The benefits of controlling your own business and creating your own job by running a co-operative enterprise have been shared by a Bradford firm, which developed from a voluntary recycling service.

A record 15.4 million people across the UK are reaping the advantages of being part of a co-operative – an increase of 36 per cent since 2008 and up 13.6 per cent in the last year. The number of co-operative businesses in the UK has also risen by 28 per cent since 2008 and four per cent in the last year, which Co-operatives UK says is due to people seeking independence, fairness and control by ‘growing their own’ business.

Bradford Waste Chasers Ltd started as a voluntary paper recycling service called Bradford Recyclers, but became a not-for-profit co-operative company in 1989.

Workers co-operative member Jon Cannar said: “Everybody’s involved in the decision-making process and everybody has a part in the business and is striving for a common goal.

“Everybody’s trying to make the best out of the company and make it more efficient. We’re not-for-profit, but that doesn’t mean we’re not commercial, but the money goes back into the company.”

Each of the five members share responsibility at the firm, which is based off Bowling Back Lane and recycles paper and offers a paper shredding service, and each shares the roles within it, taking equal salaries.

Mr Cannar said co-operatives, which are owned and run by members, were good environments to work in as everyone was equal.

“In a lot of countries in Europe the co-operative movement is bigger than here in the UK, but it’s good that the numbers are increasing here,” he said.

In a report called Homegrown: The Co-operative Economy 2013, published yesterday by Co-operatives UK, the £37 billion turnover of the UK’s Co-operative Economy is shown to have grown by 3.3 per cent in 12 months. Secretary general of Co-operatives UK Ed Mayo said: “A record number of people in the UK are now members of co-operatives.

“They are economically active within those co-operatives and have a big stake in making them a success. This is why we can still see growth in the co-operative economy, despite the very tough economic trading conditions."