September 24, 2021
Meet your Love Recycling Heroes: Elissa Underhill
Elissa Underhill was recently announced as one of two Glass winners of our 2021 Love Recycling heroes awards, which celebrated the inspirational individuals who are making an impact in the world of commercial recycling.
Elissa was nominated for hero status thanks to her tireless efforts to help her customers at the international distributer Lyreco to improve the sustainability and efficiency of their management processes. By implementing Elissa’s suggestions, one customer was able to recycle an additional six tonnes of waste material, that would otherwise have been sent to landfill! Through ingenuity and dedication, Elissa was able to help her customer adopt practices that meet their sustainability policy, showing that small changes to processes can result in large sustainability wins.
Following the announcement of her Glass Award hero status, we spoke to Elissa about why sustainability matters to her, her predictions for the future of commercial recycling, and her future sustainability goals:
Why does sustainability matter to you?
Elissa: Committing to sustainability is all about creating a better, safer planet and environment for everyone. Whether it’s our customers, our suppliers, or our employees, together we can all make a difference to protect the planet and make it a better, safer place for future generations. Being recognised for this commitment is vitally important, as collaboration and sharing innovations with our customers is integral to supporting those businesses and the market sectors in which they operate.
How do you incorporate sustainability in the workplace?
Elissa: In today’s world, every company is on a challenging journey to be carbon neutral, and their own clients are becoming ever more discerning when it comes to environmental accreditations. I’ve found that at Lyreco, we’re privileged to partner with a range of incredibly innovative suppliers. Whether we’re saving over 500 tonnes of waste from going into landfill or designing an innovative PPE boot made from recycled plastic bottles and ocean plastic, we are here to understand our customers and make a tangible impact within their business. We’re also partnering with incredible social enterprises, where we can quantify the amount of social value a company creates when it buys a particular category of products.
What sustainability goals do you hope to accomplish in the future?
Elissa: I’m very excited to experience the innovation we’re seeing around corporate social responsibility. As part of our circular economy pledge, Lyreco want to be the first company in the workplace with full ranges of recycle-ready items and fully re-usable or compostable packaging, to have removed single use plastics in the Lyreco offices, and to be contributing to defining the circular economy in the workplace market. Ultimately, this is your world, so let’s do it together!
What do you foresee as challenges to your sustainability goals?
Elissa: I believe that navigating the future will be a challenge for everyone, especially when it comes to businesses who are aiming to be net zero without having to offset carbon. A lot of suppliers are now focused on becoming greener, but it’s important to be aware of “green washing”, where an alternative product or solution is made to appear more eco-friendly while generating more carbon. To overcome these challenges, I believe collaboration is key. Already, in the construction industry, we are seeing stellar examples of companies sharing best practice to help each other incorporate more sustainable practices.
The award-winning Love Recycling program also provides free insights and resources that help businesses to implement effective recycling. Find out more at LoveRecycling.com.