From Hospitality to Circularity

October 20, 2023

These days, Tania tells people that the facts all point to the same conclusion: plastics are wonderful, essential materials we can’t live without. AND they have significant environmental benefits over other materials.

Since 1953, Husky Technologies has pioneered technologies that enable delivery of essential needs to the global community. Today, by focusing on sustainably sourced feedstocks, material reuse and the exclusive use of medical-grade polymers, Husky is wholly committed to enabling the circular economy.

As Tania Ferlin, Husky’s Global Manager of Communications and ESG summed it up, “Our teams are constantly innovating for greater sustainability and easier recyclability, and our systems effectively process up to 100% recycled PET. I could go on, but I’ll stop there!”

Actually, “stopping” isn’t really a word in Tania’s vocabulary. Her very full days are spent strategizing and implementing high-priority initiatives in sustainability advocacy, ESG, and internal communications. “My goal,” Tania said, “is to build a united and informed global network of team members while engaging externally to tell the story of plastics (especially PET) as both an essential and sustainable material.”

Connecting purpose and productivity

Tania was enjoying a successful career in the hotel industry when she first learned about the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles that have become an essential part of doing business, helping companies establish a positive relationship with the world at large and the communities in which they operate.

“I started spending countless hours of my spare time volunteering for social and environmental causes that I cared about,” Tania said, “causes that connected to the hotel industry, as that’s where I knew I could make a difference.”

As she began to move her career in a more ESG-focused direction, Tania began looking for a way to make an even larger positive impact. When the opportunity to join Husky presented itself, she went through a deep-dive research phase as part her decision-making process. “I was somewhat concerned about the connection to the plastics industry,” she said.

Here’s what Tania discovered about Husky: “Husky is proactively innovating for sustainability and circularity as an important part of the solution to a circular economy of plastics, and fueled by this mission to constantly produce innovations that benefit families and the environment.”

Here’s what she discovered about the plastics industry: “If you’re concerned about the planet and future generations, you need to work where you can make the greatest impact. Since we all agree plastics don’t belong in the environment, that they need to be kept in the economy for the critical roles they play, this is the industry to be in if you want to make a positive impact.”

Tania continued, “It was eye-opening for me to discover that plastics aren’t the ‘evil’ material I once thought them to be. Prior to joining the industry, I felt guilty when I used plastic products but that was an emotional reaction, not one based on science or the real facts.

These days, Tania tells people that the facts all point to the same conclusion: plastics are wonderful, essential materials we can’t live without. AND they have significant environmental benefits over other materials.

Discovering the people of plastics

In addition to discovering amazing materials, Tania is grateful to have met amazing people in the plastics industry. “I have received very valuable mentorship from both my boss, Henry Zhang, and my CEO, John Galt. They have supported me and trusted me since Day One, and their guidance and advice has 10-X’d my growth and learning.”

The Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) mentorship program from PLASTICS has also contributed significantly to Tania’s growth by connecting her with Kristin Kelley, VP of Corporate Communications and External Affairs at Amcor Rigid Packaging. “Being new to the industry and navigating what is often a male-dominated space, it has been very empowering to grow a connection with Kristin—a strong female leader,” Tania said. “I continue to learn from her at every interaction.”

Tania is making her own contributions to FLiP—an initiative for plastics professionals under age 40— as Chair for its Continuing Education Task Group. “I get the opportunity to be involved with many interactive sessions with fellow FLiP members on topics that contribute to our professional and personal growth,” she said. “As a lifelong learner, that’s extremely important to me.”

Calling to a generation

This lifelong learner is also intrigued to learn just how much people in general don’t understand about plastics.

“Most people care about the environment,” Tania said, “and I think they would be shocked to find out that properly managed plastics are in fact the most sustainable material.” To change misperceptions, Tania suggests expanding public-facing campaigns like Recycling is Real from PLASTICS and the Recycle Bowl, an initiative in which Amcor brought together a group of industry partners, including PLASTICS, to raise awareness on recycling at a recent college football game, while also setting a world record for the most amount of recycling at a college football game.

Looking back at her journey, Tania hopes other people of her generation will come to the same realizations she has. “I’m a Millennial. We’ve all read the studies showing that 64% of Millennials won’t take a job if the employer doesn’t have a strong Corporate Social Responsibility policy, and 83% would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues. We seek to work with companies that align with our values. We want to make a difference. Building a career in the plastics industry allows the opportunity to do just that. And all while working alongside passionate people that care about the same thing!”

PLASTICS and the Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Committee are devoted to supporting and encouraging the next generation of plastics leaders who will play a crucial role in the innovation, technology and future of the plastics industry. FLiP’s mission is to provide young professionals under the age of 40 the exposure, education and resources they need to build lifelong careers in plastics. Want to join? Want to get your employees involved?  Email: [email protected]