As Liz Goodwin says farewell to WRAP after 15 years, she looks back at her time as one of the best decisions of her life…
Food-wasteThis is it. After 15 years, 9 as CEO – I bid a fond farewell to WRAP – my baby. Joining was one of the best decisions of my life. Whereas leaving is the hardest decision, because I believe hand on heart that it is the best organisation in the world. It can deliver so much positive change, not just at home, but increasingly on an international stage.
It’s something that I hear wherever I go – including recently at the United Nations conference in Nairobi, and the Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen. I get blown away with the comments. “You have the practical solutions, Liz; you’re not airy fairy like some others.” As one senior figure put it to me.
And it is this practical difference that I’m most proud of. Before WRAP, I worked as a chemist at ICI. A good job, yes – a good company, sure – doing good work, undoubtedly. But my head was turned when my nephew Jack was born. There before me was this fragile baby with his whole life ahead of him. I may cherish my OBE for services to business resource efficiency, but being asked to be Jack’s Godmother was phenomenal. And it changed my outlook on life – I knew from that moment I wanted to do something different in my work life, to make a real difference, to help leave a positive legacy for him and all future generations. To achieve something more than a private company could ever allow me to do.
It’s all too easy to forget that 10 years ago we had no idea of the scale of food wasted in the UK. In 2007 that all changed with WRAP’s ground-breaking report ‘The Food we Waste’
This led me to WRAP, where I joined a year into its life – I was employee number 40. As a company we’ve grown exponentially since then on a journey from recycling to waste prevention, to resource efficiency through to product sustainability and now sustainable lifestyles. Where our remit has changed, the ingredients to our success have not, because at the heart of all our work is evidence, behaviour change, and actions.
As you may imagine, now that I am leaving I’m often asked what I’m most proud of in terms of the impacts WRAP has made. It’s so hard to narrow down, but if I had to choose just one it would be our work to reduce food waste.
It’s all too easy to forget that 10 years ago we had no idea of the scale of food wasted in the UK. In 2007 that all changed with WRAP’s ground-breaking report ‘The Food we Waste’. It showed us what, where and why food was wasted in UK homes. Since that time we have been on a huge journey, where the issues of food waste have been brought firmly to the nation’s attention, culminating in a 21% reduction in food wasted over a five year period.
Reducing food waste is an opportunity to benefit the environment, economy and society as a whole, not just in the UK. And just as the challenges of food waste are not confined to borders, neither are the opportunities. Which is why WRAP is increasing its work to help reduce food waste internationally, and why I have decided to focus my efforts on helping this aim by joining the World Resources Institute (WRI) as Senior Fellow and Director, Food Loss and Waste.
I have been so impressed by the work of the WRI, in particular in its Champions initiative to mobilise action to help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 to halve food waste.
Tackling the priority resource areas can only be done together, it takes a team effort, which has been the recipe for success at WRAP. The UK has a wealth of expertise in skills to help create a resource efficient society, and many of those are at WRAP. I am just employee number 40 of the hundreds past and present who have contributed to the great work. We are a team, but also must remember that we all can make a difference as individuals. I believe WRAP is a national treasure – one that needs protecting if we are to maximise our chances of creating the world I wanted for Jack, the world we all want for future generations.
Today WRAP is in good health both financially and strategically – one year into an important 5-year plan. There will be many challenges ahead: we still need to convince more people – governments, businesses, individuals – of the benefits of the resource efficiency agenda. The resource industry with WRAP taking a central role can achieve this, and in Marcus Gover, WRAP has the right CEO to lead this challenge.
We must never forget how far we have come, but also how much we still need to if we are to create a world where resources are used suatainably.