Miguel de Freitas: A 30-year commitment to ‘Keeping the Island Running’

Miguel de Freitas, a 50-year old site advisor in the Infrastructure and Environment department, celebrates 30 years of public service this month. The past five of which have been spent working at Jersey’s Household Recycling and Reuse Centre, and in this first of a series of features, Miguel shares how he plays his part in “keeping the Island running”.

With a love for music and cycling, Miguel starts his day with a blast of reggae and heads into work at La Collette on his bike, from his home in St Ouen.

As the Island’s only waste facility centre, site advisors support people who are there for all kinds of reasons, from those who may be visiting the Recycling Centre excited as they’re moving house, to those dealing with bereavement.

On a busy day, the team will help around 750 customers – that’s around one car arriving every 45 seconds, and around 18 tonnes of material is sorted daily. Despite the demanding nature of his role, Miguel’s goal is clear: to ensure the experience is positive and simple for everyone, all while maintaining a friendly smile.

“It’s a lot for your mind – to deal with one customer straight after the other, but I always try to help everyone and make sure that all the material is going in the right places. You need to have a really good attitude, and a good sense of humour helps.”

Working shift patterns at La Collette, Miguel explains how his role can vary day to day:

“There are so many things we do that the public won’t realise. A lot of people think we’re just here at the Recycling Centre but we’re actually all over the place. We all know exactly what to do at the different sites and can help out if a team may be off – we had to do that a lot during Covid.

“People don’t realise that it can actually be six or more jobs in one, you’re very nomadic. You could come in the morning and think you’re gonna be at one place, but actually you’re over there at the Energy Recovery Facility or Bulky Waste. You have to be very flexible.

Storm Ciaran recently meant Miguel was being pulled from every direction, from managing fallen trees at the Green Waste facility, to dealing with asbestos contaminated debris such as roof tiles.

“The storm was a lot, it was so strong down here at the Centre – it actually blew over the Salvation Army bins which I was amazed at, they were full of clothes too, it was really powerful.”

Despite battling the elements, Miguel’s love for his work shines through. Grown over decades of outdoor work, his positive attitude serves as an inspiration to his colleagues around him. Even in the winter, when the cold bites, he puts on a few extra layers and does his best to keep spirits high.

Miguel helping a customer at the Household Recycling Centre.

“In the summer, everyone wants to work here because, of course, it’s lovely weather, but in the winter you have to keep smiling even if the weather is rough. We can be shivering and our backs lock up because it is so cold, but I’ve been working outdoors for years, ever since I was 20.

“We get through, and I love the fact we’re a big family. The department is like a body with separate parts but we’re all one big team really. I see colleagues working on the roads on my cycle in in the morning, and other teams in I&E as well, I wave to them and I love it.”

Overall, Miguel provides a glimpse into the life of a Site Advisor at La Collette, where each day brings new challenges, unexpected events, and the satisfaction of contributing to efficient waste management in Jersey. The camaraderie and commitment from people like Miguel helps to ensure the Infrastructure and Environment department keep the Island running.

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