Donna Ahern talks to Irish entrepreneur, businessman, Newstalk host and former Dragons’ Den dragon BOBBY KERR about his role as brand ambassador for Repak Team Green.
Can you tell me about your role as brand ambassador for Repak Team Green?
I’ve been there since the start – 2018. I knew Repak well, as I used to work with them a lot around packaging in my days in Insomnia, so I’ve been on the Repak journey for a number of years.
My role as a Team Green leader is to help drive awareness of the Team Green initiative, to encourage the public to join.
When people join Repak Team Green, they are not only pledging to do their part to protect the environment, they can also learn some useful tips on how to recycle better.
I’ve learned that myself – keep everything loose, keep it dry, and make sure it is clean. Now that we are all spending a lot of time working from home, I think you have to be organised with everything around recycling. I’m lucky, as I live within walking distance of a recycling centre in Dun Laoghaire.
I go down almost every day with the small bits that I have. I live with four girls. They tend to buy a lot of stuff online, so there’s a load of packaging coming into the house.
One of the things we’ve noticed about the pandemic is the increase in packaging from Amazon and other suppliers. I find the amount of PPE gear that you see on the street or on the footpath really disappointing.
Tell me about the Team Green initiative.
If you look at the figures over the last two years, recycling rates are up and contamination rates are down. That, I suppose, is the main focus of the programme, and that means it is a success.
In terms of tonnage, it has increased by 1.9% – that is about 57,000 tonnes. If you want to put that in some sort of recognisable form, it is enough to completely cover the Aviva Stadium 20 times.
To reach Ireland’s future packaging recycling targets under the EU’s Circular Economy Package, the public will need to continue their improved recycling behaviours. So, what can we do to become better recyclers at home, to ensure that Ireland continues to be a packaging recycling leader in Europe? Every single recyclable item must go into the bin clean, dry and loose. They are the three things for people to remember. If you do that, you get into a habit of recycling. You build up the habit and you never go back. The public should educate themselves on what should go into each bin and what shouldn’t. That is all available on Repak.ie.
How can people join the Repak Team Green?
It’s very easy – just go onto Repak.ie/Team-Green and click the ‘Join Team Green’ button on the web page. It takes about two minutes.
So, how are you coping with your workload during the pandemic?
I am glad that I’m not on the front line of retail at the moment. I’m busy with lots of other stuff. I’m on the radio, and I’m on a couple of boards – I work with the Cliffs of Moher and the Great Lighthouses of Ireland – which has kept me occupied. I’m delighted to be busy, but I’m concerned about what I see, particularly out there in the retail landscape.
Do you broadcast your Down to Business show for Newstalk remotely?
I go in every week, as I think it is easier to go in – things can go wrong when you are working remotely. I go in every Saturday – it’s great.
It’s the only journey I make every week. My car sits in the driveway from one end of the week to the other, and I bring it out once a week, to go to Newstalk.
Looking ahead to 2021, what advice would you give to retail businesses to ensure that they are Brexit ready?
I think businesses have learned a lot about Brexit from COVID-19, and a lot of businesses had to re-enact their Brexit plans around COVID-19, so at least we got some sort of experience around it.
I think the main thing businesses can do is have a diverse cohort of customers. Ensure that all your customers aren’t in the one place or from the one sector.
If you work hard on building up a portfolio, when one goes down, at least you’ll have the others there to allow you to keep the lights on. It is about not having all your eggs in one basket.
What was the standout moment of your time on Dragons’ Den?
Giving Roscommon man Adrian Keegan €10,000 for his ‘handbag light’, after he rejected Gavin Duffy and Seán Gallagher.
Looking back at your time as a dragon, is there any successful product on the market now in which you regret not investing?
Not really. My investment in the Hangout – a clothesline with a cover – didn’t survive, but it could have evolved into another product.
For anyone looking to make a business proposal to attract an investor, what is the best piece of advice that you can offer them?
Be honest, be yourself, and be memorable.
© 2021 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Donna Ahern. Click sign up to subscribe to Checkout.