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Zeynab Yousefzadeh Joins Our Team with Diverse Skills, Mining Sustainability Accomplishments

Trained in materials engineering and industrial management, Zeynab helped a major Middle Eastern clay company utilize former waste materials in new products

EarthShift Global is glad to welcome our new junior sustainability analyst, Zeynab Yousefzadeh, who brings to us a unique combination of engineering, management, and data skills, and a record of successfully advancing sustainability in a mining-oriented industrial organization.

That organization, Iran China Clay Industries Co., is a major supplier of Kaolin (white clay) to a range of industries across the Middle East. Zeynab joined it in 2005 after earning a materials engineering degree from the University of Tabriz. She quickly began applying her skills to help better integrate the organization’s sales and production departments while also spotting opportunities for waste reduction that could help build new business lines.

“Traditionally most of the business was in a few conventional materials that had been in production for a long time. But with increasing competition and changing markets there was more need for raw materials in new applications,” recounts Zeynab. She was promoted to head up Sales Engineering; to help track customers’ needs, she developed spreadsheets that evolved into the basis for a CRM platform for the company. Her responsibilities included finding solutions to customers’ technical issues, developing new applications for existing products, and collaborating with the production department to give products new features that could meet customers’ needs.

In the course of that work and earning a master’s degree in Industrial Management, Zeynab says she “became more and more interested in recycling and environmental considerations. It was very exciting for me to work on ways of selling different products and byproducts and make money from things that were going to waste. More significantly, it could also prevent extracting more raw materials.”

Accomplishments included utilizing lower-grade clay that had to be removed to reach deeper higher-grade material; the lower-grade clay’s different colors proved useful in producing face brick for buildings. She also helped integrate into paint production fine high-quality clay that was a byproduct of processing and had not previously been collected. But the largest advance was her R&D contribution to adopting silica sand waste for making aerated autoclaved concrete (AAC). This type of brick is an increasingly popular lightweight material with a number of sustainability advantages for building construction, especially in areas with high temperature variation.

“After moving to Canada in 2016 I wanted to find ways of applying my engineering background in sustainability fields,” notes Zeynab. “So, I became involved in sustainability-related projects, like interning in a recycling campaign at McGill University’s Art Hive and volunteering for two months in Ethiopia’s Institution for Sustainable Development (learn more at https://www.isd-bio.org/about-...).

Between 2019 and 2021, under the supervision of Dr. Shannon Lloyd, Zeynab earned a second Master’s degree at Montreal’s Concordia University; her thesis was on Prospective Life Cycle Assessment in Surface Engineering. In her research she served as an LCA analyst for Green Surface Engineering for Advanced Manufacturing, leading several full-scale comparative environmental LCAs and receiving Concordia’s Sustainability Research Award for her project, Dissemination of Life Cycle Assessment Methods to Surface Engineering Researchers.

In addition to her sustainability engineering work, Zeynab writes environmentally focused articles for MÉDAD Persian E-magazine of Montréal and has also developed a series of outdoors videos with her partner Hani Sadati.

We’re proud to have her on our team and look forward to her contributions.