Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Friday, 11 April 2008 11:32 UK

Man knits nets for recycling vans

Richard Watkins
Richard's grandchildren help him with the nets

A worker, who sorts through rubbish put out for recycling, has turned his hobby of knitting nets into something to help his colleagues.

Richard Watkins, from Pontypool, has made nets to cover the recycling cages in Torfaen council vans.

They prevent clothes being blown out of lorries after roadside collection.

Mr Watkins says he has knitted six miles of nets in his lifetime. There are plans to bring out smaller nets for recycling boxes in the future.

It's marvellous - doing my little bit to save the planet
Richard Watkins

He said: "I started making them as a hobby but now I get lots of requests from parents to make them for storing children's toys.

"I must have made six miles of nets in my lifetime and I'm happy to be doing my bit for recycling. So far the nets have been a success," he added.

His nylon nets are 8ft long by 2ft wide.

They cover the textile sections of nine recycling vans, which are run by Torfaen Cleanstream Recycling.

"It all started in 1976 when a man showed me how to make a net - it was something to do," he explained.


"Back in 1994, I went to the Hereford Game Fair and I entered a net competition and I came first against all these older competitors - I got a medal and a certificate," he said.

Mr Watkins, whose children - and now grandchildren - help him make nets, said he started making the recycling van nets after a request from his manager.

He said: "We have open cages on the back of the lorries and when the lads are throwing clothes in some of it can come out when the van brakes.

"My manager can said you put one of your nets across it. So I did and then stretched bungee cord through it.

"We put them on a fortnight ago and it was such a success - they have all got them on now.

"It's marvellous - doing my little bit to save the planet," he added.

The council is looking at trialling nets for householders' recycling boxes later this year.

Cleanstream Manager Roger Mills said he was happy with the net scheme.

He said: "We were determined to come up with something to help prevent textiles falling out and I think the nets are a great idea," he said.

"It's a bonus that they have been made by one of our staff."

Around 38,000 homes have black recycling boxes in the borough of Torfaen.


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