In this present competitive world, strong leadership is the key element for the success of an organization. An effective leader provides clarity of vision, motivates employees, and guides the organization to achieve its objective.
An organization may have people with unique talents and capabilities; however, it is the leadership that utilizes individual efforts towards the collective goal since he is the torchbearer for the entire team and contributes to society too.
One such influential and successful business leader is Ahmed Detta, who realized the problems of UK and came up with a solution with its innovative brand Enviroo.
Ahmed Detta is the CEO and the Founder of Enviroo with the purpose to raise recycling rates by shifting the behavioral habits of society when it comes to recycling on the go.
Enviroo is one of the most innovative recycling businesses in the UK for thinking around recycling and offering a solution to post-consumer plastic waste.
In an interview, Ahmed Detta sheds light on the company’s journey, the current industry scenario, and his vision for the company’s future.
Ahmed, please give us a brief overview of your journey as the CEO of Enviroo.
I founded Enviroo because of realizing the huge problem within the UK recycling industry after having done comparative studies in the Middle East and the EU as well as having completed the feasibility of a facility in the Middle East.
The big difference between Europe and the Middle East compared to the UK comes down to habitual recycling. We have the legislation to recycle but we’re missing the habit to recycle, especially on-the-go recycling which is where the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) comes into play.
Other countries such as Germany have DRS machines across the country so recycling when traveling is easy. In the UK we don’t have that option, so once Enviroo distributes DRS machines across the UK after a while recycling will become an on-the-go daily habit.
The plastic we collect from these machines, along with other plastics from other sources, will then go to our recycling facility. We are building the first net-zero recycling facility next year to recycle PET plastic. We know that this is a material that can be used long term and we plan on focusing on other plastics further down the line.
So, Enviroo is really the solution to the problem that the UK is facing when it comes to recycling plastic now. We’re here to provide the practical recycling element, as well as change consumer behavior and mindset about recycling.
Tell us more about Enviroo, its vision, and the key aspects of its stronghold in the sustainability and technology arenas.
Enviroo’s vision is to create a circular economy for plastic. The legislation is in place by the Government, we have the best tech in the world, we’re going live with our first facility next year and we already have the brand partners who are ready to buy the recycled material. What’s missing is the consumer buy-in to recycle and use DRS machines.
Local authorities across the UK are good at home recycling, it is the on-the-go recycling those needs fixing to enable the UK to become a fully sustainable circular economy regarding plastic. The micro-economy in the Northwest, where our first facility will be built, will be the blueprint for the rest of the UK and internationally over the coming years.
Considering the example of the COVID-19 pandemic, how do you plan to navigate through similar situations in the future?
Ask any business owner what the COVID-19 pandemic has taught them and there is no doubt that the majority will say that it’s helped them become more agile and better at planning for change. It’s also given us all more resilience and taught us that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. So, our vision will always remain the same, but we might have to be agile and make tweaks where needed to overcome certain challenges.
COVID-19 gave many organizations time to take a break, pause and revaluate their business. However, for us who deal with a material that is serving a primary basic need, to serve food and water, there was minimal disruption. There was less on-the-go litter but once society got back to a semi-kind of normal, that problem came back.
So, a lesson to be learned is that these pandemics or challenges are cyclical, and despite the hysteria, successful companies can step back and analyse the good aspects of a pandemic and bring in their backup plans.
Please elaborate more on Enviroo’s carbon offset program.
Enviroo is currently reviewing the credentials out in the industry now. Ultimately, we want to make sure that we will fully offset and be the first net-zero recycling facility. This will be managed through a combination of independent assessments and ensuring the delivery of the sustainability goals.
What efforts did you take during the pandemic to sustain operations and ensure the safety of your team at the same time?
Whilst our facility is not operational, this was a time when the company focused on looking after the mental wellbeing of staff, ensuring that the team have a good work-life balance. Hybrid working between the office and home has now become the norm and we’ve found that this work culture helps to increase employee wellbeing and efficiency. Keeping the team happy is our top priority.
What is your opinion on the necessity of industries to leverage technologies like AI and ML in developing sustainable products for the economy and managing single-use plastic waste, especially keeping in mind the ever-evolving environment emergency?
We need all the help we can get to tackle the plastic problem. This is a collaborative journey and every person and industry needs to get involved. PET plastic is a material present in everybody’s life. If you use it, you should be responsible for it.
Our tech makes it easier to recycle and no doubt AI has helped with this. We welcome continued innovation within AI to make this process more effective as well as utilizing apps to help monitor and encourage people’s behavior when it comes to recycling. The tech is important but if there is poor implementation, it is useless. So, if AI can help create these habitual behaviors this will be a game-changer.
As an established industry leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into the industry?
The recycling industry needs more entrepreneurs, no doubt. It needs people who are passionate about making change and people who are willing to think outside the box. Currently, the UK waste industry is littered with large companies who are fulfilling obligatory service contracts which means that innovation doesn’t exist.
However, newbies to the sector need to be aware of the financial viability of their project and how this can change as they create the team, secure the funding, and take the project. Also, people need to be open-minded to the different help that is out there.
Ultimately, you’re entering an industry with no innovation, and this can be demoralizing, so there’s a need to be strong-willed.
How do you envision further strengthening Enviroo’s stronghold in 2022 and beyond?
We envisage strengthening our stronghold in 2022 by sticking to our commitment to creating a circular economy and not being deterred by pandemics or the hysteria surrounding it. We remain focused on the long goal- Enviroo is a business that will be supporting the life cycle of plastic and remember that plastic will be with us for a very long time.
For 2022 we need to commence construction on our first facility and produce industry first and leading food grade polypropylene. We’re also planning to lobby and up the game for research for DRS. We will be pleased to share our research results with Lancaster University at the end of the year which will give insights into the direction as to where DRS will be successful and how we can implement that ahead of the Government announcements.
- Enviroo has won ‘Plastic Recycling Experts of the Year in England – 2022’ from the Global Advisory Experts (GAE) Awards.
- Enviroo Ltd. has been awarded Best Consumer Plastic Waste Recycling Specialists – UK in the 2021 Recycling & Waste Management Awards hosted by BUILD.
- Ahmed Detta has been featured as one of ‘The 10 Most Innovative Business Leaders to follow in 2021’ by Insights Success Magazine.
- Enviroo has been recognized as the ‘Most Progressive Circular Economy Recycling Firm 2019’ awarded by Build Magazine.
- Enviroo was cited as one of the top disruptive tech companies to watch in 2020 by Industry Wired.