The industry is changing

20th October 2014 Posted by

I will soon celebrate my 12-year stint in the ‘waste industry’, as the recycling and resource sector was once referred to.

I have done a lot of interviewing recently and was asked by one of the candidates why, after more than a decade, I was still in the waste business and working for SITA UK. The answer I gave was true and heartfelt – I enjoy my job, the people I work with and the fact that the company is going through a transformation. Looking back to the time I joined, SITA UK is now a very different organisation. It has therefore offered plenty of HR challenges.

On the long drive home after the interview I thought about the changes that the industry has gone through, never mind how SITA UK has reacted to or led those changes. To many people not involved in the business, the ‘waste industry’ must look very simple -you collect waste and then do something with some of it, but you mainly put it in a ‘hole in the ground’.

Those of us in the business can point to a number of reasons why this is so far from the truth these days. Vast changes in social attitudes towards waste, shifting (often disjointed) legislation from the EU and the UK and the development of new innovative technologies, as well as the need to protect the world’s resources going forward, are only a few reasons why the old linear business model is now obsolete in our industry.

Put all these factors together and you have an industry that is like chalk and cheese from when I first started. We do not even use the word ‘waste’ very much anymore (there should be a swear box in each office!). We now handle a resource driven by the concept of the circular economy. We create investment opportunity, innovation, green energy, growth, and most importantly, a large number of varied jobs and career opportunities in the sector that previously was occupied mainly by jobs built around a task of managing and disposing of waste.

Kevan Sproul, Human Resources Director, SITA UK

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