Monika Stroeder, 32
Circular Economy Market Development Manager
Monika Stroeder graduated from the University of Toronto with an honors bachelor's degree in chemistry and materials science, Royal Military College of Canada with a master's degree in chemical and materials engineering and Queen's University with a Ph.D. in chemical and materials engineering.
In 2015, she applied for her first patent. She was granted her first patent application in 2019 — the first of six patents to come out that year.
Her first job was as a product development research scientist for Calgary, Alberta-based polyethylene maker Nova Chemicals, where she still works today.
"In the role, I led multidisciplinary fast-paced innovation projects, including new resin development at pilot plant and commercial scales, using a variety of catalyst and reactor technologies," Stroeder said. "I love science and engineering, so this role spoke to me from the start. But the fact that I was designing resins that would be used in physical goods that you and I use daily allowed me to impact the big picture, too."
Her greatest achievement at work has been transitioning from research and development to the marketing department, where she is now responsible for leading the Circular Economy strategy, design and rollout.
Stroeder was born in Toronto and raised in the Middle East — Saudia Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. She speaks English, French and Polish.
Andie Stiles, marketing communications and trade PR manager at Nova Chemicals, nominated Stroeder for Rising Stars.
Plastics News: What is your current challenge at work?
Stroeder: I am working in an emerging market that is in the spotlight — the circular economy. The biggest challenge, currently, is about making the best decisions around plastics sustainability for the long term and not just a knee-jerk reaction to satisfy the outcry in the near-term.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Stroeder: The plastics industry is the third-largest manufacturing industry in the United States. It touches absolutely everyone and every business. Plastics have endless growth opportunities and they continue to make everyday life healthier, easier and safer. Polyethylene is the polymer I work solely with and it is the most commonly used polymer and structurally the simplest. It is truly amazing what science can do.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Stroeder: The first thing I would do is go to the work floor and engage in conversation with everyone, both personally and professionally. Talk to those on the front lines that make the company successful. Get to know who they are, their interests, what makes them passionate about their work and lives, as well as stressors and deficiencies that make their jobs more difficult. I believe this would improve morale and productivity, align everyone in our strategy, and make us stronger together.
Q: One of our criteria for Rising Stars is whether they are active in plastics industry, manufacturing or their community. How are you involved?
Stroeder: I have been involved, either as an organizer or an attendee, with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup for the last 5 years. This organization is now recognized as one of the largest direct-action conservation programs in Canada to inspire Canadians to keep all shorelines free of litter.
I have been involved in a waste audit and improvement initiative with a small group of colleagues for NOVA. Over the last few years, we have improved and grown our in-house recycling from an original diversion rate of 60 percent to our current diversion rate of almost 95 percent. The most significant improvements we made were around compostable, office and company event waste. Most recently, we also launched an EPS recycling drop-off where the recyclate can be made into picture frames, composite decking, airplane tray tables, among other items.
I am a member of the advisory board for AMI's U.S. Stretch and Shrink Conference. I facilitate with program design, invite relevant speakers, and this year I hope to chair the event or participate in a panel discussion.
Recently, I have been involved with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to help them develop recommendations on how to achieve zero plastic waste and how to implement this provincially and federally within Canada.