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Green Careers Week: Why encouraging the next generation of ‘Green Workers’ holds the key to meeting our net zero targets

“Don’t underestimate the possibilities or potential for personal development that are available through a Green Career.”

ENCOURAGING more young people to embark on a green career is vital for the UK to meet its 2050 net zero targets, a leading recycling association says today.


As part of a new campaign to mark Green Careers Week, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) also outlined five reasons why a career in the sector can prove to be life changing.

Green Careers Week: Why encouraging the next generation of ‘Green Workers’ holds the key to meeting our net zero targets p

The BMRA says a myriad of opportunities exist for those looking to enter the sector and that it doesn’t matter whether the person is a school leaver with minimal qualifications or a graduate with a BA, MA or even a PhD. 

Outlining why Green Careers Week is so important, James Kelly, CEO, BMRA, says:

 “Metals recycling is a vital component if the UK is to meet its climate goals by 2050. By 2050, many of those working in the sector now will be long retired whereas those at school today will be well into their careers. Like all industries, metals recycling has felt the reduction in talent pool which is why it is even more important to encourage young people into the industry.” 

Mr Kelly added that even if people don’t have the relevant qualifications, many will have skills that can be transferred into the industry: 

“Metals recycling companies have traditionally been family-run businesses, but as the industry grows, ownership models have been changing and more people are coming into the industry with skills obtained in other sectors. We also don’t want people to be put off if they don’t have qualifications. The BMRA was a key part of the team that created the Metals Recycling General Operative level 2 apprenticeship. This approach is a simple solution to plugging that talent pool gap for employers and offers young people a structured route into a green career.” 

His comments come in the wake of a recent survey commissioned by British Gas for National Apprenticeship Week. It said that three quarters of respondents are seeking careers that have a positive environmental impact.  According to the survey, on average, respondents have been considering a career which makes a difference from as early as 10 years old.

One person who has seen the positive impact of a green career is Elliot Ashton, a Weighbridge Operator at Kuusakoski Recycling. 

Elliot, 25, who came to metals recycling from another industry added: 

“Don’t underestimate the possibilities or potential for personal development that are available through a green career. What may seem like a minor position can quickly evolve and build up to be a full-blown career with the possibility to achieve a multitude of licenses, qualifications, and training.”

The Metals Recycling General Operative apprenticeship develops an apprentice’s knowledge and appreciation of a wide range of processes, site administration, risk assessment as well as legislation relating to metals recycling. They will attain the skills to operate industry-specific and generic plant and equipment, such as a forklift truck, shear and cable strippers. Safety will form a key element of their role and they can select one of five specialist routes in which to train. 

The BMRA has also offered five reasons why you may want to consider a Green Career. 

  • Help sustain the planet. Metals are 100% recyclable and avoid sending a permanent material to landfill. It prevents natural habitat from being mined, and it saves energy, reducing CO₂ emissions by up to 80%. 
  • A career for life. The metals recycling industry does not stand still. It is busy, vibrant, and hands-on. If you have passion and motivation, the pathway for you knows no bounds. With a multitude of entry-level options available to you, you will gain more experience and knowledge that can open up other roles within the sector. 
  • A job for everyone. Whether you are degree educated, or left school with minimal or no qualifications, there is a green job for you. Within metals ecycling, there is a sector-specific apprenticeship which can train on the ground operatives, even assisting them with passing their GCSEs if required. If you have a STEM degree, the metals recycling industry will need scientists and engineers. The options are vast.
  • Metals recycling touches all parts of society. Energy, construction, automotive, food and beverage, households. There will be very few things that you use, or touch, which do not contain metal that can be recycled. Even the phone you might be reading these words on. The metals recycling industry is worth £7 billion to the UK economy, so not insignificant at all!
  • Variety in your day to day. Particularly if you work on a smaller site, you may get to do a bit of everything, from weighbridge, to using the forklift, to material handler operating. You will also meet a variety of people, ensuring that no two days are the same. 

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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