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Feature: Crystal clear vision

Chris Scholey is a man who knows his glass. With 20 years' experience, a background in sales and marketing and posts including managing director of Rexam Glass, vice-chairman of the advisory committee on packaging and director of the Packaging Federation, his pedigree in the industry is impeccable.


No doubt this track record will stand him in good stead in his new role of director of strategy and communications at British Glass. Scholey will be working on a consultative basis for the company two days a week - his job differing slightly from that of his predecessor Andy Hartley, who was a full-time team member. Despite time and cash restrictions, Scholey has a clear method of work mapped out, not to mention a clear agenda.


"I need to be focused and not take a shotgun approach, doing lots of different things at once," he says. "I have a modest budget and am only here two days a week, so this focus is essential."


Within his remit Scholey says that packaging waste is a critical issue. "The glass industry is so far doing well in terms of recycling and this year we expect to see a figure of 1.2 million tonnes, which will be a record," he says. "This will give a recycling rate of 48%, well ahead of the Defra target of 44.6%."


With a target of 60% by 2008, Scholey says the next three years are going to be tough and that 2006 will be the first really difficult year. With this in mind, he says that discussions need to take place with Defra to re-examine how the industry is going to get to the all-important 60% mark. But Scholey says progress so far has been impressive, and with PRN prices averaging £10-£15 since the system was introduced, good increases have been achieved without it costing the industry too much.


But with challenging targets facing him, Scholey says the difficulty will be in maintaining momentum. A significant part of this will be getting more material separated at source and moving away from mixed collection, which in turn will mean continuing to work with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and local authorities.


With colour imbalance a continuing problem, Scholey says that he is looking for opportunities to promote the use of clear glass, particularly in the wine industry.


Encouraged by moves such as the Courtauld Commitment, where 13 top grocery retailers have expressed their commitment to reducing the amount of packaging and food waste, Scholey hopes to see more of this type of initiative.


"Around 80% of white wine is packaged in green glass for no good reason," he says. "I'm hoping to work with a number of parties and bring about some pressure to convert from green to clear." In addition to this, Scholey says that red wine also offers possibilities for clear glass packaging.


It is not only the colour of wine bottles that interests him. With imported bottles varying in weight, he says that much can be done to reduce this weight and subsequently packaging waste. But, colour separation, waste minimisation and the increased use of clear glass are big issues and ones that cannot be tackled in isolation.


"None of this can be done by British Glass alone," says Scholey. "We need to continue developing partnerships and working well with organisations such as WRAP and local authorities. Once all these groups are mobilised, much can be achieved."

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