Kim Holmes - Vice President of Sustainability for the Plastics Industry Association

Kim Holmes Plastics Industry Association

Kim Holmes is Vice President of Sustainability for the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS). The sustainability team provides support for all sustainability and recycling related work undertaken by the councils and committees at PLASTICS.  The association is committed to maximizing the recovery of all plastics, both post-industrial and post-consumer, across all product categories. PLASTICS has developed a truly collaborative, supply chain approach to identifying new end markets that will create demand pull through for recycled plastics.  During her time at PLASTICS, Kim has worked to develop the Zero Net Waste recognition program, sustainability benchmarking for the industry, and a number of innovative recovery demonstration projects. 

Kim Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • Addressing the ocean plastic crisis

  • Designing plastic products and packaging for the circular economy

  • Sustainability of plastics as a material

  • Changing recovery dynamics in the United States

  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

Kim's Final Five Question Responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

Stay optimistic. Particularly working on plastics recovery issues on a daily basis, sometimes these challenges that we face can seem very overwhelming but it's the progress we make even on a daily basis, whether it's small or whether you have big gains that day, it all adds up. Keep fighting the good fight. I would also emphasize the power of collaboration. Don't be afraid to seek partnerships with unlikely allies. We have gotten so much farther in our work over the past few years because of collaboration and information sharing. So, look for those unlikely allies and stay optimistic.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

I'm about to go to GrenBiz here in the next week and then Sustainable Brands later in the year. I'm excited about all of the different opportunities that people are working on. I think we have a lot of new opportunities with clean energy, which has huge impacts on the direction of our climate and climate change. Building and construction, and looking at how these opportunities relate throughout society and the improvements that they can make on society. I can't put my finger on one thing. I'm looking forward to hearing about all of these sustainability opportunities coming up at these events. I would say the positive impact that we can have on society regardless of what you're working on. That's what gets me excited.

What is one book you'd recommend sustainability leaders read?

I always come back to a book that I read early on in my career called Fostering Sustainable Behavior: An intro to community based social marketing. This is what my Deb McKenzie Moore and William Smith and it's all about how you can drive sustainable change by eliminating barriers. When you eliminate those barriers, you create new systems and ultimately create new social and cultural norms. I always come back to that book because I think we are learning that you can't just tell people that something is the right thing to do. You have to create meaning behind it to really reinforce it and have it become incorporated into their daily lives and their behaviors. So, I think that book really laid the foundation for that concept and I would refer anyone to check that one out.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work?

I would say my greatest resource is the professional network that I have built. Being in a trade association that has hundreds of members, we have a very vast and wide professional network of people. So, while it's not a single resource, I would encourage everyone to work at building out their professional network. There's not a single challenge or question that comes up that I can't pick up the phone and call someone and get the answer to. So, I don't necessarily have to be an expert, but because of that network that I can tap into the answers are easier to obtain.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work of the Plastics Industry Association?

I would check out our website: I am on Twitter @kholmesrecycles. You can always email me if you have plastics questions: