WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin has called for more action “on the ground” to deliver the circular economy (CE) this year.
In one of her final keynotes for the charity, Goodwin emphasised the benefits for small and large companies alike in taking a “leap of faith” to a more circular business model.
She also railed against “negative connotations” associated with recycling and collections, saying the sector had more than doubled in size since 2000 despite the recession.
Speaking at industry event Resource in London, Goodwin noted that challenges to the recycling industry include struggling plastics reprocessing businesses and plateauing recycling rates.
“But let’s not let the challenges mask the great success story recycling has been in the UK,” she said. “In the time I’ve been at WRAP, we’ve gone from a non-recycling nation to a nation by and large at one with recycling.
“But it’s true that we have more to do. Our work to bring greater consistency to household waste and recycling collections in England is the next step.”
She praised the “passion” of resource minister Rory Stewart for helping to drive this initiative while, in contrast, alluding to former communities secretary Eric Pickles’ negative opinion of recycling.
Goodwin mentioned the charity’s work with independent tyre retreader Bandvulc to develop a service lease model for delivery fleet van tyres as an example of a business transforming successfully to a CE model.
It provides a service to a fleet of vans using its tyres, retreading and refitting them through the life of the contract.
This service has generated new revenue in excess of £4m in the first three years, she said, as well as providing environmental savings, conserving finite raw materials and reducing carbon emissions.
WRAP also worked with retailer Argos to launch a gadget trade-in scheme last year, whereby customers claim store credit for used tablets and mobile phones.
Goodwin also said she looked forward to sharing details of the charity’s latest voluntary food waste scheme, Courtauld Commitment 2025, “very soon”.
“There’s nothing quite like it anywhere in the world,” she said.
Goodwin announced in February that she would step down from her position in June, after nine years at the helm.