It is a good thing Simon Abel enjoys a challenge.

In August, just as the nation went into another lockdown, Simon was embarking on his new role as Wastebusters’ recycling team leader in Alexandra.

At the time, people across the country stopped work, spent time with family or worked from home, but Mr Abel was out in the field,embracing his new role as an essential worker.

Under strict Government guidelines, Mr Abel was able to collect recycling from essential businesses, including supermarkets, medical centres and pharmacies.

He said, in some respects the timing of his new role was “a baptism by fire”, but it also allowed him to ease into the job; focusing on Wastebusters “essential business” clients, supporting the few Wastebusters recycling staff who were onsite in Level 4 and keeping up the morale of Buster, the Wastebusters cat.

“It was an interesting way to start.”

Mr Abel, who originates from Westport, spent the previous five months driving trucks for Wastebusters in Wanaka.

Prior to that he spent a year working in environmental land management in Australia and three-and-a-half years in Canada where he had a range of jobs and played amateur rugby.

This season he pulled his boots on for the Cromwell Goats, which beat Upper Clutha in the final to win the Central Otago competition.

His next mission is to build on the work of Wastebusters.

“I’m keen to have a bit of fun while building on the positive relationship that we have with the community,” he said.