at, told to get a ‘real job’ and then there are days people come out to chat to see if they’ve done the right thing,” she said.

“People are concerned about their privacy but we are not rummaging through the bins.”

Rummaging is something the officers don’t do. They look through the bins, giving them a quick glance over and making sure residents understand the City’s three-bin system.

“As part of the education we offer four audits, a doorknock, a goodie educational tub and we walk around labelling the bins with smiley faces or unhappy faces,” she said.

“The majority of the community gets happy faces, so it just shows education works.”

As part of the Gazette’s tour, a resident came out to make sure he’d done the right thing. Seeing smiley faces on his bins, he offers Miss Vause a big high five.

“It’s stuff like that which makes it all worth it,” she said.

“We are people too and we are helping to get their (residents) rates down and I know as a resident and ratepayer of the City it’s nice to know this is where my money is going.”

And while it might not be everyone’s idea of the dream job, for Miss Vause the passion for waste management is evident.

“For many people it sounds like a dirty topic but it’s so interesting,” she said.

“We have to think about our waste. We only have one planet and we have to look after it.”

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