Did you know that for years, vast piles of laundry created by the Shire’s tourism and hospitality industry have been trucked up to Brisbane for washing and drying and then driven back again?
This inefficient system could soon be remedied by a new commercial laundry operation proposal with a strong social conscience.
Run by not-for-profit company White Box Enterprises, the Beacon Laundry say they will not only ensure that the hospitality industry can do more of its laundry locally, but it will also provide jobs for people who have been dealt a difficult hand.
‘We’re going to have 60 people on the payroll, and 50 per cent of them will be people who are doing it tough and want to get back into the workforce,’ said Luke Terry, the head of White Box Enterprises.
‘It might be that they have a disability, an experience of mental illness, drug and alcohol issues, or they might be a refugee or asylum seeker,’ he said.
‘We say, “here’s a job for 37 hours a week, but if you want to do eight hours a week to start with, that’s fine. You just need to have a willingness to work’.”
The company is planning to open the laundry next year, and is hoping to wash 60 tonnes of laundry each week.
Funding has come from local philanthropists, including the co-founder of the Uechtritz foundation, Richard Uechtritz.
The federal Labor government has also committed $750,000 to the project – a promise made during the campaign by the re-elected member for Richmond, Justine Elliot.
‘This project will create jobs and support people in our area, as well as provide a local laundry service for our tourism and hospitality sector that is currently unavailable,’ Mrs Elliot said.
To be located in the Bangalow Industrial Estate at Lots 2, 4 and 6, the Beacon Laundry, Mr Terry said, will also have a series of sustainability and energy saving features that are rare in commercial laundries.
‘Laundries typically use a lot of energy, so we’re working alongside partners to make sure that we’re creating the most energy efficient laundry possible,’ Mr Terry said.
‘The laundry will have considerable use of solar energy and water recycling. To put the water recycling in perspective, your ordinary washing machine uses 27 litres of water per kilo of laundry. The Beacon Laundry will use four.’
Mr Terry said the operation’s dryers would be built in such a way as to allow for future powering by hydrogen, and the operation would use electric vehicles to transport laundry to and from clients. ‘We want this to be an environmental beacon,’ he said.