Obituary, Bill Thorne – ‘lifelong waste paper man’

The waste paper sector has lost a ‘legendary figure’ with the passing of Bill Thorne, former colleagues have said.

Mr Thorne died on 4 May after a period of poor health. Graeme Coombs, of Pulp Friction Ltd, has supplied this Obituary note.

“Bill was a true lifelong waste paper man, starting as a drivers’ mate with Alexander Jacob in East London in 1964. Various takeovers saw him working for Philip Mills, Thames Waste Paper Group, Davidsons and BPB Recycling.

He became a class 1 HGV driver, and after a serious accident when a bale fell on him at a Safeways depot, moved into management as Transport Manager, Assistant Depot Manager and Depot Manager.

Bill Thorne, pictured when he worked for TGM Environmental

He left the ‘mill-owned sector’ for the Independent fraternity in 1997 when BPB closed their Bow, East London Depot. He joined Danny Stephens and Graeme Coombs at AW Lawson as Operations Manager and soon joined the Board as a Director.

AW Lawson was sold to A & J Bull Group, which soon became part of SITA (UK), but in 2005, former A & J Bull owner Terry Mills unveiled his own plans and started TGM Environmental Group in Charlton, where Bill joined as Operations Director.

He was probably one of the most knowledgeable persons in the recovered paper industry, especially when it came to grading of waste paper, always looking to ‘buy low’ and to upgrade material to its most valuable price for his employers.

He did not suffer fools gladly, but was a genuine friend to all in the industry, which Bill saw as a family, although there are several Mill Buyers, still working today, who often found themselves paying far more than they had intended after a round of negotiation, often accompanied by quite a few pints of Guinness!

His knowledge of and respect from the competition, the colourful individuals, the Mills and the customers was legendary.  His impeccable work ethic was to be able to do any job in any given depot, from sweeping up, to operating the baler, driving a hook lift or roll-on-off truck to creating the depot budget and managing the HR.

Bill passed away on Wednesday 4th May after a period of poor health. He will be missed by many former colleagues, and is survived by his wife Jeanette and his children – Susan, Joanne and Barry – and grandchildren.”


The funeral service is at 1pm on Thursday 19th May at City of London Crematorium and the wake in Bill’s memory is at Mary Green Manor, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4NR.

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