As his truck with its distinctive blue livery approaches container deposit scheme (CDS) return points around Sydney, The (pronounced ‘Tee’) Luu is a welcome sight for customers wanting to recycle bottles, cans and cartons and get their 10 cent refunds through the Return and Earn scheme.
“They’re very happy to see us coming,” says the Cleanaway driver, who has been driving trucks for about 15 years after an earlier career working in roles at furniture and glass factories and a printer.
The joined Cleanaway after the NSW CDS was introduced in 2017 and since then has emptied reverse vending machines (RVMs) at about 160 locations across Sydney, working six days a week and driving up to 250 kilometres per day.
Born in Vietnam, he migrated to Australia when he was 17 and eventually identified truck driving as the job for him.
A customer wrote to Cleanaway recently to let us know what a great ambassador The is for Cleanaway and Return and Earn.
The customer was impressed that The took the time to explain that the RVMs were filling due to exceptional demand and later to advise that it had been emptied.
He wrote that it was ‘a great example of the culture you have clearly embedded in your teams.’
The modestly brushes off this accolade, saying: “It’s our job to deal with the public. We do what we have to do. I do my best but it’s nothing special.”
He works the afternoon and night shift, operating from the CDS metropolitan Sydney base at Cleanaway’s Blacktown branch to service machines that need emptying, as indicated by the electronic sensors in every RVM.
With a capacity of more than 50,000 containers, some RVMs need to be emptied up to six times a day, particularly since the closure and reopening of the scheme due to COVID-19 restrictions in NSW.
It is through this role that he has come to recognise people who regularly pick up containers off the street.
“If you drive around, you are not seeing many cans on the street because they have become money. People go around picking them up. They tell us they can make $100 in a day. It’s like a second job to them,” The says.
The opens machines to access the bins which are wheeled to the rear of his truck where an arm lifts and empties them before he returns them.
“We felt like we had been ‘hammered’ after they reopened in Sydney after being closed for seven to eight weeks, he says.
Despite it sometimes being that busy, The would not have it any other way because he loves his job.
He sometimes takes his two sons, aged nine and seven, to a local RVM on his day off to ‘show them what Daddy does’.
“I’m going to retire in this job. It’s very fulfilling, it pays well and the people are very nice,” The says.
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