Meet edie's 30 Under 30 class of 2019: Matt Manning, Dixons Carphone
This new series profiles the members of edie's 30 Under 30 - a nomination-based community of 30 hugely talented young sustainability and energy professionals who have already achieved great things or are showing fantastic promise. Next up: Matt Manning, compliance & recycling operations manager at Dixons Carphone.
The future of business leadership starts right here. Earlier this year, edie unveiled the inaugural members of its brand new 30 Under 30 initiative – a group of bright and ambitious rising sustainability and energy stars from across the UK.
After being nominated by their colleagues and impressing judges from Global Action Plan and the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS), this cohort of youthful visionaries now benefit from an unrivalled opportunity to connect with one another and co-develop solutions to some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges of our time.
In this weekly series, we will be sharing their stories and successes beyond the group, giving edie readers insight into the minds of those who will be leading the charge in creating the low-carbon, resource-efficient economies of the future.
This week, it's the turn of Matt Manning, compliance & recycling operations manager at consumer electronics retailer Dixons Carphone.
How I got to where I am now:
“I definitely didn’t come into this field through a standard route; when I was studying law at university, this wasn’t really on my agenda at all. But once I’d finished my course and decided that I didn’t want to be a lawyer, I took my first full-time job at Ecosurety.
“A lot of the work was around Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, which made me realise that sustainability could tie in with what I’d been doing at university. I, therefore, stayed there for the best part of five years, going out to companies and informing them about new legislation and helping them to go beyond compliance.
“In 2016, I was given the chance to move to Dixons Carphone, where I look after waste compliance for both the Currys PC World side and the Carphone side and am also involved in the physical waste management across our operations and supply chain.”
My biggest career achievement to date has been:
“Over the last year, we’ve started offering a new service when we deliver what we call ‘big-box’ items such as white goods and large TVs, whereby we take away any small electricals which customers have.
“In the past, take-back for these items is something we’ve been offering through our Currys PC World stores. But, considering that we go out to 40,000-50,000 homes every week to deliver items, we knew this would really expand the reach.
“Since launching the service, our year-on-year WEEE recycling volumes are up 375%. We collected 240 tonnes of small mixed WEEE last year and are now predicting we’ll collect 700+ tonnes in 2019.”
The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:
“The awareness piece.
“Consumer awareness is something we’ve focused a lot on in our response to waste issues, through surveys, communications and the take-back scheme. But, more broadly, most other retailers opt-out of offering take-back schemes and, in the absence of collection points, people are left questioning what to do with their used electricals.
“Through the support of my manager, Chris, I’ve had the freedom and backing to try new and innovative ideas to tackle these challenges.”
If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:
A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:
“Continuing to explore different ways we can engage with customers to increase awareness of e-waste recycling.
“We’re looking to add information about our take-back scheme to the leaflets which go out with online deliveries, for example, and to help the sector get to a point where a lot more retailers are offering take-back.
“I’ll also be doing a lot of work around Dixons Carphone’s packaging targets, which cover reduction and recyclability.”
In five years’ time, I would like to be:
“Able to say that everyone knows what to do with their old electricals when they buy new ones!
“But, specific to my career, one of Dixons Carphone’s goals is to become famous for recycling. I would certainly like to be able to look back and say we’ve got to that leadership point through our operational actions and through influencing how policy in this space is moulded.”
Outside of my career, I enjoy:
“I’m a dad to a six-month-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old and my weekends tend to revolve around them - we like being outdoors and staying active because, living in Herefordshire, so many green spaces are right on our doorstep.
“I’ve also recently started to pick up golf at my local driving range, and I play football when I can get a bit of downtime.”
My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:
“Sustainability, when done properly, should touch all areas of your business. It should be part of the day-to-day conversation, rather than a box-ticking exercise or a last-minute consideration.
“If other departments give their buy-in and fully understand what you’re doing, it’s going to be much easier to drive big changes.”
My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:
“Now is absolutely the prime time to get involved; every organisation is going to be looking at environmental considerations a lot more seriously and in-depth
“The sustainability field, therefore, is now covering such a wide scope of roles. You can choose a role which is quite technical like packaging redesign or carbon accounting or opt for something a bit broader such as consumer engagement.
“To find out which approach is right for you, I’d say it’s important to read a lot, network a lot and dedicate yourself to knowing your stuff – both within your focus area and around broader issues that influence it.”
The full Class of 2019 series can be viewed here.
To stay in the loop for 2020 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email firstname.lastname@example.org.