Olivia Sweeney, female chemical engineer

Olivia Sweeney

Fragrance Finder. Chemical engineer at Resource Futures.

Female chemical engineer in aroma laboratory
Chemicals being pipetted in workshop
Pink bathbombs
Female chemical engineer in cosmetics workshop

I’ve always been interested in sustainability and wanted to work for a company passionate about the environment. Sick of feeling small compared to the size of the global sustainability challenge, I decided that being an engineer was the best way to make an impact.

 

Reduce, reuse, recycle - I grew up hearing these words since primary school and am passionate about creating a waste-free world. My house was a blend of science and art thanks to my parents, and I did A-Levels in Music and English Literature as well as Maths and Chemistry. Doing a degree in Chemical Engineering allowed me to follow my passion for sustainable choices in a tangible way. My degree also helped me travel, doing internships in Sweden and Pakistan and helping a Scottish company become energy neutral. After completing my degree, I started working for Lush. Working there and sourcing and creating their chemicals in a sustainable way has given me the power to make a difference.

 

I became an Aroma Chemicals Creative Buyer, sourcing and creating the natural and synthetic chemicals for fragrances of Lush’s soaps, bath bombs, shampoo bars… and everything else! I got to travel abroad, across Europe, Brazil and the USA to find the best materials and ingredients.

 

One of my projects was figuring out the best way to process waste banana skins, not only getting the perfect banana smell, but in a sustainable and responsible way. I have helped to create a banana facial cleanser that is now be on shelves worldwide! I looked for ways to save energy and water in the making process while also making sure that the ingredients I work with are ethically sourced and cruelty free. Chemical engineering has allowed me to explore new ways of making the world sustainable and reducing waste for a greener planet.

 

Music is still one of my hobbies, and I continue to play alongside my studies and now my job. For me, chemical engineering means you can end up creating anything based on your own curiosity. Engineers are part of the modern world and help make dreams become reality with their problem-solving skills.

I now work as Junior Consultant for a sustainable waste consultancy - Resource Futures. My passion and interest for the circular economy led me to this role. I work within the evidence team - working out in the field to collect accurate and representative data around peoples habits, behaviours and interactions with waste to help inform decisions in both the public and private sector. The aims always being to reduce waste, increase recycling and help build more circular systems. 

Where to next?

Find out more about how you can turn what you love into engineering, and what a future in engineering could look like, by exploring the links below. And if you have a question or comment, get in touch, we’d be happy to help!