Insider insight: Sticking it out when policymakers are against you demonstrates you’ll be an asset in the long term

Marine plastics is at the top of everyone’s agenda but more focus on the waste hierarchy is needed, says Amy Slack senior project manager within Eunomia’s waste operations team

Amy Slack
Amy Slack, senior project manager at Eunomia

What does your current role involve?
My work involves taking projects from bid to delivery, including designing project methodology for bids, developing teams, giving briefings, liaising with clients to ensure we’re meeting their needs, and presenting project outcomes.

How did you land your current role?
Following my masters degree in Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies, I came back to Waverley Borough Council to work within the waste management team and helped roll out a new service design for the area. I developed expertise in both waste and procurement, which led me to apply to Eunomia as a junior consultant.

Do you have any tips for people about to embark in your field on how to make a success out of their careers?
Volunteer. Working in the environmental sector is tough and challenges your commitment and your ideals every day.  Showing that you care enough to stick it out when public opinion, funding and governments are sometimes against you demonstrates that you’ll be an asset in the long term.

What has changed in the sector since you first began your job?
The most momentous change during my time in the environmental sector has been the huge increase in public and political interest in our work. When I first started out in waste management it was a niche, technical area with little outside interest. With the airing of Blue Planet 2 everything has changed – public awareness around waste issues, as well as consumerism and waste as a resource, has gone through the roof. It’s incredibly exciting to see where this wave of support will take us, and what change it will bring.

What does the future have in store for your industry?
Marine plastics is at the top of everyone’s agenda at the moment and it will be the focus of the next few years of campaigns, policies and reports, which will hopefully turn into real actionable change on a global scale.

We’re very aware of recycling, but I would like to see a future where we’re focused further up the waste hierarchy, focusing more on reducing the waste we produce and incorporating reuse into our lives though innovations by manufactures and waste operators alike.

What is the most unusual piece of work you’ve had to undertake?
In 2017 I took a five-month sabbatical to run a project for NGO Marine Conservation Philippines. It was unlike anything else I’ve ever done. I led a project organising volunteers for beach cleans to collect data for grassroots organisations to use. I spent six weeks gathering data first hand, trying to inspire the volunteers, but the most challenging aspect by far was working with the local authorities. Aside from the language barrier, trying to change the opinions of politicians and the public and attempting to educate people on the issues of marine plastics was difficult and depressing work. The entire project gave me a whole new perception of the marine pollution problem and gave me a real desire to try and do something positive – not necessarily to change the world, but to do something to push it along the way.

What is your favourite piece of environmental policy and why?
It’s a relatively old and uninteresting piece of legislation but the Landfill Tax is, in my opinion, one of the greatest contributors to the UK’s recycling success.

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