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Ranking the best, boldest, most refreshing recycling pioneers

You may have heard we’ve created a Top 100 of the most innovative recycling entrepreneurs and companies. This was definitely a fun project – though narrowing the list down to just a hundred names wasn’t easy. The global arena of this industry is so dynamic, innovative – and full of surprises.

The worldwide recycling industry is worth around US$ 55 billion (EUR 46.5 billion) per year, with the plastics recycling sector alone exceeding US$ 25 billion (EUR 21.1 billion). I’m happy to see the positive momentum is translating into strong year-on-year growth. And yet, if you’ve been in the industry as long as I have, you know that money isn’t everything. That’s why it was a natural decision not to base our ‘best of’ ranking purely on financial results.

So who’s on our list? A total of thirty-four metal recycling experts, twenty-one plastic scrap champions, seventeen e-scrap recycling leaders, as well as four businesses taking on the car battery recycling challenge, plus a ship recycler, a rare earth metals recycler, and an aircraft recycler… to name a few!

Besides, I’m proud to report that 18 of these ventures are operated and founded by women, who are determined to close the gender gap in the scrap sector with fresh ideas and tonnes of confidence. Would you have thought that one of them started a company dedicated to recycling chewing gum?

Our Top 100, which covers a total of 36 pages, also consists of visionaries, authors, designers and what I guess you could call recycling ‘rebels’ – those who dare go against the norm, who speak out on difficult topics and aren’t afraid of discussion causing a little controversy. As a journalist, I love it when people are so passionate about their work; when it becomes a personal battle that they won’t give up on because it’s too much trouble. Real innovation, real change is not convenient. Our ranking reflects that mindset.   

I want to point out that this all-in mindset can be observed all around the world. The Top 100 represents people from no less than thirty two countries. The most represented countries are: USA (16), UK (14), the Netherlands (17) and Belgium (7). I’d like to share some notable mentions: India (5), France (5) Germany (4), and the UAE (5). Our ranking also features two pioneers from South Africa, and one from Russia, Greece, Thailand, Latvia, Togo, Rwanda, Kenya and Somalia.

Curious to read the complete Top 100 for yourself? Keep your eye on the upcoming issue of Recycling International!

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