Day 6: Oct. 17, 2009

January 28, 2010

So it turns out that if you click on the graphs (from yesterday’s post) you can see a full screen image of the graphs, which should clarify any confusion created by the fuzzy images; hurray for technology or what not.

Anyway where am I? Oh, that’s right; I had the brain child of spear-heading an industry led initiative that looks to reclaim our packages post-consumer. Grand.

I remember arriving to the office on Oct. 19th and not really knowing where I wanted to go with this recycling initiative…I was still really new at Dordan so I had the luxury of researching what ever I thought was pertinent to my role as the Sustainability Coordinator. As I opened my inbox I was quite relieved to have a message waiting for me from Robert Carlson; perhaps he would provide some direction…


That sounds like an exciting initiative!  I’m actually interested to know a bit more about what you’re planning on doing, who in industry you’re planning on getting to help you, and whether you’re planning on tapping into the PET stream from beverage containers or if you’re hoping to start a new market for non-beverage container PET flake. 

Do you know about NAPCOR (National Association for PET Container Resources)?  It’s based here in California and I know the Director if you need an introduction.

Exciting stuff!!  Oh and BTW, it’s our first big storm of the season, so the wind is howling, the rain pouring down and the power has already been off in the office this morning once…

Hope you’re enjoying things in Illinois!!  Snowing there yet?

Hmmmm, I thought to myself…who in the industry am I planning on getting to help me

…do my brothers count?

Shall I attempt to integrate our packages into the PET stream from beverage containers or do I want to start a new market for non-beverage container PET flake? I just don’t know…

All of a sudden I felt very silly; I hadn’t even asked myself these questions yet. I was simply swept away by what I thought was a splendid idea; it didn’t occur to me, however, that I had NO IDEA how to logistically and economically implement it.

Well, we all got to start somewhere, right? I was still on a high from being crowned the MVP of the religious studies department at DePaul and graduating Summa Cum Laude; I thought I could do anything if I simply put my thinking cap on. Heck, I told myself, I had written a 50 page thesis on Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, which, might I add, is no small feat; how hard can it be to learn the ABC’s of recycling?

Motivated by my own ego, I sent Robert the following email:

Hey Robert,

Thanks for the quick reply. So far our recycling program initiative is in its infancy insofar as it is only a theoretical idea that we have been researching how to implement. We have a contact at Microsoft that introduced the idea to us, and we are considering engaging with as many material converters in the Midwest as there are available. I have been researching grant opportunities and am waiting on approval from my superior before I approach the SPC with the project initiativ

In regard to your question: I am planning on starting a new market for non-beverage container PET flake i.e. thermoformed packages, because that is what we manufacture and are consequentially responsible for. just covered the pilot recycling program launched in several Starbucks stores in New York to reclaim their paper cups and I assume a similar program could be initiated by material converters in the Mid West.

Thank you for suggesting the NAPCOR—in all my academic research on recycling I had yet to stumble on this trade association. I would love to take you up on your offer to introduce me to NAPCOR’s director! Please provide his/her contact information at your earliest convenience.



The contact at Microsoft I was referring to was this gentleman I met at the SPC meeting in Atlanta; he had a catchy marketing slogan for if we were able to find a way to reclaim and recycle our packages: “Our packages are made out of our competitor’s packages.” Awesome, I thought to myself when he told me. Now all we got to do is find a way to reclaim and recycle our packages; swell!

After lunch that day, I received the following email from Robert:


I’ve sent an email to Dennis at NAPCOR, introducing him to what you’re looking to do and asking him if it’s something he’d be interested in/chatting with you.  I find it works a bit better to speak with him first myself and then making the introductions, rather than setting you up blindly to make a cold call.

I’ll let you know what I hear.  In the meantime (if you haven’t already found them) their website is

I’m glad you guys are taking such a proactive role in pursuing this kind of product stewardship role.  Starbucks has also been out in front with their packaging and I’ve been working with them on overcoming the technical and logistical obstacles as well as the sociological challenges.  I wish you well in your efforts and please feel free to use me as a resource, or as a sounding board.


Wow, I thought to myself…this could be really great. Tune in tomorrow to see what happens next (I am still brainstorming on a signing off phrase…let me know if you come up with anything that is better than “tune in next time,” which, if you are not from the 1950s, should not be hard to do).

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