Business idea proves a touch of glass for law graduate Ryan
Published on 5 August 2022
Covid-19 was said to be the catalyst for the ‘Great Resignation’, with people around the world re-evaluating their relationship with work and embarking on new, more rewarding ventures.
Lockdown didn’t cause Ryan Russell to quit his successful legal career, but it did inspire him to combine it with a new business, one that combines sustainability with entrepreneurship while helping the most vulnerable in society.
Ryan, who graduated from the University with a Law degree in 2005, came up with the idea for a new glass collecting business after seeing lengthy queues form at recycling points around the city as lockdown restrictions eased.
Ryan identified a gap in the market in communities where local authorities no longer collect glass, and six months of research and intensive preparatory work followed before Doorstep Glass Recycling (DGR) was launched in December 2020. For a small monthly fee, the company collects glass waste from people’s homes and transports them to commercial recycling facilities. It was important to Ryan and his partners that DGR was based on a socially responsible basis and, as such, a percentage of profits are donated to Dundee Foodbank.
Thousands of customers across Dundee, Fife, Perth and Kinross, Aberdeenshire and Glasgow have now signed up for the service, which sees them fill a 35-litre box with glass before it is collected and recycled once a month.
Ryan says he is absolutely delighted with how the company has developed over its first 18 months and has plans for further growth in the future.
He explained, "I started running a few years ago and one of the things I love about it is the clarity of thought I get when I run. I had seen the queues at the recycling points during lockdown but the lightbulb moment came when I was out running. I started thinking that there must be potential to provide an alternative that could offer more convenience and lead to more recycling being done for a small monthly fee.
"I started looking into this and was surprised to find that there was nothing out there. I did research into the council areas that don’t have a kerbside glass collection and realised that if you could capture even a fairly small percentage of those populations, it would still make for a viable business.
"The first year was a huge learning curve for us but the business gained a lot of traction at the same time. We now have three employees who do the collections and our own vehicles but to start with we were borrowing vans and running around doing everything we could to get the business established. We have learned a lot of lessons and it’s fantastic to see how the business has grown in that time."
Ryan and the partners he brought on board to turn the idea into reality were clear from the outset that Doorstep Glass Recycling would not just promote sustainability but would also work to support other worthy causes. In addition to donating a percentage of profits, the company also offers customers a way of donating goods to the foodbank. Items are left alongside the box, and the company’s collection team uplift these at the same time before delivering them on the customer’s behalf.
"Again, it’s about convenience and making it as easy as possible for people to help," continued Ryan. "When we launched a lot of people had either lost their jobs because of Covid or were on furlough and struggling to make ends meet so we saw an opportunity to help them.
"At Christmas, we teamed up with Scott Brothers butchers in Dundee to provide and deliver Christmas meals to 1,000 people in the city, and that was something we were really proud of. The charity aspect is really important to us. We wanted to be able to make it a greener community while also feeding vulnerable members of the community at the same time. For a few pounds a month, you can benefit from our service but also do so much for your community as a collective."
Recognition of Doorstep Glass Recycling’s success came when they were named a finalist in the Young Business of the Year category at last year’s Courier Business Awards.
Despite the success of Doorstep Glass Recycling and Ryan’s enthusiasm for the project, he has no intention of giving up his legal career any time soon. He is a senior partner with Dundee-based firm MML Legal specialising in employment law and taught the subject on the University’s Diploma in Legal Practice course before stepping aside to concentrate on establishing the company. He has a strong passion for helping those treated unfairly and making a difference, something in common with his new community recycling business.
"I realised very early on that employment law was for me,” he added. "I was lucky enough to get experience working with lawyers taking on a high-profile case and it brought home to me how important it was to have people defending worker’s rights. It is all about justice and preventing discrimination and ill-treatment in the workplace. I love my job and am very lucky to be able to combine this career with a side hustle I’m so passionate about."
We are delighted to be partnering with Ryan and Doorstep Glass Recycling to offer a discount code which takes £2.50 off the price of a normal monthly collection. Doorstep Glass Recycling currently operate in Tayside, Fife, Perth and Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and Glasgow.
You can also find out more about this and other benefits and discounts for University of Dundee graduates on our benefits page.