Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Jonathan Davies, Marston’s

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: Jonathan Davies, waste & recycling co-ordinator at Marston's.

Meet edie’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Jonathan Davies, Marston’s

Jonathan has played a key role in several of Marston's biggest sustainability initiatives

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 Jonathan Davies, who has been the waste & recycling co-ordinator at pub chain and brewer Marston’s for three years. 

How I got to where I am now:

“I always had a passion for geography at school, which led to me taking environmental science as my undergraduate degree. I then had the opportunity to take a post-graduate course focusing on carbon management in higher education, which enabled me to take a full carbon footprint of the university’s direct and indirect emissions before identifying target areas where the university could be doing more to reduce its impact.

“After that, it was by luck that I ended up at Marston’s. My wife got a job in Birmingham and, as we were moving here, the job came up. It was originally advertised as a waste and recycling coordinator, but since I joined, it’s definitely developed into more of a wider environmental co-ordination role; I get involved quite a lot on the energy management and the water management side of things in addition to waste.”

My biggest career achievement to date has been:

 “I see my biggest achievement overall as helping Marston’s achieve our zero-waste-to-landfill goal, because that was a culmination of two years of work.

“First, we had to get our recycling rates across our 1,100 pubs and six breweries to a respectable, industry-leading position and then, we had to work with all of our waste contractors to map where all of our general waste goes, before moving to contractors who practice diverting 100% from landfill.”

The biggest challenge I have encountered along the way is:

“Changing behaviours.

“If we think about where we want to go – limiting global warming to 1.5C – then a lot of the low-hanging fruit has already been picked. Changes made so far, like switching to LED lighting, are typically those which won’t have much of an impact on peoples’ way of life. But we’re coming to a stage now where the projects we undertake are going to have to involve a complete change in culture, both within organisations and in private life. 

“I think electric vehicle (EV) chargers are an example of this – we’re beginning to ask how people will be planning their days and routes around their lifestyles and access to infrastructure.

“It’s also been a challenge to get to a place where organisations, when making choices around environmental sustainability more broadly, are beginning to ask ‘is this the right thing to do?’ before asking ‘is this what will get us a very good and very rapid return on investment?’.”  

If I had to describe my generation in one word or phrase, I would say:


A successful 2019-20 for me looks like:

“Our EV chargepoint installation scheme with Engenie is probably the biggest project I’m undertaking this year; I’m managing it internally and I’d say it takes up at least 30% of my time.

“The goal for us is to make sure we’re an early mover in helping to make the transition to a low-carbon world, and I think that transport has definitely lagged behind other areas of the economy in this journey.

“Another big focus for me is getting to grips with plastics. We’ve already made quite good steps in terms of engaging with suppliers, which has enabled us to phase out plastics here and there, but I’ve got a bigger project coming and will be working with other companies in the hospitality sector to help map all our plastics use.

“This will involve looking at the lifecycle impact, rather than whether we should just switch to cardboard or a different kind of plastic straight away; we need to know what changes will mean for the waste contractors, whether the new items will be littered and more about their carbon impact.”

In five years’ time, I would like to be:

“Still making a positive and significant difference in helping my company to reduce its environmental impact, hopefully still at Marston’s.”

Outside of my career, I enjoy:

“Anything that takes me outside – I do a lot of cycling and running. We’re quite lucky with where we are, on the edge of the West Midland metropolis, in that there are good places to do this, or to go hiking.”

My ‘Mission Possible’ message for business is:

“Firstly, look at sustainability as an opportunity, and not a risk.

“Secondly, remember that every company has a role to play, no matter what sector they’re in and regardless of whether they are an SME or a big corporation.

“Lastly, it’s no longer enough to be compliant anymore. You have to be industry-leading to keep up with the pack nowadays and businesses that fail to do this won’t be around in 20 or 30 years.”

My key piece of advice for any young professionals entering my industry today is:

“Don’t be afraid to try new or innovative things. Be open to them and remember that trial and error is part of the process.

“Also, keep developing and building your own knowledge base. Knowledge is power in my role – the more I know, the better.”

The full Class of 2019 series can be viewed here.

To stay in the loop for 2020 nominations for the 30 Under 30, email [email protected].

edie staff


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