Case study: Martin - Plastic recycling

I am the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Relic Plastic which is a recycling company that takes plastic waste that has little to no value and makes high-quality, handmade products that will stand the test of time.

As we are only a small team, my role includes a variety of tasks such as liaising with clients and managing workshop production – plastic supply, colours, stock level, meeting orders and deadlines, mixing colours for products (‘colour alchemy’), computer-aided design work, and machine maintenance. I also deliver our workshops for groups interested in what we do. And then there is the general admin – end of year accounts, general accounting, sales, company filings etc.

My qualifications

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Earth and Environmental Science (BSc). I became aware of the global ‘Precious Plastic’ movement – and was inspired to set something up locally. I saw the potential of the tangibility of recycling which is very lost in our globalised system. I was able to make up my first role in Precious Plastic Lancashire! And I was able to develop that further with founding Relic Plastic. Using our all-under-one-roof recycling system, we can show that a circular economy is possible.

I think I am very good at using my initiative, solving problems and am self-motivated. I have always found that I am calm and collected when under pressure plus I have an engineering way of thinking. I enjoy the fun of the challenge. I am good at communicating, but I may be too nice when negotiating with clients and don’t stand my ground as much as I should!

What is important to me

It is important to me that there is a clear purpose for the work we do which is education and seeing the bigger picture. We are doing this to encourage people to value plastic and get them talking about the circular economy. I do like to see an immediate effect of waste being made into a new product – a tangible product. The long-term change to how people think and behave is also important.

What I enjoy most about my role is seeing the reactions of people who attend our workshops and their enthusiasm about the recycling process we show. I love creating new colours and effects – colour alchemy! I like being able to shape the work and direction of a small team but have to balance this with the challenges of running a small company.

I like working for a social enterprise where I share the values of the organisation. I think if I worked in a larger organisation, I would need to share the values of the department I was in – and it may be possible to influence these from the inside. I also think it is relevant where an organisation gets it money from – our funding comes from a trust and a university – and also where it invests it, and where it banks.

The only things I might have done differently in my career would be better business planning – although I am happy with our organic growth.

My career principles

I will… strive to educate on the circular economy

I will not… encourage a linear economy

The most important things to me in my career are… educating others

My advice is to…

Even if the role is not that ethical you can shape it to be that – everyone has an influence.

Meet the people who are behind the organisation to get the vibe of the organisation – you can quickly tell if they are on the same ethical wavelength.

SGR, Globally Responsible Careers 2021