Jacqueline O’Donovan (pictured) has stepped down as MD of London’s O’Donovan Waste Disposal after 36 years at the helm.

One of the most vocal and recognisable figures in the UK’s recycling and waste sector, she will continue to offer independent advice to the company’s Swedish owners Sortera but added that she was also keen to explore “what else I can turn my hand to”.

O’Donovan became MD of the family firm at the young age of 19 and became something of a trailblazer in a male-dominated industry, championing improved standards and helping to make it safer, cleaner and more responsible.

While passionately advocating for road safety and best practice, she also oversaw the continued growth of her business and her efforts resulted in O’Donovan receiving an OBE by King Charles III in December 2023.

“I have no intention of abandoning the waste industry as it has been my love for 36 years and it has been such a fantastic journey that I have had from £175,000 turnover back in the 80s, leaving on a £20m+ high is an amazing achievement from all the family and staff,” O’Donovan said. 

Jacqueline O'Donovan, MD O'Donovan Waste Disposal

Jacqueline O’Donovan, MD O’Donovan Waste Disposal

Source: O’Donovan Waste Disposal

“I will be on the end of a telephone available at any time for the team and the directors. I will be representing Sortera on a small number of industry working groups.

“I am looking forward to exciting new challenges ahead.”

She added: “Receiving my OBE on 19th December was simply the cherry on the cake for me, an amazing high to finish on. As they say in the films - that’s a wrap!”

Mark McCleery, MD of Sortera UK, which bought the company in 2022, said: “I am excited with what we plan to achieve in 2024 and beyond, with our aim of being the partner of choice in respect of sustainable construction.

“O’Donovan Waste Disposal is clearly an industry leader and along with the second acquisition of GBN in mid-2023 we have secured fantastic businesses to build upon.”