Paul Cucco, 28, earned a bachelor's degree in packaging science with a minor in biological sciences from Clemson University. His first industry role was a paid internship in market development with Nova Chemicals Corp.
"Ever since I started studying packaging, I have always been drawn to plastics, specifically in flexible packaging. I found myself eagerly engaged in my plastics courses at Clemson because I enjoyed the balance of all the sciences and how applicable it was to real life — plastics just really clicked for me," Cucco said.
Other roles have included packaging engineer I at B. Braun Medical Inc., packaging engineer II at First Quality Enterprises Inc., and product development engineer and now technical manager for York, Pa.-based C-P Flexible Packaging.
"I work to develop flexible plastic packaging across a variety of markets to fulfill our customers' needs. I'm involved in sustainable product development promoting circularity and sustainable material management as well," Cucco said. "I am also a member of [the Flexible Packaging Association's] Emerging Leadership Council, where I collaborate with future industry leaders to promote growth in the industry."
Cucco said he continues to put effort in building new industry relationships and maintaining relationships with mentors.
"When there is an opportunity that pushes me outside of my comfort zone, I take it and treat it as a growth and development experience," he said. "Whether it be taking the lead on a presentation, sitting on a panel or stepping into key projects, I take every opportunity that I can to challenge myself and grow."
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Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Cucco: One of my greatest achievements up to this point has been being nominated and selected to join the FPA's Emerging Leadership Council. To be recognized as an emerging leader within my organization and industry is an honor I hold dearly. My work with FPA's Emerging Leadership Council has been an incredible experience and a valuable leadership growth opportunity.
Q: What is your philosophy related to plastics and sustainability? What steps have you taken to improve plastics' sustainability, either in work, your community or personal life?
Cucco: My philosophy on plastics and sustainability is that, as an industry, we need to change the negative connotation consumers have concerning plastics and the environment. I believe we need to support and drive circularity and responsible material management in order to prove plastics can be sustainable. New technologies and advancements in recycling infrastructure will help improve the circularity of plastics by opening the recycling stream to materials that were not previously considered recyclable.
Making recycling easier for the public through curbside pickup programs while also educating consumers on how to handle plastic materials responsibly will also promote circularity. I've taken steps in my personal life by educating myself on plastics and sustainability, driving sustainable product development in my workplace and promoting recycling programs to my family and peers.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Cucco: The plastics industry can expand efforts in diversity and inclusion by creating a professional network for underrepresented individuals. Prioritizing diversity and inclusion in this way will promote mentorship opportunities and provide valuable network building. I would also challenge organizations to develop and grow talent within by providing career and leadership advancement opportunities to individuals from underrepresented groups.