New Van Boosts 10 Cent Tom’s Impact
November 13 2023
Collecting glass bottles and cans started off as a way of connecting with neighbours and earning a little pocket money for Gold Coast local Tom Pirie.
Fast forward three years and Tom is the face and the driving force behind 10 Cent Tom, a thriving social enterprise that has captured the heart of the local community.
Working with the support of family and a carer, Tom travels across the coast in his van to collect the containers from each bin, chatting to his “customers” as he goes.
The timing of the new van couldn’t be better – from 1 November, wine and spirit bottles were made eligible for a 10-cent refund under Queensland’s Containers for Change program.
The new Ford Transit Van– which has been fitted with a hydraulic lift to make light work out of lifting the heavier bottles – is a dream come true for Tom and his closest supporters, including mum and 10 Cent Tom Director Carolyn Pirie.
“When we first began collecting, we felt we’d be successful, just based on how people were reacting to what we were doing,” says Carolyn. “However, we had no idea how big it would grow in such a short amount of time.”
Tom’s journey hasn’t been without its challenges. He faced an intellectual impairment as a child and, at the age of 15, underwent corrective surgery for severe scoliosis, which resulted in steel rods being permanently placed in his back.
However, Tom certainly doesn’t see any barriers to success – he continues to travel up and down the coast, collecting donations, advocating for people with disabilities, and inspiring individuals from all walks of life.
“We thought what an incredible opportunity to combine our own recycling initiatives and help a much-loved member of the community at the same time,” says Kara.
“There are challenges to what we do, such as working with the weight of glass containers,” adds Carolyn. “But as it grows, we get closer to our goal of hiring more people with disabilities.”