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Feature: The secret of WRAPs success

In her office at the HQ of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in Banbury, Oxfordshire, chief executive Jennie Price seems confident and relaxed ahead of what could be a major reorganisation of the Government-funded body.

She has put forward a business plan to begin in April (subject to a successful consultation period) that would see WRAP move away from its current material-specific programme and look at getting big hits from retail, construction waste, organics, the manufacturing sector, land remediation and behavioural changes to encourage more recycling. This follows confirmation of funding until 2008.

“This is our first period of stability,” she says. “When we first got funding for WRAP, we took on board a lot of work that the Waste Implementation Programme had been doing and had no time to stand back. We have now taken the opportunity to stand back, learn and look at what we do.”

This means that Price has used this period of stability to analyse what has worked in the first four years of the organisation: “We did the obvious things to begin with, but now we need to move on. The question that has been asked is what can be done to build on our successes? We wanted to be sure of big hits.”

One of the first big hits to be considered was construction and demolition. “It was obvious to zero in on construction,” she says. “There are lots of products, but also lots of opportunities for the industry to become more efficient. We have made some inroads into improving recycling in the construction industry through our specific material programmes, but putting everything into one place can ensure that we make a bigger impact.”

Retail is another area that she has decided to focus the efforts of WRAP on. This is because of the undoubted power of the retail sector and, in particular, the supermarkets as agents of change. For example, WRAP has signed up 13 major retailers, including Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer, to the Courtauld Commitment, which will ensure that these companies design-out packaging waste growth by 2008, deliver absolute packaging waste reduction by 2010 and look at ways to tackle the problems from food waste.

Linked to this encouragement of retailers is a move towards getting packaging manufacturers to look at ways they can use more recycled content.

“There will be a focus on where we can get big changes in the manufacturing process,” says Price. “Driving this through is the use of HDPE milk cartons. These can be made from 100% recycled resin. We have done trials and it works wonderfully, and you cannot tell the difference between a virgin material product and the recycled one. We have also looked at the economics and it works. The next step is to get a willing manufacturer to change its manufacturing process.”

WRAP is working behind the scenes to get retailers to put pressure on these packaging manufacturers. This is with the aim of getting them to look at their processes to see if recycled materials can be incorporated into the packaging products. It should therefore also create new markets for recycled materials. Indeed, WRAP has already succeeded in getting companies such as Marks & Spencer, Boots and Coca-Cola to trial recycled content in their packaging and, so far, according to Price, the results seem positive.

Part of the new emphasis will be to align WRAP’s work more closely with Governme

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