Trent Romer’s family has a long history of entrepreneurship, dating back to 1961. What started in plastic bag manufacturing eventually made Trent question the family business, and seek solutions to build a more sustainable company. We had the chance to sit down with Trent and learn about his experience as plastic manufacturer turned sustainable CEO.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I am from a large family—-my father is one of 11 and I have 30 first cousins. Our plastic manufacturing family business began in 1961 by my grandfather, then was owned my Dad and now my brother and I.
The anti-plastic narrative has forced us to re-think our business as well as forced me to internally deal with some feelings I have had about plastics in the environment for many years. Our company and my personal journey to sustainability began in 2018.
The journey took me to multiple places to become educated and gain feedback in order to take action. The journey is documented in my book Finding Sustainability set for release June 1st, 2021.
What is a fun fact about you?
I played college basketball at Hamilton College for 4 years … loved it!
What was your motivation to get into this industry?
My Dad. Growing up, he never missed one of his kids games, he was home at night—-he worked super hard but had some the flexibility to balance work with life. He also said “we are in business to support the people and their families we employ.” That has always stuck with me.
Why do you think climate change/sustainability is such an important topic today?
The signs of neglect are everywhere—–plastic in the oceans, catastrophic weather events, unprecedented forest fires etc. The appetite, sentiment and willingness for change in a more sustainable direction seems to be growing for consumers, educators and businesses. (& hopefully the government)
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Full immersion in circular economy. More sustainable/circular materials in the form of post consumer recycled content, compostable and biobased. Investment in infrastucture to support the circular flow of materials — industrial composters, updated recycling centers, curbside pickup for more materials etc.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Buy recycled content products. “If we are not buying recycled content, we are not recycling.” Buying habits drive the demand for materials. Higher demand for recycled content will help build infrastructure to process recyclables in turn providing a home for items historically viewed as waste.
What positive changes are you seeing?
The requests for more sustainable materials are higher than ever. We are manufacturing more and more items made from more sustainable packaging every month.
Thank you Trent, for taking the time and sharing your experience as a Plastic Manufacturer Turned Sustainable CEO.
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