A world without waste

As the UK edges ever closer to recycling more than it discards, talk increasingly turns to questions about the circular economy and zero waste. Marcus Gover spoke to Resource about how WRAP is addressing them.

For someone whose role has a focus on mitigating climate change, to start out by studying fuels and combustion seems, superficially at least, something of a contradiction, I say to Marcus Gover, WRAP’s Director of Closed Loop Economy.

“Actually at one stage I even went to Japan, to teach Toyota about engines which was actually quite a thing in those days”, recalls Gover, sounding surprised it happened and somewhat nostalgic about being in a lecture room overlooking Mount Fuji.

Indeed, he appears to have had a thing for the Far East. After obtaining a PhD from Imperial College, Gover had lengthy spells working in Asia for clients including the European Commission and the World Bank. Eventually returning to manage a water engineering company, he then went onto a role as commercial director for a renewable energy company. If you were to sum up the focus of his varied work over thirty 30, it would probably be resource efficiency.

Marcus Gover“I’d always been interested in WRAP and waste”, he says, taking time away from this year’s CIWM conference to talk to Resource. Joining WRAP in 2007, Gover started by looking after the construction and manufacturing programmes. These, he notes, have already had success – for instance, in the case of the former, agreeing a voluntary commitment to halve waste going to landfill. The key, it seems, is getting companies to understand the link between commercial and environmental interests.

“Originally, people didn’t appreciate the value or cost of waste”, Gover explains. “I remember working with one company who worked out that the cost of their waste came to 10 per cent of their turnover. The same as their profit! That was when it suddenly clicked for them... Waste is not just the thing leftover that you throw away, it’s absolutely critical to your business.”

It’s now hard to imagine a waste industry without WRAP, which is funded by all four governments across the UK and the EU. In just over a decade, WRAP has spearheaded initiatives and investments to drive the UK forward.

“I think the whole circular economy concept is what WRAP is really about”, says the organisation’s Director of Closed Loop Economy. “The other thing, which I guess goes with that is the partnership; you can’t have a circular economy withou