With engineering and manufacturing at its heart, since its very beginnings in the 1970s, the plastic reprocessing industry has always been known as a male-dominated industry. However, the gender tide is turning, particularly at the West Yorkshire recycling firm, Bright Green Plastics, which now boasts a higher proportion of female operations, materials and compliance team members on its diverse leadership team than males, with eight out of the 13 members being women.
Steve Spencer, Managing Director at Bright Green Plastics, which employs over 130 people at its Castleford site, comments: “We don’t employ people for their gender, we take them on for their talent and skills. Everyone on our management team, male and female, is at the top of their game.”
Spencer continues: “We’re aware the industry is male dominated, and this is something that needs to be addressed by all UK waste and recycling businesses. Plastic reprocessing is growing exponentially, and it’s calling out for strong female leaders in engineering, operations, and technical developments to enable the UK to continue to spearhead this growth.
Courtney Scaife, Site Coordinator, and Jayne Graham, Head of Compliance, agree change is needed. Graham explains: “Professional training courses I have completed previously, such as confined spaces, IPAF, chainsaw and radiation supervising, have been very male dominated, sometimes to the point where I am the only woman, yet people do not always realise my capabilities and understanding of equipment and machinery. I would say that my role is actually made easier by being a female, as I bring an empathetic view to issues and concerns on site.”
Scaife adds: “In my previous role within the industrial recruitment industry, despite possessing complete knowledge, It took quite some time for the predominantly male workforce to see my capabilities and have trust in me. It’s important to be confident and not see yourself as vulnerable or any different from anyone else who works in that environment.”
The eight females on the management team are Nicola Taylor, Head of Operations UK, Emma Gray, Head of Supply Chain, Jayne Graham, Head of Compliance, Stacey Wood, Operations Planning Manager, Courtney Scaife, Site Coordinator, Mira Kromp, Quality Engineer, Holly Turner, Materials Planner and Magdalena Blumert, Head of Operations Europe, who is also the first woman at Bright Green Plastics to hold a forklift licence.
Spencer describes Bright Green Plastic’s approach: “As a company, it’s important for us to have a culture of balance and equality across all our teams. We work hard to support the talented females in our business, so they feel confident that they can thrive and deliver their best work with the backing of the overall company, from senior management through to the site workers.”
Head of Operations Europe, Magdalena Blumert elaborates: “Bright Green Plastics has a good working atmosphere based on respect and tolerance”. Nicola Taylor, Head of Operation in the UK, who’s been with the business for over 20 years, adds: “The support throughout my career has been fantastic, both personally and professionally. I still learn something new every day.”
Material Planner, Holly Turner, who studied MChem Chemistry with Industrial Experience at the University of Bradford, shares with her top tips for women wanting to be successful in STEM and other male-dominated industries: “Don’t hold back or bite your tongue through fear of being seen as ‘bossy’, play to your strengths – know your stuff, and then some more, and ensure that your voice is heard… if you have things to say, don’t let your valuable input be overshadowed by someone who happens to be louder than you.”
Mira Kromp, Quality Engineer at the firm, concludes: “I would say, to any woman, not to feel intimidated by the fact this is a male-dominated industry. The times are changing, and everyone is more and more aware of the value women bring to the business.”