As a communicator with a chemical engineering degree, Susan is well suited to share the story of plastic and sustainability.
“Sustainable innovation is what we do. And looking for ideas and working with partners where we can drive that. That’s the story.”
Susan gathers inspiration from the pioneering work of her colleagues. They create innovative plastics that make our automobiles safer and lighter, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And recycled plastic for our shoes, which helps improve sustainability.
“I’m a people person, so I get energized working with really smart people, especially when I hear about some of the applications we’re doing in the automotive and footwear space. Many of the things that we’re working on with customers embody sustainable innovation, like using recycled [plastic] in footwear.”
As the Head of Communications for Performance Materials (North America) at BASF, Susan gets to tell the story of how innovation and new ways of making plastic can lead to a more sustainable future.
Meet Susan. One of America’s Change Makers.
Susan marries her technical knowledge and communications skills to make complex topics easier for people to understand. Topics like sustainability and advanced recycling.
“Sometimes I think the world of plastics and maybe even the world of chemistry seems very spooky to people . . . And so being able to simplify it, make people relate to it and go, okay, you’re talking about plastics, you’re talking about advanced recycling. You’re talking about taking a material that instead of throwing it away, it’s brought back in, broken down into its components, and then put back into a process where it becomes new plastic. That’s basically recycling in a nutshell.”
Susan envisions advanced recycling as the next episode in the plastic and sustainability story.
“Sustainability is embedded in everything we do. And advanced recycling is an important chapter of the story. It’s clearly the future. And when you think about how do you really make a dent in recycling plastics? Advanced recycling is definitely one of the top ways to do it, right along with having a good infrastructure.”
But it’s going to require teamwork. Susan recognizes that broad collaboration is critical to developing innovative solutions like advanced recycling.
“This is where it comes back to collaboration. Because you may have an idea and go well, we should do this. We should stop making it this way. And maybe today it’s not possible. But when you work with companies like ours and the rest of the plastics industry, that’s where you get those ideas, and then you can come up with a solution that changes everything.”
Solutions will come from many sources. And by working together, Susan believes our society to better able to achieve its sustainability goals.
“The plastics industry is a partner. We want to be part of the solution. Like most things, we’re smarter together.”
Change Makers like Susan are helping the plastics industry use innovation to write the next chapter on sustainability.