THE winner of a new award to recognise young people’s impact on environmental issues has told the Sunday National of her concerns about the environment, and encouraged more young women to consider the waste industry as a career.

Anti-waste campaigner Kate Chambers, 26, was awarded with the 2018 Young People Award at the Scottish Resources Awards in Edinburgh last week.

She was nominated for her work on Close the Loop, a circular economy innovation for the Edinburgh-based packaging company VegWare.

Close the Loop takes the compostable packaging developed by VegWare from cafes, offices and tourist sites so that they can be fully composted for agriculture and horticulture.

She said: “I was surprised to win but really pleased. Close the Loop is a good example of a circular economy process at work in Scotland that is very practical and can make a difference.

“The environment, and plastics in particular, is a huge part of young people’s agenda. Young people are very aware of the issue and are trying to change their own behaviour. Plastic has got so much media attention as it’s very visible in terms of litter and the environment and in their own lives.”

Chambers is also a successful online campaigner starring in videos for BBC’s The Social, talking about how to enjoy festivals without harming the planet and another film telling audiences “Recycling’s Pure Magic By The Way”.

“Making the BBC videos makes me quite nervous to be honest,” she said. “But they do help draw attention to issues that are important and tap into potential audiences who might not necessarily think they care about sustainability, we are trying to make it a bit more lighthearted and fun.”

Chambers said she is “very proud” to work in the waste and resources industry and highlighted the number of young women coming into the sector.

“I think that young women maybe think they don’t want to be involved with the waste purely because of the name, it makes people think of dirt, but this is really all about creating a circular economy in Scotland.

“In the past this has been quite a male dominated industry but that is changing. If you care about fashion for example and how we could make that sustainable then that’s part of the circular economy. There are some great career opportunities to do good for the planet for women.”

The awards were held as part of the Scottish Resources Conference, which 400 delegates attended in Edinburgh from across the UK, and recognise excellence in Scotland’s circular economy sector.

Iain Gulland, Zero Waste Scotland chief executive, praised the young people who had been nominated: “Young people have the biggest stake in tackling climate change and all the young entrants should be lauded for their efforts to make Scotland more sustainable.

“Kate is a fantastic example of the work that’s being done across this country to find practical solutions to serious problems and to create opportunities in the circular economy. I hope that she – and all those who have picked up awards – will be an inspiration to others to do the same.”

At the conference last week environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced that the Scottish Government is doubling its financial commitment to tackling plastic marine waste. A total of £1 million was pledged – up from the initial commitment of £500,000.