Recycling for Sustainability

Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

How can a different way of waste management bring about more sustainability?

Richard Dryburgh is Resource Efficiency Manager for environmental charity Changeworks and a member of the 2050 Climate Group, Scotland’s Youth Climate Group.

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 2013 with a degree in Politics, Richard then went on to work for Changeworks Recycling, a thriving social enterprise which provides recycling and waste management services to over 2000 Scottish businesses; they are recognised as industry leaders in doing so. Uniquely all their recycling is collected separately and thus is able to be reprocessed in the UK, supporting Scotland’s circular economy.

It is a challenge to balance the long term and short term goals within business but increasingly companies do see that sustainability is about looking about company resources, natural resources and their people.


Unique Waste Management

Changeworks collects waste separately, for example, they collect paper separately from cardboard. This is different as mostly all waste is mixed together.

In the UK, all waste management companies have been logistics company that had to adapt their business model to recycling whereas Changeworks started as a recycling business and then the waste management role was added.

Changeworks does not just collect bins or rubbish. They know that everything they collect on the recycling front has a value to it. They try to get their clients understand this and keep the quality if the recycled material high.

Changeworks collects waste and recycles it into the same materials in a high quality. The recycled material has a financial value and environmental value.


Collaborations are huge for Changeworks recycling. It generates a wider impact in Scotland and whole of UK. Richard gives 2 examples of such partnerships:

Circular Economy

Changeworks collects high-quality materials from clients and reprocesses them into the same material. So, cardboard is made into cardboard and paper is made into paper and this loop continues.

The business model of Changeworks is completely a circular economy model where the recycled products are the same as the waste products. Changeworks, in this circular process, recycles drink cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, furniture and IT, apart from paper and cardboard. They also recycle feed waste into energy and compost.

The recycled products are sold directly and also via suppliers.

Key Advice

You need to think about waste as a resource and not just waste.

Think about the energy that goes into making the product and then into disposing and recycling it. It is even better to reduce usage in the first place and ask if they really need to buy things.

Businesses should look at the waste they are producing. It may not be produced in the first place by not buying. This also saves money.

Impact on daily life

For Richard, devoting 5 – 10 hours for the 2050 climate group has been impactful. Richard is now a vegetarian, does not travel as much and has limited himself to one plane journey a year. His energy comes from renewable energy supplies.

Nature Memory

Scottish border beaches and places near beach next to nature. Waterways walk in Edinburgh and other green spaces. These places remind Richard of his childhood spent in the Scottish countryside.

Richard most admires

Colleagues in the 2050 climate group – young professionals who have taken time out of their busy lives to work towards a sustainable future for our generation.

Chris McGinnis – ex-chair of 2050 climate group for being a great leader

Favourite Resource

Green Champions training – Resource Efficient Scotland programme.

Get episodes of Sustainable: The Podcast every week in your inbox - and updates about what EarthSelf is up to in the Earth
Enter your name and email address below

We're spam free. It's processed.

Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone