Spotlight feature — Paul Rendle-Barnes
Our director of recycling, Paul Rendle-Barnes, was recently put into the spotlight by Cheshire Business Magazine — discussing his career success so far as well as all things waste and recycling.
If you missed the original article on p24, you can catch up below:
1. Please tell us about your business (location, history, sector, size of company etc) Indigo Environmental Ltd is a North-West-based plastic recycling firm – with plants in Cheshire and Shropshire. With over 40 years’ combined experience in the environmental, waste and plastic recycling sector, we started the company in 2017, and our ongoing expansion since then means we now have close to 40 team members spanning the two sites. Sustainability and the circular economy are both deeply important to Indigo, and we – together with our partners – pride ourselves on leading the way in innovative plastic recycling solutions, which not only help businesses to close the loop, but also reduce carbon emissions and utilise waste as a resource.
2. What is your role within the company?
I am Indigo’s director of recycling and as part of the senior management team, I am also responsible for the engineering and compliance areas of the business, along with managing some of the commercial waste plastic supply for our food sector partners.
3. What is the biggest challenge to your business / sector right now?
It’s the same challenges that the industry has been faced with for many years – the quality of incoming waste plastics and the need to harness the potential of local, North-West-based solutions to onshore our waste, or more appropriately termed, resource. In recent years, we’ve seen many countries across Asia close their borders to plastic waste imports from the UK due to the high volumes being sent there illegally, and that, coupled with the Plastic Packaging Tax due to come into force in April 2022, will continue to see manufacturers taking more steps to ensure their operations champion sustainability and transform society’s current ‘throwaway’ mindset. In truth, there will be lots of exciting opportunities that arise from the tax implementation next year – which will charge organisations £200 per tonne of all plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. It will arguably help our country to boost its recycling infrastructure, push forward with uniform collection practices across the UK’s local authorities, reduce reliance on exports, and cut down on the number of resources being sent to landfill.
The North West has a history of innovation, and we are pleased to continue to be part of that long tradition.
4. Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions have had a huge impact on businesses across all sectors, both positively and negatively. How has the current climate affected your business?
Throughout the lockdown period, our industry was granted key worker status from the Government, so for us it has remained business as usual – with increased cleaning and hygiene protocols put in place to keep our staff, suppliers, and customers safe, and help to maintain our operations. While at the start of the pandemic, some plastic partner supply sectors – such as our automotive clients – slowed due to supplier shutdowns, the food industry ramped up its operations, to help combat panic-buying, so there’s hasn’t really been a ‘quiet’ period. We are incredibly proud of the work the team has achieved, and we have continued to invest in the business throughout the various lockdowns.
5. What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Every day is different and presents new opportunities. The fast-paced world of technology developments and legislation are rapidly driving change forward in our sector. Additionally, we are now seeing the general public becoming more aware of the damage we humans are inflicting on our only planet and what we, as a society, need to do to effect change – being a part of realising that change is very rewarding.
If we reflect and think that the first plastics made from fossil fuel are just over a century old, us humans are now looking at the mess we have made of the planet in that time. The fault lies not with the plastic itself, but with us as human beings – namely our intervention both by littering and poor disposal choices. Being a part of the solution to help us pave a more sustainable route into our future is a great source of pride for myself and the Indigo team.
6. Who or what has been your greatest influence?
My grandfather is one person who has always been a big influence throughout my life. He was a war veteran who built a successful business based on hard work and belief in himself – he taught me resilience and that if I wanted something, I had to put in consistent hard work to make it happen. His values are very much a part of who I am today, but I have never been sure about his love of sugar and English mustard butties…
7. What is the best piece of business / career advice you have received?
That on day one of your business venture, you need to have your exit strategy clearly mapped out. This is vital for enabling you to organise your future and make the right decisions for the business to achieve your goals.
8. Where do you believe are the biggest opportunities to your business at the present time? The 2022 Plastic Packaging Tax has already begun to drive change for companies affected, and we have some unique opportunities in the pipeline – seeing us partnering with some forward-thinking, like-minded organisations, which place plastic packaging on to the market through retailing products.
9. How do you feel Brexit will impact your business / industry?
Like many other businesses, we have seen some disruption when trying to ship our finished products to clients – but nothing too drastic – and longer term, we anticipate things will return to a normal level.
10. What is your greatest success? both professionally and personally?
In a professional capacity, it must be embarking on the exciting business venture of setting up Indigo, with like-minded individuals who want to help the UK to take greater control and harness the resource potential of its plastic ‘waste’. Then personally, it is having such a wonderful, loving family – whom I am super proud of. We are all close and that is incredibly important to me.
11. Tell us about your most memorable moment in your career.
There have been many memorable moments throughout my 20-year tenure within the industry, but one of the most bizarre ones was when we were in Ukraine.
We were about to fly back home from Donetsk when we were searched by armed military police – trying to convince them that the bags of white powder we had were recycled plastic regrinds for making recycled plastic roof tiles, was interesting to say the least!
12. How do you keep your staff motivated?
I believe it is vital to involve all members of the team in the decision-making process, and that daily communication and support is crucial for them to feel valued by their employer. Also, I feel the fact that all the senior leadership team contribute to the business lineside goes a long way in not only showing our staff we care about the company but them too.
13. If you could have a 1:1 with anyone past or present who would it be and why?
Jacques Cousteau. With many strings to his bow, he was an explorer, inventor, filmmaker, and conservationist, and his studies of marine life during the late twentieth century were the early forms of conservation – explaining why protecting the oceans’ sea creatures matters. That, and his red beanie is simply iconic!
14. What is the secret to your success?
Work hard but always remember to enjoy the important things in life such as walking in the sunshine, jumping in the ocean, spending time with those you love the most, and being kind to yourself and others. Life is short, and there is no time for regrets.
15. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what would you have chosen instead?
A breeder of large, endangered-breed horses – I have always found them to be fascinating animals.
16. If you could offer one piece of advice to the upcoming generation of managers and CEO’s what would it be?
Firstly, that you will only fail if you quit. Secondly, Baz Luhrmann’s song, ‘Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen’ holds lots of valuable advice and meaningful life lessons for all human beings in general – regardless of whether they are managers or not. I highly recommend giving it a listen if you have not already, or again if you have!