Vinnies Echuca takes on Green Sparks volunteers

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Sparks flying: Vinnies north-east Victoria area manager Shannon Cole is thrilled Vinnies stores across Victoria have launched a new program to give electrical goods a second chance in a new home. Photo by Steve Huntley

St Vincent de Paul Society stores in Victoria have launched a new, volunteer-run program to give quality electrical goods a second chance at life by accepting them into its stores for testing, tagging and re-sale.

In the past, any electrical goods that were personally donated to Vinnies were declined and any that were found in the donation bins were discarded and transported to landfill.

Vinnies was awarded a $250,000 grant from the Recycling Victoria Communities Fund in September 2021 to support the project, which has covered the cost of training Green Sparks electrical test and tag program volunteers across Australia.

Vinnies north-east Victoria area manager Shannon Cole said Echuca Vinnies had already had a significant amount of electrical items being donated since Saturday, June 11 — when they first started accepting e-donations.

“DVD players, lamps, television screens, kettles, amongst a wide variety of other electrical goods have all been donated and are ready to be re-homed,” Mr Cole said.

Since the ETTP initiative commenced, Vinnies Shops across Victoria have increased their electrical trade by over 18 per cent.

Echuca Vinnies will only be taking on electrical items that qualify for donation.

Mr Cole said there were a significant number of benefits to come from the new program, which had been in the works for around six months.

“It is more convenient for donors who are looking to get rid of electrical goods and for customers who are looking to purchase cheaper electronics, it provides a second life to functional items and it is preventing quality items from going to waste into landfill,” Mr Cole said.

“On top of all these benefits, this program is also helping to up-skill our volunteers by allowing them to take on an accredited ETTP course online, if they wish to.”

There are currently four Green Sparks ETTP volunteers at Echuca Vinnies who will be testing each electronics item twice — once for function and once for compliance.

Mr Cole said all of the ETTP volunteers had to undertake a four-hour online course and a subsequent accreditation assessment.

“I think one of the most surprising elements is how many people raised their hand and opted to take part in the course,” he said.

“It’s been really nice to see that so many of our volunteers are eager to develop their current skill set.”

Plugged in: Vinnies north-east Victoria area manager Shannon Cole demonstrates that all the items have been vigorously tested to confirm functionality and then tagged upon confirmation. Photo by Steve Huntley

Tips for successful e-Waste donation include donating electrical goods that are new or fully functioning in order to qualify for donation and visiting your local Vinnies during business hours so that a dedicated test and tag volunteer can verify if your donation is suitable for test, tag and re-sale.

Anyone who is eager to donate their e-Waste but are unsure if their item will qualify can phone Vinnies Echuca on 5482 3568.

Vinnies is always searching for volunteers, please contact them if you’d like to get involved.