While Recycling Lives’ thriving commercial operations help support its social projects, in turn the ten HMP Academies and residential programme help deliver new, skilled employees for the waste management and recycling industry – either inside the Recycling Lives operation, or outside.

As a result, Recycling Lives has racked up impressive results, both in human terms and business. Recently named as a Sunday Times’ One to Watch business, its 2016/17 sales fi gures revealed a near 50% rise in sales to more than £46m.

Its sales growth included a 49% growth in international sales to £20.5m, which won the business a Queen’s Award for International Trade earlier this year.

Each of its associated charitable and social programmes also grew over the course of the previous year, while its work with off enders and subsequent impact on reducing reoff ending rates helped save the UK taxpayer £2.7m last year alone.

Perhaps most importantly, of more than 175 men and women who took part in Recycling Lives programmes since 2015, just four have reoff ended.

The business’s Social Value Report, released in February, reported that the social impact of its work – from working with homeless men and prisoners to delivering around 10,000 meals a week - equated to a £5.3m saving to society in 2016/17.

Growth of our social programmes

William Fletcher, MD of Recycling Lives, said: “We’ve developed a unique model that shows a business need not choose between commercial success or social good - we deliver both.

“Our commercial growth accelerates the growth of our social programmes as we use our operations to support and sustain the programmes and create meaningful, decent jobs for participants.

“We've proven this model regionally and are being recognised nationally, so now we’re rapidly growing our model to deliver millions more commercial and social value.”

It all began 10 years ago as the result of what some may regard as a slightly controversial idea from second generation recycler Steve Jackson, who built up his family fi rm with brother Danny. It has turned out to have been inspirational.

“We had already seen the benefi ts of working with off enders,” said Alasdair Jackson, CSR & Sustainability Director for Recycling Lives.

“We saw they were among the best workers, they were loyal, and hard-working, so there was a clear business benefi t.

“We could either invest in infrastructure and machinery - which is what any normal recycling business would do - or build a residential facility. It was controversial but not really risky..”

The family fi rm with a 40-year history used income from waste and recycling operations to lay the foundations of its social arm.

Its Food Redistribution Centre has grown to support scores of organisations and has obvious environmental benefi ts. As well as

WILLIAM FLETCHER, Managing Director of Recycling Lives

bringing an estimated £3.7m of social value since its launch, the savings it brings to groups means they can focus their spending on other elements of their care.

The HMP Academies now stretch across the Midlands and North West, with day release work opportunities for off enders preparing for a life outside of prison and, for those taking part, the chance to break the cycle of reoff ending.

Some join homeless men at the residential facility, where a six- stage programme eases them back on their feet, providing training and work placements that build confi dence and self-worth.

“Most crimes are situational,” explained Alasdair. “If you can give them fi rm foundations they are unlikely to reoff end.

Tina tells a similar story to Ian. She worked in Recycling Lives’ Academy in HMP Styal for six months of a fi ve-year sentence. On release, she took a placement with Recycling Lives and was then off ered a role in its recycling yard at Leyland.

She has now trained to be a crane driver and passed her test with full marks. Most importantly, she now has her own home and is building a happier future with her daughter.

“I love it,” she says of her new life. “I like the hurly burly of a busy yard. Recycling Lives had faith in me, trusted me and gave me the chance to be where I am today.”

To fi nd out about Recycling Lives’ Skip Hire Network, visit:


SHWM July, 2018


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