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Helping WRAP be a catalyst for action in the grocery sector

Paul Wilkinson, business engagement specialist, WRAP

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BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY TO DATE

I have spent the majority of my career working in the grocery sector, initially for leading manufacturers in pet food, alcoholic drinks and home & personal care brands followed by almost 10 years with a management consultancy focused on fast moving consumer goods businesses. However, prior to joining WRAP 15 months ago, I had been working in leadership development across UK plc for a number of years, so my current role feels like I have come home.

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?

I work with a portfolio of clients including Tesco, ABF Grocery Group, Asda and Musgrave who are signatories to WRAP’s Voluntary Agreements focused on making the food and drink sector sustainable (The Courtauld Commitment 2030) and creating a circular economy for plastic packaging (The UK Plastics Pact).

My clients are all committed to taking action to deliver on their environmental, societal & governance objectives and our voluntary agreements support and guide them in doing so. This is achieved, in part, by WRAP convening collaborative action across the sector on reducing greenhouse gas emissions (becoming net zero businesses), reducing food waste (from farm to fork) improving water sustainability and reducing, recycling and reusing the plastic in packaging.

My role is to ensure WRAP are supporting our clients to make the changes necessary to address the environmental impacts of how our food and drink is made and consumed. I also get the opportunity to talk to businesses who are not yet signed up to our Voluntary Agreements and are thinking of doing so.

This can involve exploring how engaging in our voluntary agreements can help futureproof a business by helping to manage risks associated with policy and legislation changes or provide a commercial return by avoiding the costs of inaction in the areas WRAP are focused on.

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WHAT ARE THE BEST/WORST PARTS OF YOUR JOB?

The best parts of my role come from the wide variety of issues that our clients are working to address so no two days are the same and you never know what might come into your inbox. The most positive thing is knowing that, together, we are making a difference to some of the biggest challenges facing the sector and that there is a strong alignment behind doing what is necessary to benefit people and the planet. This compensates for the frustration that comes from knowing that achieving systemic change is difficult and takes time.

BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY

A typical day will be a combination of Teams meetings with client contacts and internal colleagues interspersed amongst emails (too many) and reports to be read and acted on. The breadth of the issues covered by WRAP’s voluntary agreements means there is a great deal of information to process and insight to be followed up which can be quite technical. Switching from a discussion on scope 3 emissions to front of store collection of plastics followed by approaches to support consumers to waste less of the food they buy makes for very interesting and challenging days.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?

One of the messages going into COP26 last year was that this decade is the critical one if we are to meet the climate challenge and that ‘ambition, action and accountability’ will be key to help do that. For me to play a part in helping WRAP to be a catalyst for action within the grocery sector makes me very proud indeed.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?

Living in the Lake District means that when I am not absorbed in my role, I can relax by enjoying the beauty and tranquillity of the fells and never have to do the same walk twice… if I don’t want to. With 214 ‘Wainwrights’ to be ticked off, I am spoilt for choice.


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