Vanden Recycling’s mission is to make it easy for plastic waste to be transformed into valuable commodities, right across the globe. With over 20 years’ experience in plastic recycling, David Wilson has been Managing Director at Vanden for nearly 7 years. He is the next PlastikCity Partner to face the HotSeat…
What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Vanden Recycling respond?
There is clearly a lot of pressure on scrap plastic export, especially to Asia. This is from all angles ranging from the China de-facto ban through to import restrictions into other non-China Asia destinations and press articles here at home. UK plastics recycling must respond to that. The obvious solution is simply to build more reprocessing infrastructure here but when you get into the detail that’s where the questions lie. Build more infrastructure for what materials? What export competition will that plant face by the time it’s commissioned? The world is moving very rapidly now and by the time new plants are built they could find themselves out of market position. For ourselves, we’re making decisions based on material infeed where we have long term supply established and secure downstream markets.
How has Vanden Recycling developed during your tenure?
It’s grown. From being a single person agency offshoot of Vanden Global (our parent company based in Hong Kong) it’s become a company with growing recycling infrastructure, 38 staff in 3 locations in the UK and scrap buyers throughout the UK. The biggest transition though has been moving from a business that depended entirely on its parent company for market access to one where we have our own sales staff and relationships with plastic manufacturers throughout the UK and Europe. Some of these include fully circular recycling processes which is incredibly satisfying.
What do you credit as the key to your success?
Multiple points. Constant support, guidance and input from our parent company; a relentless drive to explore and diversify into new markets; our incredible staff’s dedication and loyalty, even in the face of the toughest of circumstances; deep relationships with customers and suppliers. We’ve had a strong guiding principle through our time as well and that’s take responsibility for our own actions. That’s why, wherever possible, we buy directly from suppliers of scrap and sell raw materials directly to manufactures of finished product. When a problem arises we understand why and can fix it. If you buy and sell through a distribution network you lose knowledge and the ability to make a better company.
What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
Probably right now. As I’ve already mentioned we’re seeing the world change in this industry at an unprecedented pace. We need to plot a course through that with an obscure vision of the world we’re planning for.
What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry and does that differ from the advice you would give to an Apprentice joining now?
Be bolder in ambition and action.
What hidden talents do you have?
I make a very good wholemeal loaf.