Life of a Plastic Buyer

Having worked in the waste industry for many years, I had been trying to find my place. Trying to find a job I enjoyed and could really sink my teeth into; one that suited my personality and lifestyle. Ten years ago I set up my own event recycling business, and before that had worked for a waste analysis company weighing the contents of black bags. My experience meant I thought I knew it all when it came to waste and recycling, and that I had the knowledge to walk straight into my job at Let’s Recycle It and perform unencumbered.  Within a month, I realised I still had a lot to learn.  After working as a plastic buyer for a while I realised how much there is to this business, as well as how many interesting characters and capable businesspeople there are – all with their own unique approach. There were so many new processes I was unfamiliar with and so many new materials I had never heard of before being processed in the thousands of tonnes. However, I was most surprised not just by the variety of plastic materials, but by how valuable all this ‘waste’ actually is.

Having worked for Let’s Recycle It for over 6 months now, I have learned a great deal about the area I cover and each of my suppliers. I enjoy driving from client to client to make sure we are providing every service they need, and to the highest standard. While doing this, I will always keep an eye on the road to see if there are any plastic producers out there I had not yet come across whilst doing my industry research. Reaching out to a new supplier can be quite unnerving at first, but most people you deal with are happy to see you and show you around their site. I am always interested in how different people do business and the different methods people use to separate material for us. All these months in, it is still a thrill for me to arrive at a site and see a full load of grade A PP Big Bags sitting in the corner waiting for me to take them.  At this point, I should add I live in the middle of rural Wales (to give you an idea of how rural, the closest Italian restaurant is a 30-minute drive away) so it does not take much to thrill me. I try not to take up too much of their time as I understand how busy they are, but I do always appreciate a nice cup of tea or coffee – I often spend 4-5 hours in my car driving from site to site taking photos and meeting clients.  

Once I agree a deal on a load with a supplier, I get all the paperwork arranged with our incredible head office. The office will send the client their Purchase Order and then book haulage once a date is agreed. You might think my job is over at this point, but you’d be wrong.  At my very first interview, I was told we are a company that likes to attend loadings, and that is exactly what we are. I frequently visit sites to supervise the loading of trailers and containers to ensure the process runs smoothly, and to assist with any paperwork as required. It is a great sight to see the forklift drivers fill every available space with bales of plastic with absolute precision. Once the material has been loaded, it is always nice to have a discussion with the supplier about future loads, industry developments and to plan my next visit. That’s the thing about being a plastic buyer: there is always another load to recycle. I have personally already helped to facilitate the recycling of hundreds of tonnes of various plastics to be used for new products. I find life as a plastic buyer to be very rewarding, and that it is an essential role in realising our vision of creating a sustainable future.

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