Paula van Hoorik


8 September 2022


4 minuten

A day in the life of...Paula van Hoorik: Circular Economy Officer

Ambitious professionals work at Milgro who work on our sustainable mission every day. What does it mean to work for a purpose organization? And how does this mission find its way into everyday life? We asked several colleagues to describe a day at Milgro.

Today it is Paula van Hoorik's turn. She is a Circular Economy Officer (CEO) at Milgro and uses her expertise to guide our clients, whom we call disposers, in the transition to a new economy through sustainable raw materials management.

Start of the day

Today I started the working day with an early walk. Whether I'm working from home or at the office, whether it's beautiful spring weather or just a bit of rain, I think that's a wonderful way to start the day.

Yesterday I was early in the car, on my way to Groningen for consultation with a client, whom we call the disposer. Halfway through the route to the north of our country, my manager Piet gets in. On the way there we go through the final preparations for the meeting. On the journey back we use the time to catch up. In between, a disposer calls, who was in the middle of an audit during which some additional questions arose. The auditor was very pleased with our process, which is always nice to hear. In addition to discussing the conversation with our disposer, the conversation quickly ends up in a current report from the media about the circular economy. Talking material that makes the long journey from Rotterdam to Groningen productive, enjoyable and inspiring. 


Weekly teammeeting

Today I start my day at our office in the Tollensfabriek, where our team meets weekly for our CEO team meeting. It's nice to see and talk to each other at a fixed time of the week, now that we work in a hybrid manner as an organisation. After the team meeting, I walk to the kitchen with my colleague Irma for a cup of coffee. We make an appointment to work at our main location on Pittsburgh Street on Friday. A good excuse to end the working week with a Friday afternoon drink.

Varied work

My working week as a Circular Economy Officer is varied. Yesterday I was out all day to visit a disposer, today I immerse myself in writing reports. I start with a substantive waste management report, which I make together with one of our Waste Engineers. In addition, there are additional agreements and/or projects for most of our disposers that I include in the report. One result of such a project is, for example, a higher separation percentage of waste streams. The way in which we achieve this is different for every client.

Our goal is ecologically and economically responsible use of our natural resources. That is the common thread of the improvements we work on for clients. A first step is to prevent waste from being incinerated. Did you know that Milgro reduces on average 40% residual waste for its clients? In addition, there are still more steps to be taken towards circular business operations. Think, for example, of (internal) reuse of materials, reducing waste or making other purchasing choices that lead to less waste further down the chain.


Expertise within a client portfolio

My client portfolio consists of disposers from the 'industry'. In addition to optimizations in the field of reducing unsorted waste and the higher-quality processing of (hazardous) waste flows, we often see points for attention in the field of safety and compliance among disposers in this sector. Fifty different waste streams are no exception in factories and many of them have specific requirements, for example from legislation, that we have to take into account. These specific requirements make it a challenge to find solutions that also work pleasantly and practically in the workplace.

Providing insight into avoidable waste

On a day like today, when I spend a lot of time behind my laptop to make reports and maintain contact with our clients, a walk during lunch is a welcome change. Now that all the CEOs (good abbreviation for our job title, right?) are in the office, we take a tour together. Not only does it keep our brain fresh, it also provides an opportunity to spar about things we are working on. And that sometimes yields good ideas, such as how we can make avoidable waste even more transparent for one of our clients.


Collaboration Waste Engineers

Back at the office I have an appointment with one of our Waste Engineers that I work with. The cooperation between Waste Engineers and the Circular Economy Officers is close. As CEO you are ultimately responsible for achieving the agreed goals. Our Waste Engineers analyze and implement optimizations that result in performance improvements.

During our appointment, we discuss our action points and come up with optimization ideas. We will also make a short training course that we will give to a group of stakeholders at our disposer in two weeks. This will provide a major improvement for the operational department of our disposer, with which we not only achieve a higher separation percentage, but also save manpower and therefore time. And that is a welcome bonus in a tight labor market.

Waste no longer incinerated

The end of the working day is in sight; first I'll finalize a proposal for a potential new disposer. Results achieved with existing clients are given a prominent place in this. I am very proud of a solution we recently found for 400 tons of hazardous waste that no longer needs to be incinerated. Definitely worth mentioning. I also mention that our disposers spend less time on their waste-related processes, such as preparing reports, checking and processing invoices and organizing and implementing improvements. I think that is an important reason that clients continue to work with Milgro for years.


Sustainable world

Working at Milgro means working with colleagues who have an inner drive for a more sustainable world. Both within our work and privately. Personal experiences with solar panels, heat pumps and waste-free shopping are regularly reviewed. But ideas about re-fuse, re-duce and re-pair and how we can apply them to clients are also regularly discussed.

I started working at Milgro because I really want to contribute in a concrete way to a more sustainable world. Sometimes people are surprised that my background is in psychology. It actually helps me to implement improvements and changes at clients. My colleagues in the CEO team all have different backgrounds. Sustainable development, strategic management and logistics, to name just a few examples. That makes it inspiring to work together.

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