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Are you ready to become a cover model?

We’re used to seeing rich entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and famous Hollywood stars on the cover of magazines. I’m glad to say the media landscape has been evolving in recent years.

What of Lubomila Jordanova? She’s the ceo of Plan A, a start-up launched in 2017 to help companies map out and realise circular operations. Her face graces the new issue of Forbes magazine in Bulgaria. In the cover story, she details how ‘greentech’ solutions coupled with big data and artificial intelligence systems have the power to create a carbon neutral society without waste.

It’s a hopeful narrative that builds on the raw potential many of us in the recycling industry have experienced first-hand. One that prompted the Obama Foundation to name her a ‘Leader for Europe for 2022’, alongside 30 other innovative individuals representing many different countries.

‘When starting the business, I was quite naive, yet idealistic in believing that if we have the data and the science we should be able to use it to make things right for our planet, economy and society,’ Jordanova says. ‘Five years down the line, Plan A has been able to shape how thousands of businesses think about sustainability and decarbonisation while building a team of 100+ across the globe.’

Such exposure isn’t wholly surprising in the wake of several documentaries and bestsellers on the topics of recycling, the circular economy and sustainable design. And let’s not forget Global Recycling Day, inaugurated in 2018 and now celebrated across the world on 18 March.  

And yet, media coverage about recycling-related themes isn’t always favourable – not by a long shot. There are many doom and gloom stories about illicit waste management schemes, corruption, metal theft and the dangers of working in scrap.

If you think about it for longer than three seconds, you’ll admit there is more to the global recycling industry than a couple of quotable headlines. The question is: what do people remember? And how much do they actually read/watch?

Bad news is usually so much more exciting, coming to us in bite-sized bursts, accompanied by a tonne of photos and audio commentary. Ideal for sharing and commenting without exercising much critical thinking.

I’m not denying that there are common practices and bad practices besides best practices – but it’s hard to keep a clear overview when faced with a mountain of information.

The bad stories tend to stick, don’t they? I think it’s time to grab the microphone, pass it around, and make sure the good ones do, too.

After all, in a world full of people screaming for attention, we have to be our own cheerleaders. I hope recyclers, engineers and other industry stakeholders can put their humility aside and get comfortable being more vocal.

There’s so much noise out there. Let’s drown it out with something worth saying.

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