Located in Accrington, Pennine Lancashire, Prosperity Recycling was the brainchild of a group that managing director Graham Chadwick belonged to and Graham has seen it develop into an environmental, social, not-for-private-profit business providing recycled products made out of plastic, wood and cardboard.
As a result he is already responsible for reducing landfill in his local area of Hyndburn. In 2008 Prosperity Recycling diverted 1,000 tonnes from local landfill by recycling the waste into products. “We have built our business on rubbish.” That’s not the message you usually expect to hear from a managing director but Graham Chadwick is in the business of recycling.
Their trading arm develops waste plastic into quality products such as street furniture, fencing, decking and a range of play equipment including Wendy houses and sandpits. It is rot free, durable, vandalism resistant and as a result, very popular with local authorities, schools, housing associations, the Environment Agency, charities and wildlife sanctuaries.
“First and foremost we are a business,” says Graham. “That is what drives me. I want this venture to be a success and we provide quality products to our customers. We already supply more than 400 schools and Lancashire County Council. “The bonus is that we also have a training programme which means that all the profit we make goes back into the community through the training programme and not to shareholders. We have strong ethics and are self sustaining.”
Graham added: “Corporate Social Responsibility is big now and in many ways that is our unique selling point. We advise businesses about the work we do and take their waste off them for a fee. Everyone’s a winner then.”
Prosperity Recycling provides training and employment for local people. They currently employ 14 fulltime staff and provide work-based training for 25 disadvantaged adults. Many long-term unemployed and are encouraged to get back into the routine of work through a 13 week Work to Work Programme, which is run by Prosperity Recycling.
“We invest in people,” said Graham. “We could buy a piece of hi-tech machinery that would do the job rather than four people, but I would much rather encourage people back to work and provide employment in the area, whilst reducing local waste.”
The training programme sees disadvantaged adults learning to make products out of wood and cardboard such as bird and bat boxes. It is accredited by the Assessment and Qualification Alliance.
Graham set-up with a pot of funding from the Single Regeneration Budget, Lancashire Environmental Fund, Hyndburn Borough Council, European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund and the Northwest Development Agency through the Prospects Foundation and the Trinity Partnership. Prospect and Trinity are both registered charities and they formed a 50:50 partnership to create Prosperity in 2002. Graham has since bought out Trinity.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Graham though, with a background in food retail he found the manufacturing side of the business difficult to grasp. He said: “Pennine Lancashire is an area traditionally associated with manufacturing. These days most of England is known for its service industry. I want to put manufacturing back on the map. I want to make a product that sells and bring employment back without hi-tech equipment.
“We are looking to local partners to trade with us and we are in talks with Lancashire County Development to intercept waste before it goes to recycling. We want to make outdoor furniture for the people of Lancashire from waste and we would do this free of charge. They will be sitting on their own rubbish soon.”
Graham has been supported by No Limits. “They helped us out with our marketing strategy initially and then when we needed help on manufacturing we spoke to another advisor about production and costing,” said Graham. “We needed that specialist advice and because they aren’t involved in the day-to-day activity they can see the overall picture and steer us in the right direction with their expertise.”