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The FLiP Files, Ana Silva

 

Ana Silva always knew she wanted to make a difference in her community. Growing up, she wanted to join the team at an NGO, one with a mission that helped people. Now, Ana serves as the CEO of COMITATVS, a trading company that aims to bridge the gap between international sustainable plastics supply and demand, and knows her work will help people for years to come.

How did Ana think of this idea? Ana’s father co-founded a compounding facility in Brazil more than 20 years ago and he continues to run this facility to this day.  After Ana graduated from George Washington University in Washington DC with a degree in International Development, she found herself with options: she could immediately join the non-profit sector in DC or she could move back to Brazil to help the community there. She traveled back to Brazil and began working at her father’s compounding facility. 

“My whole life my father has basically been in the plastics industry,” Ana said. “I was never really interested in joining the plastics industry until I worked there and I saw first-hand the opportunities to make a positive impact.”

Working at the compounding facility gave Ana the idea to start a company that makes recycled and bioplastic materials more readily available. 

“After about a year of learning in Brazil, I decided to move back home to Massachusetts and start my own recycled and bioplastics trading company here,” Ana said. “We are breaking down access barriers because so many companies, especially in developing countries like Brazil, don't have access to these recycled and bioplastic materials so that's definitely a goal of ours- to make these recycled plastic resins and bioplastic materials available.”

Ana works with a small, but dedicated team at COMITATVS, the company she co-founded a little more than a year ago. As the co-founder and CEO, she wears a lot of different hats during the workday. Some days she is interviewing talent to expand her team. Other days Ana finds herself on the supplier side of the business and nurtures new connections and sourcing new materials. Ana also works with customers and handles marketing for the organization. “That's one of the things that I really like about my position: I get to do so many different things.”

Ana sees the plastics industry as one that is innovative and forward-thinking, especially in the fields of sustainability and recycling. She realizes that, despite this innovation, the plastics industry often needs to combat criticisms.  “I think people’s concerns for environmental impact are valid, but I think it's naive in a way. It's naive because it doesn't take into account the full picture in comparison to alternatives. A lot of the work the plastics industry does includes building new capacities for recycling and recycled materials as well as biobased plastics, but I think there is a need to grow education and awareness efforts surrounding sustainability and the life cycle of recycled as well as bioplastic materials,” Ana said.

Through COMITATVS, Ana aims to do exactly that: promote the circularity of plastics and contribute to industry efforts of sustainability through recycling, biobased materials and new technologies for end-of-life options.  To those who care about their community, Ana recommends making a difference by getting involved in the plastics industry. “I think a lot of young people today are very attuned to the world's problems and global issues. I think showing that plastics have such a huge potential in contributing to solving problems is key in being attractive to the next generation. Instead of getting through the narrative that ‘plastics are bad’, show these young people that there is a lot of innovation that happens within the plastics industry and a lot of industry companies have a social and environmental mission or a corporate responsibility program.”

The FLiP Files is a blog series spotlighting young professionals who are active in PLASTICS' Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), a group for plastics professionals under the age of 40. For this FLiP File, we spoke with Ana Silva, Co-founder and CEO of COMITATVS about her experience working in the plastics industry.

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