Jasmeet Kaur is the senior manager for sustainability for the Coca-Cola Co., a published author, an inventor with five granted patents and two pending, a conference speaker, current president and past vice president of education of the 310 North Toastmasters Club at Coca-Cola, board member of the Southeast Recycling Development Council and plenty more.
Kaur had always been interested in chemistry and molecules, so she pursued her doctoral degree in polymer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"My first plastics job was product developer in 3M's Abrasive Division working on Scotch-Brite nonwoven abrasives for industrial application," she said.
She is experienced in end-to-end innovation, product development, package commercialization, strategic technology scouting initiatives, project management and execution. Her greatest achievement has been leading the launch of Coca-Cola North America's first 100 percent recycled PET bottle for Coca-Cola sparkling and Dasani water brands.
In her current role, she provides "leadership and direction for the Coca-Cola North America Operating Unit, with respect to the development and execution of World Without Waste program for Coke, focused on meeting the 2030 goals for sustainability"; supports "the identification and compilation of sustainable packaging metrics needed to report the packaging sustainability performance of the NA Coca-Cola System internally and externally; and acts as a "technical consultant as it relates to sustainable packaging and recycling in NA by responding to targeted questions from the field or other departments/business units and providing support to branches, bottlers and customers."
Her current work challenge is balancing the business's pursuit of growth and innovation while making sustainable packaging design choices.
"Being a woman of color, minority and an immigrant, I am often assumed to be the voice of technology and innovation. I am trying to break the mold of being a tech lady and expand myself into tough business and leadership conversations," Kaur said. "It's easy to get stereotyped and hard to break those assumptions unless you go the extra mile to prove yourself."
Q: What's an accomplishment of yours that most people don't know about, either for work or in your personal life?
Kaur: I play the role of a secret recycling sleuth. On my walks, I carry a bag to collect scattered recyclables/trash along the sidewalks and bring them home for recycling. I also keep a secret eye on how people are mixing up trash in recycle bins and drop secret notes in their mailboxes on how to recycle under my alter ego name "Recycle Mom."
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Kaur: I would love more girls and women to show interest in STEM-based careers and in plastics engineering. I would advise them to always have a growth mindset, learn to be hands-on and don't be afraid to get down in the weeds.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Kaur: Plastics are an essential part of our lives from starting our day with a toothbrush to a scaffold in our body. The plastics industry has invented and evolved by leaps and bounds many new plastics and found infinite applications to use them. However, I am surprised that the industry collectively did not focus on finding innovative solutions for the end of life of these new plastics, so that they did not end in the environment.