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Anglo Recyling: business at the heart of community

Anglo Recycling is a textiles recycling business that sees value in providing dignified employment, developing responsibly made products and investing in the community.

JUBILEE CENTRE AUTOR 193/Charlee_New 22 DE AGOSTO DE 2022 09:39 h
Anglo Recycling is a textiles recycling business. / [link]Anglo Recycling twitter[/link]

In the foothills of the Pennines, you can find a textiles recycling mill with a long history, innovative products and a strong social and environmental mission.

Based in Whitworth, Lancashire, Anglo Recycling is a textiles recycling business that proves that purpose-driven business isn’t just for the service industries.

As we discovered in our 21st Century Pioneers research report, manufacturing can sit at the heart of a community, and this local factory champions the local cause.

With a long history in the area (their textiles mill was built in 1851!), the business has gone through several phases and owners to become what it is today.

With a ‘two-step’ process, Anglo Recycling (formerly Anglo Felt) takes in carpet offcuts and old clothing, and recycles and processes them into fibre ready for manufacturing.

They use this recycled material to make a range of new products, including carpet underlay, mats for commercial herb growers and biodegradable wrappers for tree saplings.

Their unusual, recycled product is popular in the market; locally they employ 40 members of staff and turnover £3.5 million annually.

The business is run by owner Simon Macaulay, who purchased the factory in 1998.

‘When members of my family heard I wanted to buy the business, they all advised me not to do it,’ says Simon, ‘They thought it was a bad move, and that there was no future in textiles. At the time, China was taking off and manufacturing had moved out of Lancashire. The local area used to have 23 mills, and ours was the only one left. But I went ahead and purchased it anyway.’

The factory he purchased was operational, but the work culture among staff wasn’t good. Retention was poor and there was a ‘bad vibe’ on the factory floor.

At that time, Simon wasn’t a Christian; however, he became a Christian through an Alpha Course. He wanted to change the atmosphere at work and invited a chaplain to visit the mill weekly.

He also revised the company charter to put ‘truth’ first and committed to tell the truth to staff, suppliers and customers.

Simon still sees every new employee personally at induction to explain their ‘truth’ value, and believes it has had a significant impact in changing culture, building trust and improving staff retention.

In 2008, they made a key commercial decision to incorporate recycling into their manufacturing process. Anglo Felt became Anglo Recycling, in a move that benefitted the environment, whilst also making their products more popular and distinctive.

It reflects the belief that a successful business should minimise waste by default; it’s not just the right things to do, it also makes good commercial sense.

This attitude has filtered into other areas of the manufacturing process, with innovative ‘inverters’ fitted to the factory’s machinery which cut their energy use by 40%.

However, in all of this, Simon is clear that he sees Anglo Recycling’s core purpose as the investment it makes in people and the value it provides to employees, their families and the local community.

80% of the factory’s workforce live within a mile of the factory, and the business has stepped up to meet local needs.

For example, when the local youth club closed, Anglo Recycling took it on and formed a charity. They also run the local flood forum that meets twice a year.

‘I think it’s just what you do in a working-class place like Whitworth,’ says Simon. ‘There aren’t many leaders here because it’s seen as a dead end—but there’s more of a community here than when we lived in Manchester with everyone behind locked gates.’ 

Anglo Recycling see the value in providing good, dignified employment, developing responsibly made products and using their influence as a local employer to invest in their local community.

They demonstrate the varied ways that a purpose-driven business can have a social impact.

Charlee New, the Jubilee Centre’s Storytelling Lead & part of its ‘Church & Enterprise’ research team.

This article was first published on the website of the Jubilee Centre and re-published with permission.




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