The recycling world is witnessing great innovation. The landscape is changing, both in terms of technology and the faces seen in the crowds at tradeshows and conferences. This feature shines a spotlight on women representing the global scrap industry. Meet Jacqueline Lotzkar of Pacific Metals Recycling in Canada.
The Lotzkar family founded Pacific Metals Recycling in Vancouver over 100 years ago. Jacqueline remembers ‘growing up in scrap’ and learning the ropes from her father, Mark. After studying abroad in Austria and Taiwan, she became a trader and advocate for young entrepreneurs in the industry, closely involved with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).
What’s your connection to recycling?
‘You could say I was born into the industry as I am a fourth generation recycler in my family. After finishing my master’s degree in international business, I was in Europe with plans to move back to Canada. My dad offered me an opportunity in our trading team which allowed me to join the family business while continuing my passion for international business and travel, so it was the perfect fit.’
You made Recycling International’s 2021 Top 100 list. How did that feel?
‘I am honoured and grateful to have been included on this new list of global recycling leaders. There were some great names to be recognised alongside. For example, Robin Wiener of ISRI is definitely someone I look up to in the industry. I’m very proud to be a part of the recycling industry and continuing our family tradition of environmental stewardship.’
Looking back on 2021, what the highlight of your year?
‘The highlight was moving our company from our existing site, where we had been for 60 years, to a brand new location. It was a very big project. The new facility presents a real growth opportunity for us and we have heavily invested in creating a space in which we hope everyone will be proud to work. I’m excited for the opportunities 2022 will bring.’
Your company was founded in 1912. A lot has changed since then, especially in terms of mindset. How do you think this can help innovate the sector?
‘I use the metaphor of being a bridge between two worlds, the traditional and the modern one. Having grown up in the industry, in many ways I feel deeply connected to honouring the mindset and ways things have been done in the past. At the same time, as a young executive in the industry, I identify with wanting change and progress to adopt new technologies and ways of doing things.’
‘The next generation of consumers will demand goods with higher recycled content and the next generation of recyclers can bring that perspective to the industry. The approach we need to take is sharing our story about the good we do. People need to understand that, even though recycling appears to be a dirty industry, we are doing the work that closes the loop in manufacturing.’
You’ve often voiced the importance of mentorship for young entrepreneurs. What other social issues have your attention?
‘I am passionate about female empowerment and diversity, equity and inclusion and efforts to elevate diverse perspectives in the recycling industry. In addition to networking with other women to boost female empowerment in the industry, I like to network with men who are also involved in empowering women. My hope is the next generation of recyclers will have many women and people of colour in leadership roles to look up to, both within recycling companies and as elected officers in our trade associations. Representation matters and to make this industry more inclusive in the future we need to be investing and advancing women and people of colour into leadership now.’
What kept you motivated during the pandemic?
‘We have collectively been through a traumatic two years. With all the lockdowns and challenges we experienced, I’m not sure it was possible to maintain a good work/life balance. At the beginning of the pandemic, my primary focus was on keeping our business operating and our employees safe and healthy. Personally, I have tried to focus on what I am grateful for each day and relaxed as much as I could by practising yoga and keeping fit. It also helped to take lots of walks with my dog, Jet.’
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