Tamsin Ettefagh said she initially hated plastics but "instead of banning and protesting against them," she spent 30 years learning about them and working to get them recycled. Her father told her to "find a way to fix what is broken."
She has held positions as a principal for Gulf National Trading Co.; sales manager for plastics recycler KW Plastics of Troy, Ala.; founder and vice president of recycler Envision Plastics LLC of Reidsville, N.C.; and treasurer of the Association of Plastic Recyclers for 14 years.
Ettefagh said her greatest achievement has been building Envision into a state-of-the-art high density polyethylene recycling company with her two partners.
Asked in her Women Breaking the Mold survey what job she would like to have in the future, Ettefagh said consulting, where she can have a "new impact" and effect change in "moving the needle on more plastics recovery."
In June, after 19 years with Envision, she announced she was starting a consulting firm, Tamsinette LLC.
"I am already busy on my first day and cannot thank the industry enough. I hope to move the needle even more than I did just making and selling recycled resin," she wrote on her LinkedIn page.
Ettefagh graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor's degree in communications. She was nominated by Allison Lin, vice president of procurement and sustainability at Westfall Technik Inc.
"As a young woman entering this industry without a degree in polymers or engineering however learning and getting to where I am now was definitely a nontraditional mold-breaking achievement," Ettefagh said.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Ettefagh: My father telling me not to ban plastics but rather find a way to fix what is broken.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Ettefagh: It's never boring and there is lots of work to be done. Plastics has aided so many advancements, and if we take care ... of the side effects of waste going forward, we will have many more advancements to bring to the world.
Q: If you were CEO of a company, what would you do first?
Ettefagh: Find a disrupter and implement it. Looking at times outside our industry you can find technologies that bring new innovations. It's possible not having a formal education in the plastics field has given me a different way of looking at problems. Not to disparage those who helped me learn and were formally educated and others who have done so much more than I have.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Ettefagh: Robotics for better sorting as well as digital markers.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Ettefagh: Until recently the lack of responsibility for end of life. However I think companies are now realizing they may lose their license to do business unless they step up. I'm very hopeful.