During the coronavirus pandemic, when some businesses were closed and others were ramping up production to keep up with demand, Aiñe Curran launched the PVC-123 medical recycling program for recycling oxygen masks, oxygen mask tubing and intravenous fluid bags, most of which are used in hospital operating rooms. Some stats estimate operating rooms generate 30 percent of all hospital waste.
Curran, CEO of the Vinyl Institute of Canada, marks this as her greatest achievement.
"Plastic has saved countless lives during this pandemic, and I believe the vital role of plastics throughout the pandemic are immeasurable," she said. "Aside from being the only protection that front-line medical workers have had to rely on pre-vaccine, many, including the general public, continue to rely upon plastics to protect themselves from contracting the virus.
"I have been very proud [to] share the fact that many plastics instruments were necessary and used to undertake research, develop vaccines and deliver them to the world. And as far as jabs into arms… those syringes are all plastic," she added.
Curran obtained a bachelor's degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and studied French at Glendon College and political campaign management at Yale University.
She joined the plastics industry in 2014 as the director of issues management for the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.
"I became very interested in the plastics industry after coming to understand the importance of this very valuable material in society," she said.
"Beyond its common day-to-day consumer applications from food safety to sanitation applications, learning about underground water main infrastructure and health care applications gave me a tremendous appreciation of just how much we need and rely on plastics to keep us safe from accessing clean drinking water to crucial medical procedures, and how plastics have advanced the overall health and well-being of society since their invention in 1907, and PVC specifically between 1838 and 1872," she added.
Curran is involved with the Vinyl Sustainability Council, Global Vinyl Council and Canadian Council of Sustainable Industries.
Curran was nominated by Tribu Persaud of Norwich Plastics.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Curran: The most significant challenge for myself and our entire global industry is responding to the accelerated politicizing and banning of plastics products by governments around the world.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Curran: Regardless of what industry you work in, there will always be challenges and criticisms. Your sole purpose in any career is to serve those who use your products or services, and no matter what position you hold, you must advance the industry that you serve.
Q: Who is your mentor or someone you look up to?
Curran: Personally: My parents. [They] moved to Canada in their 40s with six children under the age of 12, and all of whom today enjoy successful lives and careers.
Professionally: Director of corporate affairs for IPEX North America and chairman and founder of the Vinyl Institute of Canada for his never-ending wisdom.