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Celebrating ladies in scrap: Susie Burrage

Industries around the globe celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March. This is a great opportunity for the recycling sector to shine a spotlight on its female entrepreneurs with UK-based Susie Burrage being a well-known example.

As a child, Burrage soaked up the noisy and challenging atmosphere of her family’s scrap yards. Now, several decades on, she shoulders many senior responsibilities in the metals recycling industry. Most recently, she joined the board of the Global Recycling Foundation, which launched Global Recycling Day (18 March) in a bid to boost awareness of recycling worldwide.

Breaking the bias

As the fourth generation at her family business, she had the honour of becoming the first woman to head a metal recycling company, having established her Recycled Products Limited in 2001. Next, she was the first woman to join the board of the 100-year-old British Metals Recycling Association in 2014. She was subsequently elected president in 2016, a position she still holds.

Since then, Burrage has been the elected president of EUROMETREC, the non-ferrous branch of the European Recycling Industries Confederation based in Brussels. For more than the last three years she has been an Ambassador for the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) and a board member of BIR’s Non-Ferrous Metals Division.

Last Autumn she was appointed a patron of the Bureau of Middle East Recycling, the first and only woman to hold this position. All in all, this makes her an excellent role model for #BreakingTheBias, a social media campaign challenging the stereotypical viewpoint that recycling is purely a man’s world.  

Making an impact

‘I am very proud of all my achievements – especially the glass ceilings I have broken,’ says Burrage. ‘But some of my proudest moments are when female colleagues from around the world have said I inspire them.’

One of these is Natallia Zholud, a general delegate and also board member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division from Eastern Europe. She says: ‘I really missed having a female role model to look up to and turn for advice in the early years of my career. It’s complicated to start in our highly competitive male-dominated industry. Since I joined BIR, Susie has been a great example for me, both as a leader and as a friendly mentor.’

And she adds: ‘An industry professional with a record as solid as hers, coupled with a desire to make the world a better place by promoting recycling, is a powerful force – and a very inspirational story for all the women in the recycling industry.’

This sentiment is shared by Robin Wiener, president at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. ‘I am very excited to see that Susie Burrage has been added to the board of the Global Recycling Foundation. Not only does she bring a record of leadership and expertise to the foundation, but she is also an important role model for young girls everywhere who are looking for ways to make a difference.’

Did you know we are running a series on ‘women in recycling’ this year? Do you know anyone who qualifies at your company or elsewhere, then do please reach out via [email protected] — They may be included in one of our upcoming stories.

Would you like to share any interesting developments or article ideas with us? Don't hesitate to contact us.

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