Great Yarmouth-based Waste management firm Plan B Management Solutions has only been under its current leadership for four years but has taken great strides in a short space of time, leading it to be named Large Business of the Year, sponsored by FRP Advisory, at the EDP Business Awards 2023.

The business specialises in waste collection, grounds maintenance and street cleansing and works with local authorities and private sector clients in all aspects of their environmental services.

It was formed in 2006 as an environmental consultancy business and managing director Maz Akhtar and materials director Craig Cutajar took over in 2019 with plans to diversify.

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Alongside consultancy, the business began branching out into material management and frontline service delivery for local councils.

“The growth that we’ve achieved in four years has made us a very different business,” said Craig. “Now, we’re able to tender for larger contracts. We don’t just rely on supporting the client in delivering the services, we can actually deliver them ourselves.”

Plan B now looks after 260,000 tonnes of material a year for various local authority clients and has grown a team of 21 staff, with 120 more set to join the business in April as part of its first local authority waste collection contract, which will see the business handle about 110,000 household collections a week.

One of the challenges presented in such a large industry is that there is no uniform approach, with different councils operating their environmental services in different ways. But, Craig explained, that’s where Plan B’s expertise comes in.

“We help organisations understand what the different options are at a strategic level, because those options will dictate how frequently waste is collected, the containers you may need, the type of materials you can collect, the amount of people you need on the ground, the amount and the type of trucks you need, and all the costs that go with all of this.”

Eastern Daily Press: Plan B was presented with an International Green Apple Gold Award at the Houses of Parliament in 2023Plan B was presented with an International Green Apple Gold Award at the Houses of Parliament in 2023 (Image: The Green Organisation)

Environmental compliance is also a huge part of waste management. Craig said that having a reliable team that works to understand the industry and clients’ needs in and out is key.

“We’re very much focused on the idea of ‘we’ll tell you what the issues are, we’ll work with you on them and if you want us to help you fix them, we can do that as well’,” he said.

Plan B also believes in supporting the communities that it operates in and makes regular food bank donations in these areas.

“In our last financial year, we delivered 55,870 items against a target of 40,000,” said Craig. “Since we started making these commitments, we’ve donated nearly 125,000 items!”

Craig said it was a conscious decision to base Plan B in Great Yarmouth so it could support the growth of the town by offering employment opportunities and apprenticeships. It has already taken on three apprentices with plans to hire more.

For a proud Norfolk business like Plan B, being named Large Business of the Year at the EDP Business Awards 2023 was “brilliant”, said Craig, and the process gave the team a chance to reflect on how far the business has come since 2019.

“It was an opportunity for Maz and myself to really reflect on the last four years – where we’ve come from, where we are now and where we’re headed.”

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Craig explained that winning the award has also helped to raise awareness of the business locally and it’s provided a huge morale boost for the team in Great Yarmouth.

“There is an overwhelming feeling of pride throughout the team,” he said.

In addition to being named Norfolk’s Large Business of the Year, Plan B was also shortlisted for a silver award for UK Employer of the Year (2-49 people) at the Investors in People Awards in 2023. And members of the team attended the Houses of Parliament last year to collect an International Green Apple Gold award in recognition of Plan B’s efforts to promote best practice.

“We have also been invited to accept Green World Ambassador status and have our winning paper published in The Green Book – a leading international work of reference on environmental best practice – so that others around the world can follow our lead and learn from our achievement,” added Craig.

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