2016 – the year of the waste entrepreneur?

2016 – the year of the waste entrepreneur?

It perhaps seems unlikely to think that anyone outside the waste and recycling profession would consider our industry as rich in entrepreneurship. But the more you read about innovation at various stages of the supply chain, the more you see just how much clever thinking is taking place for the benefit of businesses and the environment alike.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines an entrepreneur as: ‘someone who ​starts their own ​business, ​especially when this ​involves seeing a new ​opportunity’. There can therefore be no disputing that 25 year old Mostafa Hemdan from Egypt fits the bill entirely. MRW reported last week that Hemdan has founded one of the first WEEE recycling facilities in the Middle East, having watched a documentary about the process. This forward-thinking engineering student realised the potential in extracting valuable metals from electronic waste, and what started out as a venture in his parents’ garage is now a 20-strong operation selling $2.4m of WEEE per annum.

This single example showcases a number of things:

          The importance of knowledgeable waste and recycling professionals talking about the opportunities within industry, to inspire the actions of others;

          The need to spread the message to lesser developed markets, to encourage wider progress worldwide;

          Just how much wealth there is in ‘waste’, if the right resources can be harnessed by the right people at the right time.

Of course Hemdan is not alone in using foresight to reap both environmental and commercial gains. Indeed there will be hundreds of other examples, and many much closer to home in the UK.

We have been equally inspired by the work of PlasRecycle for example, a company that has also appeared in MRW recently. Located in South East London this plant is capable of processing approximately 20,000 tonnes of plastic films and bags each year – that’s the equivalent of 2.5 billion HDPE shopping bags. It was incredibly refreshing to read about such a successful plastics recycling initiative, especially given the recent turbulence that this sector has encountered. Having already invested £12m in the venture, this is clearly an organisation that means business, and one that looks set to pursue further growth.

The passion of PlasRecycle’s managing director David Brookes – a graduate polymer engineer – undoubtedly deserves great praise. Without the hard work and determination of innovative people like this, how can we expect to inspire the younger generation of talent to carve the next phase of progress for our industry?

Long may this entrepreneurship continue, and if 2016 has more success stories to tell, let’s ensure we shout about them!

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