In no particular order… Rachelle Strauss - My Zero Waste We spoke to Rachelle earlier in the year and she had some very interesting things to say about waste. As the founder of My Zero Waste and Zero Waste Week, Rachelle has acquired a loyal following of people and businesses who are keen to clamp down on their disposals and help save the planet. Rachelle was voted the number one ‘mover and shaker’ in the world of waste reduction by Resource Magazine.
With landfills nearly full, would you agree that it is vital that investment is made now into improving waste reduction? Of course! One of the biggest challenges we face is lack of cohesion around the country with regards to recycling. Wouldn’t it be simpler if all Local Authorities offered the same recycling facilities? And what about saying to manufacturers “You can design the packaging or product IF there is a simple, local and effective way for consumers to recycle it at the end of useful life.” I’d like to see inbuilt obsolescence phased out, the return of repair shops and how about the return of deposits on glass bottles?
Karen Cannard - The Rubbish Diet We interviewed Karen at the tail end of 2014, after her presence on social media and across waste blogs was continually felt. Karen’s influence has led to her becoming a respected authority on waste reduction and her blog, The Rubbish Diet, attracts thousands of readers.
If you had to give one tip for bin-slimming what would it be? Don’t settle for Status Quo. I don’t mean the band, I mean the size of your rubbish bin. Most people who take The Rubbish Diet slim their bins by at least 40%, even if at first they didn’t think they could make much of a difference. The Diet encourages people to find ways to slim their bin that work for their lifestyle, wherever they live: whether it’s discovering new items that can be recycled at your kerbside or supermarket, finding new ways to use up leftovers or swapping disposal products for reusable alternatives.
Iain Gulland - Zero Waste Scotland We had the pleasure of listening to Iain, Director of Zero Waste Scotland, talk about the circular economy at this year’s Resource Event, and we can see why he was recently named the most influential person in waste by Resource magazine. Here’s an excerpt taken from our report of the event.
Please introduce your approach to the Circular Economy Iain: The circular approach is subjective, what we need are the rudiments of a coherent and intelligent method. Many years ago, Recycling and Waste departments never used to consult with economists, so this is a new approach for the system. The relationship is new, but it involves looking at waste from an economic perspective rather than a physical one. We have become very open to ideas and accelerations in Scotland. One thing that it is dangerous to do with a circular economy is to talk in trillions (of pounds). Everything is harder in a linear economy, what we must solve to progress in the journey to a circular economy is some of the ecological issues. There are trade-offs to be done and relationship management for the optimization of resources and energy use and logistics must be scrutinized. It all makes sense, but it requires pilots taking place and showing success before the government is willing to make decisions.
Jonathan Straight - Straight PLC Not just important, Jonathan Straight is eccentric, brilliant and entered the recycling products industry at the perfect time. Striking a deal with local authorities several years ago, Straight PLC are now responsible for the majority of domestic recycling products. Mr Straight is a memorable chap too, with a Salvador Dali moustache and bags of charisma. Go look at your recycling box, there’s a good chance that Straight PLC made it, but don’t be fooled into thinking he is just a manufacturer; Straight is recognised as an expert and leader in the waste industry. Mike Biddle - MBA Polymers Mike Biddle stepped down as CEO of MBA Polymers back in February 2014, but despite vacating the role, he remains one of the most important people in waste for several good reasons. Mike brought a great deal of investment and innovation to the UK when he set up a recycling facility in Worksop. His PhD in Chemical Engineering and an MBA from Stanford stood him in good stead to make a real success of plastics recycling. More than two decades after setting up the facility, one of Biddle’s complaints is that his recycling network collects only 300 million tonnes, of the estimated 500 billion pounds of plastics that are thrown out every year. He has spent years pressuring the US government to take an approach similar to the EU in regards to white goods waste, placing some of the recycling responsibility on the manufacturer. Currently, weak regulations are allowing e-waste to be sent to China and West Africa, among other places, for a fiscally cheap, yet environmentally expensive, end-of life. He says "People, for as little as a dollar a day, dig through our stuff and extract what they can and leave behind what they can't, which is mostly the plastics”. You can read more about this in our features on Guiyu and Agbogbloshie. Andy Cummins  - Surfers Against Sewage Andy was the first person Plastic Expert interviewed about the waste and plastic crisis, talking particularly about the issue of ocean pollution. As the Campaigns Director of Surfers Against Sewage, it was immediately obvious that Andy had a personal vendetta against all the plastic in the ocean. Andy is a huge supporter of the single-use plastic bag tax, and as he explains below:
“We often hear the phrase ‘there is no plan(et) B’. So we all need to think about adopting sustainable achievable solutions. The bag charge is an easy solution that will help us all to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. We need to adopt many more solutions like this that have minimal impact on our lives but implemented throughout society can have significant positive impacts on the environment.”
Emma Marsh - Love Food Hate Waste Emma Marsh is the head of Love Food Hate Waste, WRAP’s consumer food waste campaign. Since 2007, the initiative has grown, and now they even have a mobile app that allows you to measure what you buy, plan meals and reduce your food waste. The scheme can boast that the amount of food waste in the UK has dropped by 21%, saving consumers £3.3 billion pounds a year! This equates to £470 per household, and although you may not feel the difference directly, the difference has been made to the products you buy. With Emma’s frontline guidance, products are packaged and labelled more efficiently and even sold in different amounts. Think, for example, of products like Heinz Snap Pots, these are the sort of products that are born from the ideas of reducing food waste. Emma is consistently recognised for her dedicated work in the industry, and we’d like to say thank you to her too! Liz Goodwin - CEO WRAP It’s nigh on impossible to be in the waste or recycling industry without recognizing Liz and all of the hard work she has put in. She took over as CEO of WRAP in 2007, after serving from 2001 as the first Director of Materials Programme. WRAP has blossomed under her leadership, going from strength to strength, through a mixture of brilliant ideas, media exposure and the success of schemes like the Courtauld Commitment. Liz’s vision of a circular economy is coming together nicely, and this can be seen through the sheer number of businesses who are restructuring and managing themselves to provide better resource efficiency and reap the rewards of being more circular. WRAP will continue to improve over time, and their invaluable partnership with local authorities will see domestic recycling go in leaps and bounds. Ray Georgeson - Resource Association We tried to summarise all of the invaluable roles Ray has been in over the years, but found that Forum for the Future had already done a marvellous job. Thanks to FFTF for this summary:
“Ray’s interest and career in the recycling and resources world has involved many roles spanning more than 30 years; starting as a Friends of the Earth (FoE) volunteer waste paper collector in 1980 and now acting as part-time Chief Executive of the Resource Association alongside his Ray Georgeson Resources (RGR) consultancy and non-executive roles with Bryson Recycling and LondonWaste. In between, he has worked for Waste Watch, Community Recycling Network and other social enterprises, and was a founding director of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) where he was Policy Director from 2001-8. In 2011 he helped to launch the Resource Association, which represents recycling and reprocessing companies and their supply chain and focuses on the role of high quality recycling and manufacturing within the emerging circular economy. Ray is a long-standing member of FoE, Green Alliance and CAMRA and is presently a trustee of Waste Aid International (a new development charity) and on the board of Green Liberal Democrats. He was appointed MBE for services to sustainable waste management in 1999 and is a Chartered Waste Manager and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.”
You can see why Ray is important to waste in the UK, he’s been involved since it first became a national issue, and he’s spent more than three decades trying to combat it. Great work Ray! Did we miss anyone that you think was worth a mention? Tweet us @PlasticExpertUK and we will make sure that they get the deserved recognition.