The 10-cent recycling kid makes a thriving business by collecting drink containers

Young entrepreneur Lockie Patterson-Smyth contributes to keeping the environment clean by recycling everything he can through his business, 10-cent Recycling Kid

Lockie Patterson-Smyth, also known as the 10-cent Recycling Kid, has found his passion through collecting drink containers. “I started off trying to make some extra pocket change, and then it blew up from there,” says Lockie. The 15-year-old boy has autism, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the most active recyclers around. “We’re really surprised he wanted to stick with it, it’s quite often hard for him to keep his focus on things,” says his mother, Sammie Smyth. “We’re just really happy he found something he’s passionate about.”  

The Queensland deposit return scheme gives consumers 10 cents (AUD$) when they return their drink containers for recycling. Lockie’s business model is simple: customers fill up their bags with empty drink containers for recycling, then Lockie collects the containers and brings them down to his local TOMRA recycling center. The customer receives five cents back for every eligible container, and Lockie keeps the other five cents. It’s a business model that’s beneficial for all parties: customers, Lockie and the environment. He has acquired quite a few regular customers in his community, everyone from businesses, neighbors, and local families. The 10-cent Recycling Kid returned over 150,000 bottles and cans in 2020 and has reached over 80,000 this year so far. This is no small feat considering the Covid-related regulations in Australia in the last year and a half. 

A young TOMRA "eco-preneur"

Lockie’s success as a young recycling entrepreneur caught the attention of the TOMRA team, through his social media posts and local press articles. TOMRA reached out to Lockie and decided to name him the second TOMRA Eco-preneur Award winner. Becoming a TOMRA Eco-preneur qualifies the recycler for some financial assistance with their business venture, and to Lockie’s delight TOMRA offered to design and print some specially customized 10-cent Recycling Kid panels for his box trailer. The trailer was purchased by Lockie with money earned from his recycling business and has been a great contribution to increasing his visibility in the local community. 

Not slowing down any time soon

Lockie was recently nominated for Young Changemaker of the Year at the Change Maker Awards 2021, hosted by Containers for Change Queensland. He doesn’t seem to be slowing down on recycling anytime soon. “I haven’t fully decided what I want to do when I finish school, but I’m quite happy being the 10-cent Recycling Kid for now,” says the young recycler. Lockie often shares his recycling experiences on social media, and you can follow the 10-cent Recycling Kid on Facebook and Instagram to show your support.  

Lockie and trailer