Michael Crossling wasn’t one to waste his working life - having lifted around 4.1million bins during almost 40 years in his job.
The refuse collector, from Harraton, Washington, is marking the start of his retirement and has helped empty the whopping number of bins since he started working at what was Chester-le-Street Rural District Council in 1976.
To do this for 39 years is an incredible achievement.Oliver Sherratt, head of direct services for Durham County Council
He first started on the job after nine years on a farm, with the role suggested to him by older brother James, who was already working on the council’s road repair team.
In those early days, he and four others would work as a crew, carrying the full rubbish bins to the truck on their backs.
Since the mid-80s, wheelie bins have lightened the load, although Michael has said it was still a challenge because they contain more rubbish.
Michael, who will be 65 on Monday, is married to Carol, 56, and dad to Melissa, 22, and is also brother to Richard, 64.
He said: “I like working outside and with the lads on the bins, and we’d start early, so got an early finish and could get home.
“I’ve kept in touch with most of the others from over the years and I still see them for a bit of a chat.
“At the end of my last shift, I shook hands with the lads, they’ve been good to work with.
“Our lass has made a list of things for me to do.”
Michael also plans to spend time fishing during his retirement.
Durham County Council, the unitary authority which was formed when Chester-le-Street District Council and others across the county merged in 2009, presented Michael with a certificate marking his achievement as he reached his last week at work.
Oliver Sherratt is head of direct services for Durham County Council, has paid tribute to Michael’s dedication to the job.
He said: “Despite all the modern advances, refuse and recycling collection is still a very tough job, going out in all weathers and conditions to ensure this fundamental council service is delivered.
“To do this for 39 years is an incredible achievement.
“We all wish Michael a long and happy retirement, and know that come the winter he will be sparing more than a thought for colleagues who take care of his bins.”