10 MEMORIES FROM THE TOMRA TEAM
The team at TOMRA Collections Solutions shares their anecdotes from working at TOMRA. From across the globe and across teams, some have worked here for almost 20 years and some for just a few months – and here are their stories.
Geir Sæther, SVP Reverse Vending Technology (Norway)
"Last summer my family rented a boat and sailed around Croatia. One day, way out in the ocean, we came across a small fishing trawler, and I took a dingy over to see if we could buy some seafood. They had just emptied the nets, so the deck was covered with an amazing array of fresh fish and shrimp. But, in amongst the halibut and conch shells were loads and loads of plastic bottles. That was a real eye-opener. It is a problem we hear a lot about at TOMRA, but I had never seen it for myself. It showed me that we work with something that’s so relevant, and that encouraging people to return and recycle containers is so important for the future of the planet."
Kellie Hayden, Marketing & Communications Manager (United States)
"Growing up, recycling was a way of life in my family. As a kid, I knew to place empty soda cans on the counter and not in the trash, watching them line the kitchen sink until my mom would carefully rinse them out before taking them to be redeemed. My brother and I would often go to the grocery store with her to return those containers, excited to help out and to grocery shop with her afterwards. She would hand me the containers one by one, letting me put them into the TOMRA machines. Fast forward, and my mom was really proud when I began working at TOMRA – not just because of the opportunity, but because she is proud of what we do as a company. She reminds me of this all the time. A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk and I saw 'Mom' pop up on my phone. 'At the grocery store,' the text read. 'New machines look beautiful! So high tech, easy to recycle!' with smiling, dancing emojis scattered throughout. Thanks, Mom – I’m proud of it, too."
Azusa Matsumura, General Manager (Japan)
"I was employee #2 in Japan when TOMRA started here in 2001. It was challenging to develop the business before the eco-conscious era. Few people wanted to hear about reverse vending machines; many people hung up on us. Now the TOMRA solution is known in Japan as a smart system to collect resources and build the circular economy, and I am excited to be in a company leading the Japanese market and inspiring Japanese people and businesses to recycle."
Caroline Lemelin, Operations Manager (Canada)
"At our last customer event, one of our clients told me how much he enjoyed working with different employees from TOMRA; he enjoyed our passion and felt like part of the family when he participated in our customer events. For this year's event, when I followed up on whether he would be present, I remembered our last discussion and asked if he would join his 'family' for golf. He replied that he would be there, and that he couldn't wait to see his 'little sister'. At TOMRA, we have the opportunity to create strong relationships with our customers, partners and of course our colleagues. This family spirit is very important for me and generates a lot of fun and laughter, but also support during challenges. And that’s priceless!"
Rene Hissink, Senior VP W&S Europe (Netherlands)
"I love to share the story of a T-200 reverse vending machine that we installed at a supermarket here in The Netherlands in 1989 – because it’s still in operation. That’s 28 years old, and in perfect working order! It makes me proud to work in a company making top-quality products that are built to last. Though, on the other hand, we have pretty great innovations from recent years that I’d love to introduce to them!"
Stéphanie Jacob, Assistant Accountant (Canada)
"I remember the day that TOMRA contacted me to ask if I would be interested in coming to work for them. My first thought was 'Oh no, the commute is going to be painful.' Later on, I thought to myself, why not take the chance and see what happens? It was the best decision I ever made! From the first day, I felt that I was already part of this great team. Every day, my team is enthusiastic, listening to others and always ready to innovate and go further. Thank you to TOMRA for making me leave behind the 'good old slippers' of my comfort zone!"
Zara Lauder, Communication Manager (Norway)
"When I first came to Norway, I was working for a non-profit student organization and we had a very low salary. I had never been part of a region with a deposit return scheme on bottles and cans, and was super impressed at how much money you got back – no wonder everyone here recycles! We often hosted house-parties with our fellow students, and if you went cheap on snacks (which we had to) and everyone brought their own drinks, you could actually turn a profit on all the empties left over the next day. Who knew that a decade later I would start working for the company making the machines where we returned our recycling."
Étienne Fleury, Sales Manager (Canada)
"The company knows when it’s time to take a break and offers the opportunity to all employees to have a good time together, and on more than one occasion. This is something I didn’t see in the big multinationals I worked for before. Each activity is always different and original, creating anecdotes at every opportunity. I particularly remember the game where we would run like madmen, in a large field, trying to tear off the scarves we had at our sides."
Sharleen Chen, Supply Chain Manager (China)
"I joined the company in 2010 when TOMRA decided to invest in China, and I was employee #4 . At that time, I knew nothing about reverse vending machines – and neither did society in China. When we introduced our product to local partners, they always said, 'It's a good product, but it is not suitable for the Chinese market.' But, nowadays, people’s opinions have changed. Businesses, the government and citizens all think about how to protect our environment. When we talk to local partners now, they all feel excited and believe reverse vending machines will be very popular for growing reuse and recycling of beverage containers in China. TOMRA China now is an important market, and we have more than 150 employees. That’s why I like TOMRA: it represents the future, and working in a company that has a promising future role is so motivating."
Alicia Olynciw, Service Support Administrator (United States)
"TOMRA has helped produce wonderful memories for me and my family for years. As a kid, my grandmother would take me to the grocery store to help her return her bottles and cans. Now, with my own child, we share the same experience in recycling together while supporting the company I work for. He is so proud to make it known that his mother works for TOMRA. In my nine years at TOMRA, the company has been very gracious to me by providing me with an incomparable work-life balance, allowing me to grow as an employee as well as enjoy my role as a mother. My son and I are both very proud that I work for TOMRA, and we look forward to continuing recycling together and contributing to TOMRA’s success!"