News: Global #RecyclingHeroes 2020

When recycling is the cause, heroes come in many forms: From young people picking up litter while jogging (‘plogging’) in Nigeria; to school pupils making a brilliant rap video in County Cork (watch One Small Change below); via social influencers creating ‘Recycled Play Stations’ in India; or a firm diverting mattresses from landill, in Blackburn, Lancashire.

On Wednesday 18 March 2020, the third annual Global Recycling Day took place, with individuals, businesses, cities and organisations marking the day with events and activities on social media, in their homes, and in their local communities. Plenty of businesses and individuals also supported the day online. Early calculations show that #RecyclingHeroes and #GlobalRecyclingDay reached over 237 million people on social media alone. 

Nick Oettinger, Founder of the The Furniture Recycling Group UK

Blackburn-based Nick Oettinger and his company The Furniture Recycling Group have now been announced as one of 10 global winners in the 2020 Global Recycling Day #RecyclingHeroes competition.  The Furniture Recycling Group researches and develops groundbreaking systems to make the recycling of mattresses more viable and efficient. Nick and his team have won $1,000 to put towards their projects.  

Mattress recycling is a pressing concern in the UK, with 67,000 tonnes of mattresses sent to landfill every year. By separating mattresses out into 19 component parts that can be recycled and fed back into the economy as new materials, the Furniture Recycling Group is helping to tackle this problem. This project diverts 400,000 mattresses away from landfill each year, and has recycled more than 1.5 million since its launch.

Launched in February 2020, the #RecyclingHeroes competition encouraged people from across the globe to nominate individuals, business or communities that set examples and push boundaries with their recycling initiatives.  The competition received over 2,000 nominations.   

For 2020, the 10 #RecyclingHeroes Competition winners worldwide are:  

Plogging Club – Nigeria  

A movement inspiring young people across Nigerian campuses to take action for the climate through exercise that combines jogging with picking up litter and recyclables;

Reform Africa – Uganda  

Transforms plastic waste into sustainable, waterproof and durable bags, employing youths to collect the plastic waste, and single mothers who wash and tailor the products;

U-Recycle – Nigeria  

A youth-led non-profit organisation working to promote a circular economy in Nigeria through reinforcing a sustainable recycling culture, plus investing time and resources into educating schools and communities about the value of recycling;

Zizo Ezi Foundation – South Africa  

A non-profit organisation that operates in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, working with school children in rural areas to teach them about the benefits, as well as the ‘dos and don’ts’ of a clean eco future;

Anuya Trivedi, Founder of Green Buddies – India  

An organisation that creates eco-designed, cost effective ‘Recycled Play Stations’ for children, made out of tyres and other reusable scraps.  

Aribe Bajwa, Founder of Youth Social Ambassadors – Pakistan  

A youth-based organisation working towards community empowerment, focusing specifically on environmental causes, including planting over 300,000 trees, plus providing training and awareness sessions on conservation;

madebyTREID – Philippines  

Fashion brand and social enterprise madebyTREID extends the life of old clothes and uniforms to reduce environmental waste by transforming them into higher-value products such as multifunctional, fashionable shoes and bags, while also providing job opportunities to disadvantaged people;

Ecolana – Mexico  

A social impact company focused on inclusive recycling practices in Mexico, providing a digital platform with a recycling guide (a map and a waste-materials dictionary), as well as helping consumer brands to develop their own recycling programmes.  

Cappabue National School – Ireland  

This small school in Cork is raising awareness of climate change with their viral rap video One Small Change a response to polluted beaches in Co Cork.  

Nick Oettinger, MD and Founder of The Furniture Recycling Group – UK  

The Furniture Recycling Group is helping to tackle the UK’s mattress landfill problem, diverting 400,000 mattresses away from landfills each year. The company has recycled more than 1.5m mattresses since launching, and is continually investing in research to make recycling mattresses more viable and more efficient.  

The Global Recycling Foundation supports the promotion of recycling, and the recycling industry, across the world in order to showcase its vital role in preserving the future of the planet. It will promote Global Recycling Day as well as other educational programmes, awareness projects and innovation initiatives which focus on the sustainable and inclusive development of recycling.   


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