WasteAid appoints industry veteran as chairman


Author: Jessica Stickland

Published: 19 May 2023

WasteAid, an environmental and development charity working to implement sustainable waste management and inclusive circular economy programmes across the globe has appointed a new chairman.

The UK-based non-profit organisation, has welcomed environmental entrepreneur Jonathan Straight in the role on its board of trustees.

WasteAid works with communities and policymakers in low and middle-income countries to implement waste management and recycling programmes. WasteAid’s work improves livelihoods where training and employment opportunities are often lacking, supports grassroots entrepreneurs and promotes circular economy innovation contributing to a cleaner and healthier future for all. Waste management helps address some of the world’s most pressing issues and is critical to achieving sustainable development; the organisation has most recently implemented programmes in Cameroon, Egypt, India, South Africa, The Gambia, and Vietnam.

Programmes conceived and run by WasteAid are helping to reduce climate emissions by reducing the amount of waste that is burned, creating livelihood opportunities for vulnerable communities, improving people’s health and well-being and helping keep plastics out of the world’s oceans.

Previously a trustee with WasteAid, Dr Straight has an impressive track record in the recycling industry spanning three decades across public and private sector organisations. He was a pioneer in the waste industry in the UK, establishing the country’s leading supplier of waste and recycling containers, which he headed for 21 years before exiting in 2014.

Dr Straight said: “WasteAid’s mission is very close to my heart and I’m looking forward to working with the board and the wider team to help the continued expansion of our activity. At a time when the world is facing an environmental crisis, WasteAid and its partners have a critical role to play in empowering local communities to safely manage their waste while also delivering important socioeconomic benefits at a grassroots level.”

Straight previously chaired food recyclers, The Real Junk Food Project, and was a non-executive director of Waterwise for 10 years. Today, along with his role as chairman of WasteAid, he is a trustee with several other charities, a board advisor to surplus food traders, Surplus Group Limited, and a member of the British Library Advisory Council.

Dr Straight takes over as chair of the board from Sarahjane Widdowson who has ably steered the charity through a phenomenal period of growth since 2015. Ms Widdowson will still remain on the board of trustees.

Ceris Turner-Bailes, Chief Executive, WasteAid, added: “We are delighted to welcome Jonathan as chairman and equally offer our heartfelt thanks to Sarahjane for her tireless work for the charity.
Jonathan offers a wealth of expertise in the field of recycling and his commercial knowledge and charitable work are invaluable to us. I look forward to working with him closely as WasteAid continues to develop.

“Jonathan will bring a strong governance voice to the charity as we strive to promote and share locally appropriate, evidence-based and inclusive waste management practices, supporting and empowering others to take positive action.”

Now in its ninth year, WasteAid has grown from strength to strength and has more than quadrupled in size since 2020.