6 March 2020

Celebrating International Women’s Day

OPINION: To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, Emma Elston MBE, founder and chief executive of container refurbishment and repair firm, UK Container Maintenance (UKCM) – in her role as a director of the Women of the Year Awards – gives an insight into women and the waste industry.

Regardless of gender everyone needs to work together as one team, and for the inclusion of all. I believe there has been a huge positive shift in the last 20 years and I am confident this will continue to grow.

Back in 1998 when we established UKCM, there weren’t as many women in the waste and recycling industry, but over the last two decades this has changed considerably.

Emma Elston MBE, founder of UKCM

It’s extremely positive that we are seeing more women in high profile positions within the industry. The environmental sector is thriving and becoming more diverse, providing a range of different opportunities, but there is always room for improvement.


The waste industry in 2020 is a different place than it was. There is a lot more diversity now, which is important across all industries, and something we must all work towards.

Regardless of gender, you choose the right person for the job, with the skills that are needed. I believe the waste industry is already attracting more women and I’m sure this will continue.

The industry does bring its challenges, but in my experience, it has never been a gender issue.

Here at UKCM we welcome diversity and want to see the industry mirror this as it grows and develops, and we believe if members of the senior team believe in diversity & inclusion, this will be an ethos that filters through the entire company.

The UKCM team is a fantastic mixture of people and I believe that’s what makes the company so successful. We don’t choose people based on their gender, we choose our team because of their unrivalled knowledge and skills, to ensure our customers are getting the best service possible.

‘Be yourself’

Self-belief is so very important. As it, to ‘be yourself’, be true and always act with integrity. I never conform to stereotypes.

And in terms of empowering your colleagues, it is important to celebrate the people behind the scenes, giving them the confidence and support to shine. As after all, you are only as good as your team!


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