Women in Plastics Announces Line-up for GRIPS 2021 Virtual Conference

Women in Plastics is delighted to announce the line-up for its panel discussion at GRIPS 2021, a virtual conference, exhibition and showcase that will be held online from 16th– 18th March 2021.

GRIPS, which stands for Global Research and Innovation in Plastics Sustainability, is hosted by the UK Circular Plastics Network, organised by KTN and supported by Innovate UK, EPSRC and UKRI. The three-day event, which is expected to bring together over 1,000 delegates from across all industries, will also feature 50 innovation and research-driven exhibitors on a virtual show floor. Attendees can learn about initiatives and developments striving to make plastics less likely to reach landfills, end up incinerated or become fugitive in the environment.

Women in Plastics will be hosting its own panel discussion: ‘Women leading in Sustainability in the Plastics Industry,’ on 17th March at 15:30-16:30 GMT.

The online conference will see three guest speakers, Katherine White BSc (Commercial Director of Plastribution), Kirsty Wood (Development Technologist & Sustainability Lead for HEXPOL TPE) and Dr. Anthea Blackburn (Team Leader at Econic Technologies), discuss the different sustainability routes into their careers and how their companies are leading the way.


Katherine is the Commercial Director at Plastribution, one of the UK’s leading polymer distributors. She was appointed to the company’s board of directors in 2011, making her the first female to have ever done so.

Katherine has a BSc in polymer science from Coventry University and has been with the company for 25 years.

Her primary focus is the thermoplastics side of the business, where she works closely with the product group, sales, marketing, operations and finance teams. She also provides a regular interface with multiple supplier partners.

Katherine has been involved with the woman-in-plastics initiative since 2019 and has been proactive in its support since.


Kirsty Wood has worked in the Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) industry for 9 years and is based in Manchester. In her role as Development Technologist & Sustainability Lead for HEXPOL TPE, she works on the development of progressive TPE compounds that meet new and emerging market demands and leads the team efforts in working sustainably.

This mostly involves looking at materials and low carbon alternatives to traditional polymers, working with customers to select and develop the right material for their project and working on various aspects of reducing the site’s environmental impact. She’s particularly excited about circular-economy principles and eager to see what the coming years will bring as we businesses engage to deliver on the promise to keep global warming well below 2°C.

HEXPOL TPE is an international polymer compounding group specialising in TPE for key industries such as consumer, medical, personal care, automotive and construction. They were among the first companies to produce TPEs in Europe.

You can catch Kirsty Wood’s talk ‘How do TPEs fit into a Circular Economy’ on 17th March between 15:30-16:30 GMT.

Econic Technologies

Dr. Anthea Blackburn is a Team Leader at Econic Technologies, a UK-based company that offers an innovative catalyst technology that allows for the tailored incorporation of carbon dioxide in polymer manufacture, replacing up to 50% of traditional oil-based raw materials for application in the plastics industry.

Upon completing her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Northwestern University in the US, Anthea moved to the UK and has spent the past five years at Econic. During this time, she has worked across and led multiple areas of the technical side of the business, from catalyst discovery and process development to new polymer product evaluation. In addition, she also manages the company’s PR activities and profile within the industry and has written a range of thought pieces about the importance of CCU adoption within the plastics industry.

The last part of the online conference will be dedicated to a Q&A session, which is not to be missed!

To register your attendance at GRIPS 2021, please click here

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