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Recycling champion George Wood follows his own paper trail

An award-winning recycling champion from Kings Heath, Birmingham, got to see exactly what happens to all the paper he collects when he visited the Smurfit Kappa SSK paper mill in nearby Nechells.

George Wood, who studies at Sparkhill Adult Education Centre, Birmingham, recently won the Recycling in the Home category at Birmingham’s first Recycling Awards for his dedication to collecting paper for recycling.

Following his award presentation, Smurfit Kappa Recycling arranged for George to visit the Smurfit Kappa SSK paper mill where Birmingham’s paper and cardboard is delivered for recycling. There he saw the material collected by Birmingham City Council’s collection crews being pulped, dried and rolled into large rolls of new brown paper which are taken away to be made into cardboard boxes.

"Seeing how paper is recycled was fantastic and George is even more excited and enthusiastic about recycling paper now," said Patricia Wood, George’s mother. "He took a small bag of paper to the mill and brought home some recycled paper that he is now using for his drawing."

Simon Weston, managing director of Smurfit Kappa Recycling said: "It was a pleasure to be able to show George what happens to the paper he diligently collects every day. I understand he is now even more enthusiastic about recycling than he was before, if that is possible!"

Twenty-six year-old George was nominated for a Birmingham Recycling Award by his tutor at Sparkhill Adult Education Centre, Mariel Bishop. She described George as "a man who likes to be busy" and explained how recycling has been his hobby since a young age. George collects anything made of paper – newspapers, magazines, calendars – and spends his spare time cutting them up and putting them into bags which his mother puts out for Birmingham City Council’s recycling service to collect each fortnight. She added: "In his own quiet way I think George is definitely one of Birmingham’s recycling heroes."

George was presented with his award at a ceremony in the Council House a month ago, alongside other members of the public, local businesses, schools and community groups who were recognised for their work in reducing, re-using and recycling. The awards were hosted by TV and radio presenter Elliott Webb.

Cllr James McKay, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for a Green Safe and Smart City, said: "The Recycling Awards capture our pride in the fantastic work that goes on in our communities. They are the city’s way of celebrating the actions of those who play a role in protecting the environment and contributing to the green agenda."

Celebrating its 150th year anniversary this year, the Smurfit Kappa SSK Paper Mill plays a vital role in providing local employment as well as reducing the city’s carbon footprint. Almost 40,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard (recycled by Birmingham’s residents in their Birmingham City Council kerbside collection boxes or in Smurfit Kappa Recycling paper banks) is taken to the Paper Mill every year.

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