One man’s trash is another mans treasure. Aluminium cans for most of us are considered trash. However for Martin, finding an empty soft drink can carelessly tossed on the sidewalk or placed in a public rubbish bin destined for landfill, is like finding a coin.
Martin invited us along to West Auckland Rehabilitation, where he is currently undergoing rehabilitation for a head injury sustained in a car accident. He proudly showed us two large plastic boxes filled to the brim with crushed cans he had collected over a month.
Martin is well known around West Auckland as “The Can Man”. “The coaches drive me to local markets, such as the Avondale Market and other popular public places, to collect cans,” says Martin. By prompting Martin when he needs assistance, the rehab coaches at West Auckland empower him to maintain his independence.
Aluminium cans are the most cost-effective material to recycle as they can be reprocessed and used for an indefinite period . This is what makes aluminium cans so valuable. Martin sells the cans he collects to a scrap metal recycling yard. “I made around $80 last time,” says Martin.
Martin enjoys being outside and tries to get out daily to collect cans. He walks a few kilometres each day collecting cans and he’s even mastered the art of crushing the cans with his hands. Not only is it great exercise, Martin is doing his bit to ensure perfectly good cans don’t end up in landfill. Every aluminium can Martin recycles saves enough energy to run a television for three hours .
Currently, most public bins don’t separate recyclables from non-recyclables. However, initiatives such as the Public Place Recycling Scheme are trying to roll out more recycling bins in popular public places, with a goal to install 3400 of these bins across New Zealand by 2020 . In the mean time, we need good sorts like Martin to recycle aluminium cans that are destined for landfill.