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Moray Waste Busters sell one-millionth item

By Lewis McBlane

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MORAY Waste Busters have celebrated selling an incredible one million items.

Geordie and Liz Shaw with operations manager Phil MIlls, as they recieve their prizes.
Geordie and Liz Shaw with operations manager Phil MIlls, as they recieve their prizes.

The one-millionth item was a wool craft kit, bought by frequent visitors to the Waterford Road social enterprise Liz and Geordie (George) Shaw.

Operations manager Phil Mills shared his joy at hitting the milestone.

He said: "I am astounded, myself. I feel really proud that we have managed to make a difference and that we are able to continue to grow.

"It was really nice too because the lucky couple who eventually won it are actually very good regulars of ours."

The idea of celebrating the million mark came due to Mr Mills' studious record keeping.

He said: "As part of our sales data, we always collect the numbers of items we pass on.

"So obviously we had been collating that number and I noticed that we were getting close sometime last year.

"I set up a countdown and it finally happened this past week – which is fabulous!"

Mr and Mrs Shaw won a £250 Moray Waste Busters voucher, a bouquet of flowers, a potted plant and a box of Thornton's chocolates.

Moray Waste Busters receive donations of items which would otherwise go to landfill, refurbish them and sell them on for affordable prices.

Each year, the social enterprise sells around 120,000 items a year, and stops 170 tonnes of unwanted items going to landfill.

Over the 17 years they have kept records, the group has given 1880 tonnes of items a new life.

Mr Mills, however, put the figure into context.

He said: "It is quite a big number, I guess, but when you find out that the Council are tipping something like 25,000 tonnes a year of rubbish, the problem looks bigger!

"But our work over 17 years counts ­- it does count."

The organisation has bounced back impressively after Covid, growing by 35% since the easing of restrictions.

Boasting 16 paid employees alongside 10 to 12 regular volunteers, the enterprise, which pays its staff the Real Living Wage, is looking to grow further.

Mr Mills said: "We do very much want to keep the ball rolling and and move toward expansion.

"There has been talk of a potential new site in Elgin and we will be tendering for that site if the council are successful in raising the funds for that.

"If this thing in Elgin comes off, the size of that and the scope of that would make it a bigger concern than this one.

"There could be two or three-times more jobs than we have got here. And that is great.

"We are a Real Living Wage employer as well, so we're trying to do right by the staff too."

A new development for the social enterprise is an increase in the amount of assistance they give to other organisations.

Over 70 organisations receive help from Moray Waste Busters, including nursery and primary schools, charities, arts groups and community groups.

Mr Mills said: "Over the past few years has been over 70 local charity, community groups and schools that we have supported with items for free.

"So what we do every month is, when anybody needs anything, they can come and ask us and if we have got it they can have it for free.

"If we can help with something we absolutely should."

Despite just hitting a massive milestone, Mr Mills is already looking forwards.

He said: "I am actually on the countdown for 2 million items now.

"I am carrying the spreadsheet on and hopefully won't take 17 years to get the next million.

"I need to thank all the staff and of course all the people who donated and all the customers who used us because if not for them – you know – it just wouldn't work!

"So getting here is down to everybody really."

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