Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021

Recycle Week 2021: Yes, waste management is cool

Ross Brown, Cory’s Head of Communications and Public Affairs

It’s the UK’s 18th annual Recycle Week, which this year focuses on encouraging citizens to recycle more in the fight against climate change. This theme was inspired by a recent Recycle Now survey, which found that 55% of households still put recyclable items in the residual waste bin.

It’s clear that improving public knowledge of what is recyclable is a crucial part of improving UK recycling rates. We also need to know how to ensure recyclable materials aren’t contaminated when they enter the waste stream. Knowledge, appetite and commitment are all key. Taking consistent individual action is not always easy, especially when we live busy lives that are already filled with daily admin and competing demands. There’s a semi-flippant comment that’s sometimes made – “we can’t recycle our way out of this climate crisis”. No, we can’t. But as one piece in a jigsaw of more sustainable habits, recycling can make a difference.

As a consumer habit, recycling has something in its favour – something that has become increasingly apparent to me while working at Cory. Although waste management has never been seen as a glamourous industry, caring about how waste is managed – and its inextricable link to ensuring a cleaner environment – is fast attracting newfound appreciation and even becoming ‘cool’. The more this appreciation for waste management spreads, the more likely people are to prioritise adopting responsible waste management practices. While I could still be better at rinsing packaging and knowing what goes in which bin, working at Cory has helped me to care more about trying to do the right thing. And I have absolutely no qualms of telling people that I work for a waste company: it’s cool.

As a major company in the UK waste sector, Cory recognises it has a big role to play in the country’s journey to managing waste as sustainably as possible. The most visible part of the business is often perceived as our energy from waste facility in Belvedere, which processes residual – or non-recyclable – waste. However, the company’s priority is to reuse and recycle materials wherever possible. One way Cory does this is by sorting and processing recyclable material. It operates Household Waste and Recycling Centres in Wandsworth and Tower Hamlets and a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Wandsworth. In 2020, the MRF separated 71,000 tonnes of dry mixed recyclables into 15 categories, including five different types of plastic, for onwards recycling.

Cory is striving to do its bit – as a business that prioritises recycling, works with policymakers and customers to increase UK recycling levels, and helps to instil responsible behaviour in its employees. With its pride and first-hand experience in the waste processing industry, Cory’s workforce can vouch for the fact that sustainable waste processing is not only necessary, but cooler than it ever has been before.