Q&A with Frederic Perreault, Director of Lab Services at the Cascades R&D Centre

Frederic Perreault, Director of Laboratory Services at the Cascades R&D Centre

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Name: Frederic Perreault
Title: Director of Laboratory Services at the Cascades R&D Centre
Years working for Cascades: 12 years
Office: Cascades R&D Centre, Kingsey Falls, Québec, Canada

Can you describe your work history at Cascades?

My first role with Cascades was as a chemist in 2008. In my early years, I worked with different teams to research and identify ways to optimize the properties of Cascades’ products. Those projects included studying surface properties, formulating barrier coatings and conducting experiments to develop new grades of paper and identify which molecules can achieve a given function. As the years went on, I started taking on various leadership positions and in 2017, I was named Director of Laboratory Services at the Cascades R&D Centre. 

What are your current responsibilities at Cascades PRO?

In my current role, I oversee and work alongside an amazing staff of 65 brilliant scientists, ranging from chemists and microbiologists to engineers and technicians. In addition to working on internal Cascades research and experiments, my team also helps address technical questions from our customers, partners, and chemical suppliers. 

As Director of Laboratory Services, I may not be completely engrained in every product optimization and development project coming in and out of our labs, but I do get exposed to them in one way or another through my team members. That level of exposure to projects across all three business units within Cascades is what makes my job especially fun. There is always something new to explore. 

What do you like most about the work you do at Cascades?

One of the things that I love most about my job is the ability to truly have an impact on everything that comes through our department. I have seen my team come up with plenty of great, innovative ideas and solutions over the years that help our products succeed. To be able to face new challenges every day and come up with solutions to those challenges makes my job at Cascades extremely rewarding. 

Are there any specific projects you are most proud of from the past 12 years?

The project that means the most to me is probably one that dates back to 2008, my first year with the company. I was pulled onto a team that was working to develop a coating to prevent moisture exchange, after hearing that the only supplier of that product was going out of business due to production issues. My team was able to come up with an eco-friendly and more cost-effective coating that generated over $3.1 million in recurring annual savings for the division, which has kept it in business to this day. To know that my team’s work on that project made such an impact is what inspires me to always do my best to find a solution, no matter how difficult the challenge may be. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of the importance of proper hand hygiene to prevent the spread of germs. How important is hand drying to the overall hand hygiene process?

Many people may not realize it, but hand drying is an extremely important part of the hand hygiene process. Bacteria are more easily transmitted from wet hands than they are from dry hands, so any microorganisms that were not removed during hand washing can remain on hands if they aren’t dried fully. Drying your hands with a paper towel not only removes the bacteria-transferring moisture from your hands, but the friction allows the excess microorganisms to be removed as well. Additionally, by using paper towels to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door, you can avoid any possible re-contamination that could happen by touching those surfaces with your bare hands.    

According to your team’s research, which is the more hygienic method of drying hands – paper towels or air dryers?

This is a question that has been up for debate for quite some time. However, many studies have shown that paper towels are the more effective method of drying hands. Because paper towels work through water absorption and mechanical friction and not just an airstream, there is a smaller chance of bacteria or viruses being left on hands and being dispersed into the air. 

Given current concerns about the spread of germs, what do you think the future of public restrooms will look like?

Concerns over the spread of germs due to the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way we view hand hygiene. We recently conducted a consumer survey in the United States that showed that 71% of Americans are more concerned with touching surfaces in public restrooms than before the pandemic started. To best address those concerns, our team expects that we will see facility managers, building owners and retail proprietors incorporating more touchless technology in their restrooms, including toilets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers.

Source: Cascades PRO