One of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs has revealed how seeking to help save the planet is also creating local jobs, despite the immense recruitment challenges posed by Brexit.

David MacDonald, CEO of Cullen Eco-Friendly Packaging, was speaking on the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey.

His company has produced more than 1 billion eco-friendly packaging products since 2020 and recently announced the creation of 120 new jobs, driving a £15 million expansion plan to make the UK a sustainable products and packaging manufacturing leader.

“We have 320 staff and have created more than a billion products in the past two years, exporting into 34 countries worldwide,” David explained. “We are the only company that can do it in Europe to that level and to that scale.”

He also pointed to the company’s design and innovation hub for new raw materials, which will create another 120 jobs, but added: “There’s a struggle with recruitment, obviously with Brexit and a lot of labour moving out of the UK. It’s a big challenge for us . . . probably our biggest challenge.”

Sir Tom Hunter asked: “What would you say to the new First Minister, whoever he or she is, that positive immigration would be a good thing for Scotland?”

“I think what I would say is, as humbly as I could, that we’re already employing locally, building the machines in Glasgow, we are just getting started, so why are you not giving us some support or at least helping us? At least come to the table and have a chat!”

Lord Willie Haughey agreed that Brexit had and is still presenting major challenges in terms of recruitment, saying: “There’s absolutely no doubt now for all the people who were huge Brexiteers, and I’m in the exact same boat as David now, did we think we’d be sitting two years later where everyone is saying we can’t get employees?

“You never, ever in your wildest dreams did you think you’d be sitting and seeing that in the UK. It’s going to get tougher and tougher for people like David and I.”

Despite the challenges, Cullen is proving to be an innovative force in promoting new sustainable products that help mitigate the climate-changing effects of mass consumerism. Among its new products for single-use plastic alternatives is the fibre bottle, which can hold dry goods as varied as vitamins and spices to pet foods and household cleaning products.

Billed as biodegradable, recyclable and compostable, this paper bottle is now being produced in the hundreds of millions.

“We’ve patented the machine and the process,” said David, “so we can build these machines within six months. They can mass manufacture roughly 270 million bottles at a competitive price point with plastic.

“A hundred percent plastic-free [product], they can be made in any shape, any size, any colour . . . and all made in Glasgow. We have the technology to do that.

“To give you an example of why this is so important, in your house with your kids, your family, you’re trying to recycle your products and do the right thing, which is great.

“However, just so you know, only 9% of plastics you ‘recycle’ actually get recycled, which means 91% of the plastic we throw away, myself included, goes into landfill, the oceans, to third world countries.

“When a plastic bottle is disposed of and sits in landfill, sits in the ocean, it’ll take 417 years to naturally biodegrade . . . that will outlive five generations of our family. That’s the extent of it. So the bottles that I can make, mass-manufactured at a competitive price point, will naturally biodegrade in 18 months.”