Now, several decades on, she shoulders many senior responsibilities in a metals recycling industry that, to outsiders, can appear overwhelmingly run by men. The latest is a place on the board of the Global Recycling Foundation (GRF).
Indeed, as GRF marks International Women’s Day on 8 March, Susie is an obvious role model for #BreakingTheBias. As the official website proclaims: “Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”
Susie is the fourth generation of her family but first woman to head a metal recycling company, having established her Recycled Products Limited in 2001. Since then, this pioneer has taken on an increasingly wide range of responsibilities globally.
In 2014, she was the first woman to join the board of the 100-year-old British Metals Recycling Association and was subsequently elected President in 2016, a position she still holds. Since 2016, she has been the elected President of EUROMETREC, the non-ferrous branch of the European Recycling Industries Confederation based in Brussels. For more than the last three years she has been an Ambassador for the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) and a board member of BIR’s Non-Ferrous Metals Division. Last Autumn she was appointed a Patron of the Bureau of Middle East Recycling, the first and only woman to hold this position, followed by her new role with GRF.
Susie Burrage says, “I am very proud of all my achievements especially the glass ceilings I have broken, but some of my proudest moments are when female colleagues from around the world have said I inspire them.”
“I have been an ambassador and supporter of GRF since its inception. I am a strong advocate for positive recycling messages being spread far and wide, so I was delighted when Ranjit Baxi, founding president of GRF, asked me to join the board.”
“As custodians of planet earth, we all have a duty to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Everyday recyclers play their part in helping to reduce CO2 emissions. They rescue essential raw materials by collecting, sorting, and processing our discarded waste. Be it metals, textiles, rubber, plastic, glass or paper or a combination there is a recycler with a solution.”
In the US, another prominent female figure in the sector, Robin Wiener, President at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, said of her appointment: “I am very excited to see that Susie Burrage has been added to the board of the Global Recycling Foundation. Not only does she bring a record of leadership and expertise to the foundation, but she is also an important role model for young girls everywhere who are looking for ways to make a difference.”
One such young woman, Natallia Zholud, the general delegate and also board member of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division from Eastern Europe, says: “I really missed having a female role model to look up to and turn for advice in the early years of my career. It’s very complicated to start in our highly competitive male-dominated industry. Since I joined BIR, Susie has been a great example for me, both as a leader and as a friendly mentor. An industry professional with a record as solid as hers, coupled with a desire to make the world a better place by promoting recycling, is a powerful force – and a very inspirational story for all the women in the recycling industry.”