New Van Boosts 10 Cent Tom’s Impact

November 13 2023

The Gold Coast’s own 'King of Recycling' is expanding his reach and impact with the help of a new van, sponsored by long-term supporter Kollosche.
New Van Boosts 10 Cent Tom’s Impact

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.

Tom, MK and Kara | Kollosche

Having donated 80 blue collection bins to the 10 Cent Tom cause last year, Kollosche is now supporting Tom to expand his reach by donating $15,000 towards a new van.

“Being able to assist Tom in buying a larger van and a hydraulic lifter means expanding the charity’s reach even further,” says Kollosche Community Fund chairperson Kara Christensen.

Established in 2021, the Community Fund collects a percentage of every property sold by Kollosche agents to support special causes by way of donations and sponsorships.

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.

Tom, MK and Kara | Kollosche

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.”

10 Cent Tom | Kollosche

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.

Inspired by Tom’s determination and passion, Kollosche recognised the opportunity to align its own focus on sustainability with the 10 Cent Tom mission.

“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.

Tom, MK and Kara | Kollosche

Every 10 cents Tom saves goes towards his ultimate plan to open a 10 Cent Tom Recycling Depot on the Gold Coast and employ people with disabilities to sort containers ready for recycling.

“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.”

Find out more about 10 Cent Tom and the Kollosche Community Fund.

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