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    A model for sustainable business engagement

    Middlesex University Centre for Environmental and Safety Management for Business and Wastepack Group Ltd devise innovative partnership.

    Middlesex University’s Centre for Environment and Safety Management for Business (CESMB) and waste management entrepreneur The Wastepack Group Ltd have been praised for the quality and impact of their business partnership and for the good practice it is helping to encourage within the environmental sector.

    The report, ‘Successful Business Engagement’, has just been published by City University Enterprises, and showed that common interests and shared values were key factors in developing this partnership into a longer-term relationship and business engagement model. The report examined how a single business, The Wastepack Group, influenced and was influenced by a single higher-education provider, Middlesex University, in ways that were mutually beneficial.

    The partnership began in 2004, when Wastepack, a leading UK supplier of recycling services, was looking for a unique educational provision and support which would have significant impact and real value within the environmental business sector. “We wanted to do something with, and for, the sector as a whole”, Chief Executive and founder of Wastepack, Barry van Danzig said, adding, “there is quite a lot of training already available in the industry, but this tends to be short courses focused on compliance – doing things because you have to. We wanted people to think about what else they could do, to raise the bar a little and get people interested in this as an important part of their roles as managers”.

    Middlesex University’s Centre for Environment and Safety Management for Business (CESMB) responded to this challenge by designing the Work Based Learning Certificate in Recycling for Sustainability, taking input and advice from an Advisory Board drawn from industry stakeholders  such as the Institute of Civil Engineers, the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee, Envirowise and WRAP.

    The report illustrated that Middlesex University’s Work Based Learning approach to the programme was very responsive and adaptable. Paul Clapham of Envirowise and formerly of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM) said: “What really impressed me was how the staff at Middlesex responded, they really wanted to hear our comments...we were made to feel that everything we said really mattered to the project and to the development of learning materials”.

    The programme was accredited by the CIWM and is delivered as a postgraduate level course. Aimed at managers and supervisors working in organisations which generate waste, participants can enrol on the programme at any time and on average, take between 9-12 months to complete the workbooks.

    To date, over 200 organisations from a wide spectrum of UK industry have engaged in the learning programme, including clients in the care sector, construction industry and retail businesses. City University Enterprises’ report revealed that for both students and employers, the programme had significant benefits, from gaining a higher education qualification and additional career development, to achieving greater confidence in managing waste and recycling services.

    The report concludes that the partnership is succeeding in developing both immediate and longer term benefits for the sector – it produces well-trained recycling managers and also provides the means for wider behavioural change within organisations.  In embarking on the partnership, Nick Parker, Chairman of Wastepack, said: “To change the waste industry, we need better informed customers who are able to ask relevant and challenging questions of their contractors...Better educated customers are able to demand a more responsive waste industry”.

    Leah Corr, Head of Strategy and Development for CESMB, commented on effective knowledge transfer and development of industry expertise achieved through the partnership. She said: “We’re delighted to hear that our joint work around the Certificate has gained such recognition in this report. Our initial work with Wastepack and colleagues in the environmental business sector has provided a firm foundation for a unique partnership. It is very satisfying to see the good practice we promote through the Certificate being adopted and acted on in a wide range of organisations. We continue to review the programme content, adapting the syllabus where necessary to reflect and incorporate changes in regulations and to ensure our students gain the tools and knowledge they need to develop good practice in their organisations”.

    Shared values and aims, including a flexible and collaborative approach to education design and delivery and an effective model of knowledge transfer helped Middlesex University and Wastepack Group deliver a highly successful and innovative partnership.

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