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Plymouth recycling firm teaches young offenders to do it the right way.

Providing training opportunities for young ex-offenders in a bid to reduce any temptation to re-offend.


GROWING: Chasing Paper's director Rob Kelly, office manager Anita Baigent and MD Lee Duke – Plymouth Herald
A PLYMOUTH recycling enterprise is already eyeing expansion just months after starting up.

Chasing Paper only began operations in the autumn but it already has more than 100 business clients and is starting a kerbside collecting scheme in Roborough and Woolwell.

The brainchild of managing director Lee Duke, who spent three years making the project a reality, Chasing Paper already recycles about three tonnes of waste a day.

This includes a range of materials, including wooden pallets, cardboard, paper, plastic film, metal and non-hazardous electronics, all of which are collected for free.

Cardboard is turned into a biomass fuel briquette, while pallets are broken into kindling wood, with charities benefiting from the sale of the items.

For a fee, confidential data can be destroyed, too.

"It reduces the amount that goes to landfill," said director Rob Kelly. "And by providing a free service we are cutting the costs for business."

But while it is based on recycling, the business is primarily a training organisation.

It has already taken on five apprentices, with more likely to join them.

And it has an agreement with Devon and Cornwall Probation, providing training opportunities for young ex-offenders in a bid to reduce any temptation to re-offend.

The youngsters learn manual handling, health and safety, and control of hazardous substances, among other useful work-based skills, backed by help with basic maths and English, for instance, all building self-respect and confidence.

The 12-week programme is assessed by the South West Regional Assessment Centre.

"We are predominantly a training company, using recycling as a tool to train the youngsters," Mr Kelly said. "We are trying to show that hard work is more rewarding than a life of crime."

Mr Duke added: "We are also trying to create the next generation of recyclers.

"We want people to lead by example."

Chasing Paper is based in a 8,000sq ft unit at Belliver, fitted with equipment including a shredder, bailer and briquette machine. It employs 11 people in addition to its apprentices.

Mr Duke got the idea when he worked for a Plymouth area retail distribution company.

He became interested in recycling and ways of reducing fuel poverty for vulnerable people such as the elderly.

"What drove me forward was : How do I help these people?" he said.

He also stressed the nation's recycling rates need to hit 70 per cent by 2020. Currently they are at about 56 per cent.

Mr Duke underwent training and found funding from private sources.

And he already has big plans for Chasing Paper.

"We are hoping to increase to 30 staff, including trainees, apprentices and probation service people, in Plymouth, and have hubs in Exeter and Cornwall," Mr Duke said.

Ultimately, he sees the business spinning off Chasing Paper franchises.

"What we have achieved could be replicated around the country," he said.

"And we could create little hubs around Plymouth. Trainees could do the collections and we could provide them with a team."

Mr Duke is already moving forward and launching the Paper League Challenge, a community-based project to provide funding for Plymouth schools.

The scheme, starting in Roborough and Woolwell, involves collecting newspapers, magazines, telephone directories, leaflets and cardboard from kerbsides each Saturday.

A donation from the proceeds will then be given to schools in the area.

"It's a pilot," Mr Kelly said. "Everything we collect, we will pay a small percentage back to a school each quarter."

For information about the scheme email info@chasingpaper.co.uk.


Full story can be found here