Christina Jaeger is the director of the Grameen Creative Lab's Yunus Environment Hub, which she co-founded in 2019 with 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and professor Muhammad Yunus to address social business solutions for environmental issues.
Yunus founded the Grameen Bank, a microcrediting institution, in 1976 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Yunus and creative adviser Hans Reitz started Grameen Creative Lab in 2009 to focus on zero poverty, unemployment and zero net carbon emission.
In January, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste announced a partnership with the Grameen Creative Lab to support the development of Zero Plastic Waste Cities to "improve municipal solid waste management and increase recycling of plastic materials in low- and middle-income countries," which Jaeger said has been her greatest achievement.
Grameen Creative Lab is identifying local partners to implement the projects and conduct pilot assessments in India and Vietnam, and it is exploring options to scale to additional cities in 2021.
Jaeger is also involved with PREVENT Waste Alliance and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy initiative.
"The first time I got in contact with the plastics sector was when we created a social business concept to upcycle plastic waste into 3D printing filament," she said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey. "It was a great experiment to learn about plastics and its material properties. I was excited about the versatility of the material and transforming it into new products."
Asked what job she might like to have in the future, Jaeger said she loves what she is doing and does not plan to stop it any time soon.
Lianne Mason, head of project communications for AEPW, nominated Jaeger for Women Breaking the Mold.
Find more profiles of Women Breaking the Mold here.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Jaeger: I find it a very exciting industry and wonder why women are so much underrepresented.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Jaeger: The lack of improper waste management and segregation at source makes it so difficult to recycle plastic materials. We need higher usage and acceptance of secondary materials in the market.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Jaeger: Technologies that help to sort and recycle low-value and multilayer packaging as well as new product design to prevent hard-to-recycle materials. We are working on use cases for secondary plastic materials, and it is still a fairly small market. We hope this market will expand and find more adapters.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Jaeger: I would encourage [them] to look into the principles of a circular economy and advise to make sure that in whatever area or stage of the plastic product life cycle you work, make sure that you keep the material in the loop and prevent further ocean plastic.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Jaeger: Professor Muhammad Yunus has been my mentor for the past 10 years and has been a constant source of inspiration, guidance and is someone who challenges me to create a better world every day.