Another year over, but already looking forward to next season…

Peter Maddox

As I settled down to watch the Man City vs Tottenham Champions League match the other night, where Tottenham started the match one-nil up on aggregate, I began to think about what it is like to start a match with an advantage. 

Certainly, in the year since I took the role of Director of WRAP UK, a new business unit within WRAP which brought together our government-focused and business-focused programmes, it occurred to me how much the play is in our favour. Mind you, it'd be hard to argue my year was quite as exciting as that match.

While Brexit seems to have absorbed much of the outside world, it hasn't derailed us or our partners from our cause. Our business partners in the food, clothing, packaging and resource management worlds are as focused as we are on improving the environment.

In fact, one of our flagship achievements of the past year - the UK Plastics Pact – was only launched a year ago, yet now has over 100 members, including all the big UK grocery chains as well as some major global brands.  They have committed to make all their packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable, as well as eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic, by 2025. Through this voluntary agreement, they will be able to get well ahead of the game as government legislation is being developed. What tremendous teammates to have!  

The conditions of play are also favourable for us to win, too. We have seen a huge and growing public appetite for environmental change - the Blue Planet effect. People are changing their own habits by consciously reducing their use of plastic and cutting down on food waste, and they are concerned about fast fashion too.  They are looking to those in power to take action that will generate real change.

Politicians are responding to this public clamour, and an energetic and engaged Defra Secretary of State, Michael Gove has produced several wide-ranging, headline-grabbing, long-term environmental policies, one of which was the Resources and Waste Strategy. 

I have been delighted that our reputation for getting results continues to open doors to the highest echelons of government, business and other organisations. And I’m pleased to say that WRAP staff and their research provided a significant share of the evidence underlying Defra’s new Strategy. 

Our unique style of play puts us in a great position. A key factor behind our previous wins in different leagues (stay with me here...) is our ability to bring key players together to achieve change. We have engaged with more people about recycling than ever through an amazing Recycle Week 2018. With leading businesses and charities, we are remorselessly reducing the carbon and water footprint of clothing sold in the UK.  And we won the inaugural global ‘State-of-the-Art Partnership of the Year Award’ for our Courtauld Commitment 2025 campaign (a bit like winning the cup). This is far from an exhaustive list of what we have achieved over the past year, but hopefully indicates the broad range of our activities. 

And, of course, I am privileged to manage an excellent team at WRAP UK. There is a blend of talent across the pitch, bringing together planning, research and engagement skills, underpinned with a real desire to make a difference – to create a world that uses resources sustainably. We know our strengths and we play to them, and it's a credit to everyone in WRAP UK that our focus remains sharp, ignoring inevitable distractions in such a high-profile area. 

As I said, we know we cannot do it on our own, so working with others is critical to our success. I know that WRAP's partners have always appreciated our collaborative approach bringing not only us, but those we work with, up the leaderboard.

What’s clear is that we work on issues that are extremely important to people. You only have to look at the recent protests in London to see that sustainability matters.  WRAP is an organisation that punches above its weight and increasingly we are taking our approach to the European and even the global stage.  None of this could be achieved without the talent, hard work and commitment of our people, and it is vital we don't take our eye off the ball as we set out to achieve our goals for the coming year.

Barcelona in the final, anyone?