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Elena Triaca, Promeco: "Constant comparison, research & development, innovation and creativity."

Today she is Sole Director of Promeco, an Italian company in Como that builds, on its own technology, plants and machines for recycling waste in general with production of energy or new finished products

Can we briefly review your professional career?

The path of my personal career, after my university studies, took place abroad, in Russia and especially in Germany and Austria. The experiences I gained outside Italy allowed me to acquire new skills, to get to know different realities from those in Italy in the early 1990s, and to learn to grasp, in the comparison, what could be of use in achieving my goals. Having returned to Italy, which I consider a magnificent place to live for its artistic, cultural and natural heritage, I decided, now 27 years ago, to embark on an entrepreneurial career at the invitation of the man who would later become my husband. Our idea was to start a company that could offer recycling solutions for urban and industrial waste, and so the story of Promeco began. The challenge was ambitious and entirely pioneering, suffice it to say that the Ronchi Decree was issued later (in February 1997) and was the first to lay the groundwork for waste management in our country. I have to admit that on my own I would never have found the courage to start such an innovative company, but thanks to the support of my partner, who already at that time boasted a considerable managerial background at the international level, I was able to put my skills into play and today I admit that the experience was and still is, extraordinary, even with all the difficulties involved. The know-how gained in northern Europe, where solutions for effective waste management were already in vogue, combined with my husband's technical yet visionary skills, was the starting point. Promeco, together with a staff of collaborators, professional, passionate and curious, has developed over the years, in terms of individual machines and turnkey plants, effective and technologically advanced solutions for the concrete recycling of waste: the factual transformation of waste into a resource. Over time, I focused my activities to the administrative and legal area, while not ceasing to poke around in the technical-business area. I was chairman of the board of directors and today I am the company's sole director. The approach to the plastics sector, which, I would like to point out, is not the only one of Promeco's activities, has always been innovative and transversal since it has focused from the beginning on the valorization and therefore recycling of industrial and post-consumer waste and not on the mere processing of virgin plastics. A milestone is certainly our non-traditional twin-screw extruder, PROMECO EXTRUDER SYSTEM®, which, among its many and varied applications, enables the recycling of mixed heterogeneous plastics and materials that are difficult to recover such as PA6 from spent fishing nets. The development of the Promeco pilot plant for converting mixed waste plastics into liquid, solid and gaseous fuel dates back to 2010. A few years later came the construction of the first plants to convert plastics into liquid hydrocarbon: turnkey industrial plants, operating continuously (not in batch) and fully automated. Today we are talking about Promeco Chemical Recycling, and Promeco, one of the few members of the Chemical Recycling Europe association, remains among the few companies able to offer an effective, continuous solution. Historical customers aspired to obtain from the valorization of plastic waste a combustible product that could be easily used internally at the plant or sold for engines, e.g. naval. Today, the goal is more ambitious: we are talking about 360-degree plastics recycling. I could sum up the ingredients of my entrepreneurial journey in a few concepts: constant confrontation, research & development, innovation and creativity. These elements have been and continue to be, the pivotal factors that guide my work and that of the entire Promeco staff with a distinct focus on each client. Experimenting, always and in all fields where my interest has been focused, has always been my vocation. I think it is a facet of curiosity and a certain liveliness that I like to keep in motion at all times. The key? Above all, to identify, to interpret the continuous and diverse stimuli that, together, create an intangible yet extremely important capital: the human capital, which enriches and corroborates the company's wealth of knowledge.

What has it meant to be a woman in this field?

The fact that I am a woman in fields where men may be in the majority has never created, nor does it create, difficulties for me today. I think this privileged status can be traced back to an aspect of my training. Thanks to sports, which I have practiced competitively since childhood, I have developed the ability to deal with individuals who are different from me in terms of gender, ethnicity, and social background, sharing the ethics of responsibility, solidarity, and fair play. These values are part of my daily living and help me to weave relationships, including professional ones, that are healthy and valuable, but above all, far from any prejudice. In the plastics industry, although apparently still dominated by men, there are still many women, perhaps less exposed to the spotlight, leading companies. And I have also met in recent years, with some amazement combined with undeniable satisfaction, women operating directly on plants, especially in Germany, Poland and the United States. Regardless of my status, which I consider privileged, it is my firm hope that the presence of women will be further strengthened. Based on multiple studies, I share the view that women's leadership is more open to teamwork, more open to sustainability, for a long-term vision. Women are undoubtedly multi-taskers, are able to think and operate in different directions at the same time, have a very innovative and more flexible mindset, and are empathic and thus able to value, in addition to the purely professional side, the human or emotional side of those they interface with. They tend to be more inclined to inclusiveness by strengthening individual identity and promoting equal participation in decision-making. And these characteristics, now more than ever, are needed for companies to meet and overcome the challenges of the near future.

What are your personal and/or corporate challenges for 2023?

My personal challenge for 2023 is to lead Promeco toward long-term value creation. Create value in a sustainable way, meeting the needs of communities, including the environment, customers, employees, and suppliers. Compete on the level of trust and responsibility, creating ever-deepening relationships. To create long-term profitability, employee loyalty, trusting relationships with suppliers and customers as well as support from government and communities are crucial. For this will be complex work: decisions to be made may involve trade-offs as the interests of different groups may also be at odds with each other. Promeco, for its part, has set itself a truly remarkable goal: to enable the plastics industry to make the concrete transition to a more sustainable economy. To close the "recycling circle" thanks to the PROMECO® CHEMICAL RECYCLING plant, a process that has now been developed for more than 10 years. Protecting the environment is a commitment we make day after day to improve ourselves and to ensure that our actions do not harm the environment.


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