Charity turns trash into treasure by winning £10,000 award

CAN Trainees with Plastic
CAN trainees.

BALLYMONEY-based charity CAN (Compass Advocacy Network) has won the prestigious Rank Foundation Accelerator Award worth £10,000.

The Rank Foundation continues as the major charitable legacy of James Arthur Rank, Baron Rank (1888-1972), flour miller, film maker and philanthropist.

This years’ Rank Accelerator Award which had several hundreds of applicants, was whittled down to a final 5 including CAN who were asked to do a presentation as part of the final stage.

This was followed by a gruelling Dragon’s Den type questioning session on how the money would be used.

CAN currently has an intern funded through the Rank foundation, to support the charity in exploring new enterprise opportunities. The event in Blackpool brought over 200 people who are associated with the Rank Foundation’s work.

CAN won the audience vote by a landslide with the judge’s award going to the Nudge Community Builders from Plymouth.

The CAN team showed how the current plastic situation through-out the world is threatening the environment and how a small scale plastic recycling workshop could help to create valuable work experience for their adults with learning disabilities as well as reusing plastics that are not easily recycled.

Derek Campbell, one of CAN’s recent graduates helped to pitch for the award with Janet Schofield, the CEO and Kevin Duffy, newly appointed Director of Enterprise.

Derek accepted the award on behalf of CAN Can. Derek said: “I’m very proud that we won this award. We are very excited about making new things out of waste, turning trash into treasure and treasure into cash”.

CAN will now adopt the Dutch ‘Precious Plastic’ model by commissioning machines to help create an end to end process, literally ‘Turning plastic waste into treasure’ such as bowls, tile etc.

The Precious Plastic model already has success across the world but this would be the first of its kind on the island of Ireland, CAN say.

The charity added that the plastic that CAN could repurpose through its potential workshop could lead to Ballymoney becoming a recycling and zero waste town in Northern Ireland, creating a potential tourism hotspot for eco lovers.

Director of Enterprise, Kevin Duffy said: “CAN is currently processing in excess of 300 tonnes of waste material every year. That’s the weight of 3 blue whales which isn’t going to landfill. We currently process cardboard, aluminium and textiles working with council and local businesses but in 2016, we decided to tackle the complicated world of plastic!”

Kevin added: “Since then we have processed over 17 tonnes (the weight of a double decker bus) of plastic. This project will help us to ‘close the loop’ as instead of sending plastic away, we should be able to turn waste plastic into recycled items like bowls, tiles and backets.

“The support from the Rank Foundation will help us to accelerate our plans and we hope to be producing items from early Spring 2019.”

CAN’s social enterprises support the WE CAN programme funded by ESF, DfE and NHSCT and provide REAL work experience to get people with learning disabilities into work. In 2018 alone, seven trainees have been helped into paid employment.

CAN is a user-led organisation of people with learning disabilities based in Ballymoney but working throughout the Causeway Coast and Glens area and stretching to Ballymena and Ballykelly.

CAN Can Recycling provides a collection service for businesses and processes waste cardboard, aluminium, textiles and plastics.

All of the proceeds from the service and waste processing activities go back into the charity to support young people and adults with learning disabilities, mental health issues and autism.

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