Why the environment matters to me

To celebrate all things sustainability, help share tips for smarter environmental thinking and remind each other just how much our carbon impact matters, we’re inviting friends of the business and our peers in the wider industry to take part in this quickfire environmental Q&A.

Next up, it’s our customer Gareth Ward, managing director at Environmental Solutions Waste Management.

Let’s begin by learning a little more about Environmental Solutions – where do you fit into the environmental sector?

We are a specialist waste management organisation providing a range of services across the sector. We operate out of an approved BS EN 15713 secure facility in Berkshire and run a fleet of vehicles from 3.5 tonnes up to 32 tonnes.  Our range of vehicles vary so that we can provide all our services directly to clients, which ensures the highest service levels. We collect standard materials for waste disposal and recycling including card and plastics, although where we specialise is secure destruction of confidential waste streams.

And what does your role at Environmental Solutions involve?

It is very varied in nature. I’ve built a solid understanding of the industry, which I apply for the benefit of colleagues and clients alike. My role goes from investment and development through to environmental auditing, alongside internal and external training. I oversee the day-to-day running of the business and put a lot of time into growing a dynamic team around me.

What would you say is the biggest environmental threat currently facing your sector?

The materials market is volatile – it would be nice if this remained steady so we could build on it and better insentivise businesses to take on the responsibility of segregating and processing their waste streams more effectively.

Which ‘green’ innovation in your sector has the potential to create a real (even unexpected) impact?

There are some very interesting developments in the general waste sector. As we move away from physical goods, such as paper, we’re seeing a massive hike in electricity usage so that will be interesting to track in the next few years, to see how the world deals with it.

What does Environmental Solutions plan to do differently, when it comes to sustainability, in the coming year?

I would like to think we have always been ahead of the game in this area anyway. I envisage a more localised, tailored approach to the future, where we can work more closely on individual client requirements, rather than trying to devise a big corporate model that can fix everything. Whilst there will always be a place for the big player, they typically can’t keep up with the levels of service and support we want to offer – especially from a sustainability point of view. So, I see dramatic changes coming here that will benefit everyone, including our customers.

Complete the sentence – When it comes to the environment, the UK is great at recycling…

I think we have to look beyond financial incentives and be more innovative. The drive has to come from industries such as food manufacturing – they are certainly getting better but with ‘eleventy million’ different types of plastic, it doesn’t exactly make our job easy when it comes to waste management.

And where would you like to see the most environmental improvements over the next 12 months?

I would really like to see the standardisation of plastic packaging. From where I’m sitting there are simply too many different types in use – some look the same as others that can be recycled, therefore causing contamination, while some are simply not recyclable yet claim to be. We need more transparency and push back in this area.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever reused/upcycled?

Anything that we can re-use and upcycle we do. Waste disposal is so expensive and even when it comes to recycling, re-use and upcycle has to be the first port of call. With all that in mind I would say the best thing we’ve upcycled would be devices for our ‘Laptops for Learners’ project – we refurbished over 100 laptops and supplied them to local schools so that disadvantaged students had their own IT kit and could do their work at home. We had great feedback and a sense of pride from helping our local communities too.

Share 1 tip to help people be ‘greener’, at work or at home:

Make your own lunch rather than buying it in pre-packaged containers.

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