Launched just over a month ago, the Ecosurety Exploration Fund has been created to provide vital funding for projects tackling the negative effects of packaging, batteries and e-waste on the environment.
The fund, which has ring-fenced £1million over the next three years, will provide successful applicants with up to £150k of finance. Deadline for applications is 10 March 2020.
In order to ensure the fairest selection process possible, Ecosurety has pulled together a panel of independent judges who will work together to identify projects that can tackle some of the most pressing environmental issues around packaging, batteries and e-waste through innovation or research.
In our series of interviews, interested applicants can discover what the judges’ key demands will be - and what issues they think need to be prioritised in order to tackle the raft of challenges around waste and help the UK transition towards a more circular economy. Last month we published our first interview with Mike Barry, here we bring you our second interview with Peter Maddox.
Peter Maddox - Director of WRAP
Peter Maddox joined WRAP in 2006 and became Director in 2016. WRAP works with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency. Its mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable, resource-efficient economy by re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products, re-thinking how we use and consume products, and re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.
Peter has worked on the market development of recycled materials, built WRAP’s strategy and planning function, and managed their resource efficiency programmes for Defra. He developed WRAP’s new business strategy around a circular economy framework, and in 2015 established the Resource London partnership with the London Waste and Recycling Board. As Director, he is responsible for their work on food, textiles, plastics and recycling in the UK.
In the second of our panel interviews, Peter gives some insights into what inspires him, what he thinks a future circular economy should look like and what kind of projects he is hoping to see coming through the Ecosurety Exploration Fund.
How did you get to where you are today?
After nearly 20 years with BP working on technology and strategy roles in the Chemicals Division, I joined WRAP 12 years ago looking for a change in direction and perspective. It was certainly a shock to the system!
I started by developing markets for recycled materials (plastics, glass and paper), then had the big challenge to re-think how WRAP did strategy and business planning. A key part of this was how we worked with governments across the UK. And it grew from there to becoming a Director managing all our UK delivery work.
Name a person or project that has inspired you in your work and explain why?
Can I have two? In my early years in WRAP, I had the good fortune to have Keith James and Patrick Mahon in my team. They taught me so much about the science, policy and politics of resource efficiency and the circular economy. It was a great foundation for me, and they certainly inspired me to see the bigger picture with its competing drivers and trade-offs.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the UK resources and waste sector at the moment?
Despite good progress on several fronts in the last two years, such as Defra’s 25 year Environment Plan and the Resources and Waste Strategy, I am still concerned that the UK is missing the opportunity to grow a recycling, reprocessing, repairing and remanufacturing sector based on quality.
Export markets are closing. The public is demanding action on the environment. We need strong policy that provides long term certainty to support business investment, and we need businesses to collaborate, innovate and ultimately change their business models.
What solutions do you think need to be developed in the resources and waste economy?
I am always banging on about systems thinking. For any potential solution, whether technological or commercial, please consider the impacts on all players in the supply chain. Talk to your suppliers and customers. Do some consumer focus groups. If you don’t, it is less likely that your innovation will be accepted by the market in the long term.
What role must brands and producers play in a transition to a more circular economy?
They are crucial. Most of the environmental impact of a product is fixed at the design stage. And brands and producers know that the public – their customers – are increasingly aware of the environment. So, there’s a real opportunity to completely re-design products to make them durable, re-useable, repairable or recyclable, or better still, to move from selling a product to providing a service.
Successful businesses are those that keep their products or services in this circular economy.
Describe what a resources and waste economy of the future looks like to you?
If the whole world lived like we do in the UK, we’d need three planet earths. So I imagine a future economy where as many resources as possible - whether materials, components or products – stay in economic use for as long as possible, with minimum leakage out of the ‘circle’.
Yes, that is circularity for its own sake, recognising that this can also make a significant positive contribution to carbon reductions and other environmental indicators.
Is the transition to a more circular resources and waste economy led by Government or by business?
It is obviously both. Increasingly, governments are seeking business input to develop effective and long-term policy, but businesses are not waiting – they are already taking action to become more circular.
WRAP’s UK Plastics Pact is a great example of businesses working together to revolutionise how we design and use plastics packaging, while, at the same time, informing future waste and packaging policy being developed by governments. Of course, we must not forget consumers’ role in the circular economy. Their participation is crucial.
What sort of projects would you like to see coming through the Ecosurety Exploration Fund?
I like projects that are close to market that can potentially make an impact quickly and at scale. I also enjoy seeing transfer of technology across sectors. For example, how can developments in digital and data reduce the environmental impact or packaging, batteries or WEEE?
What do you think will be the main challenges when selecting the winning projects?
From previous times of being a judge, it is always a challenge to find the right balance between highly innovative, potentially transformational and riskier projects, and more mainstream, incremental and less risky projects. However, I tend towards the former. More critically, I am hoping that applicants will submit lots of good quality ideas and make my job difficult!
What would be your one piece of advice to Ecosurety Exploration Fund applicants?
Think about the whole economic system that your solution is tackling. And make it circular!
About the Ecosurety Exploration Fund
Over three years the Ecosurety Exploration Fund will invest £1million in projects that can reduce the environmental impact of packaging, batteries or WEEE through innovation or research in the UK. We are looking to support ideas up to £150,000 that will go on to make a bigger impact beyond the initially funded project - especially those that may ordinarily struggle to get off the ground.
Applications to the Ecosurety Exploration Fund can be made via the Ecosurety website by clicking here, where full details on eligibility and how to apply can be found.
The deadline for submissions is 11.59pm, 10 March 2020. Judging will take place on 21 April 2020 and the winners will be announced at a special event in May 2020.
If you have any questions regarding the Ecosurety Exploration Fund, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0333 4330 370.
Marketing projects specialist
Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.