Interview with Andrea Descargar from Green City Plastics Inc.
By Maryam Farag
With over seven years of working in the plastics waste industry, Descargar’s passion for sustainability and helping North American manufacturers work towards zero waste has been one of her proudest achievements to date.
Her role includes establishing new territories, nurturing client relations, negotiation, project management, D2C, digital marketing, providing staffing solutions, and understanding consumer behavior.
What is the mission of Green City Plastics Inc.?
Andrea Descargar: I have been with the company since day one and what we do there is we work with manufacturers to achieve a zero-waste goal, so I tell everyone all the time we are not your regular recycler because we truly do care about the environment first obviously, and from there we also educate the manufacturers and their employees on how to achieve sustainability realistically.
What is your role there as director?
AD: So right now, we are in the hiring process which is amazing. Growing the team is always fun, and I love working with people so it’s very fitting for my personality. I guess the day-to-day role, would be my top priorities, is taking care of the customer, and of course any customer inquiries and anything that needs immediate attention. So ongoing and incoming loads and communicating with the team to ensure that those are brought to their attention, and we meet the actual goals of what material needs to be sent out for that day, and then I’d say the second would be following up with active leads and new contracts.
This is so crucial to ensure that I’m constantly closing for future growth of the company. There’s just so much opportunity, and I think now that supply chain has been working with the mindset of that instead of sending our garbage in waste to Asian countries or overseas, we’re now looking at how to deal with this in our own country, and it’s amazing because now it’s going to create a closed-loop supply chain, which is going to better the economy as a whole.
Have you faced any barriers in regard to being a female working in a male-dominant field?
AD: Well, I’d say in the very beginning, I just turned 30 now, so seven years ago when I was maybe 24 it was very challenging because when you’re young and a minority and a female, especially in the industry, people are like ‘hey who’s this little girl coming into here and just trying to change things up and get us to think different’. So, I’d say the biggest challenge was really trying to break the traditions of what they were doing before to now, just being very progressive and getting them open-minded to do things differently.
I’m actually seeing how, in my seventh or eighth year I’ve been with the company, there’s a lot more other women in waste and on the production level, so it’s really great because I’m able to really establish relationships easier that way. I’m sure you know it’s just a lot easier to talk to your girlfriends and your guy friends so kind of like that when it comes to relationship building.
Looking back, what kind of support systems would have helped you deal with some of the gender-related challenges you may have encountered in the industry?
AD: I’d have to say promoting more women in waste. I think when I first started out when I was maybe 24, it would have been nice to see some sort of campaign or something to promote, and have that network available. In the beginning, I didn’t have a lot of a network so I even failed at this because I’ve just been so busy. I even tried to create a woman in waste and energy in Canada sort of group on LinkedIn, but it just wasn’t working, so I think having a network would have been great for my growth in the beginning of it, just to connect with other women in the industry.
If you had to describe your whole journey since you started in this career in one word, what would that word be?
AD: I’d have to say in a nutshell that one word would be an ‘adventure’. Originally, I wanted to say roller coaster ride, but I’d have to say an adventure because an adventure is exciting; you learn new things and there is so much self-growth and learning throughout this seven-to-eight-year process that I’ve been in this industry.
Especially with confidence issues, I wasn’t confident in the beginning, now I’m able to walk in somewhere and just break the mental barriers that we put out for ourselves sometimes.
It taught me to grow thick skin and embrace failure, so I knew that in the beginning, when I would fail, I kind of pity myself and say ‘oh no I did something wrong’, but now when I fail I’m like ‘oh this is awesome!’, I’m going pick apart where I failed and how could I improve this and get the results that I actually want. It’s really a great tool to learn and build the business with bits and pieces of failure.