Day 29: Nov. 30th, 2009

March 22, 2010

Happy Monday Funday! Sorry I didn’t post on Friday—I actually had a presentation at one of our customers’ company about packaging and sustainability and then I got sick! My tongue was green and had these giant balls at the back of the throat, which was super weird. It turns out I have had a low-grade infection for two weeks, ug! This working full time+moving+having a social life is really starting to take its toll. I got quite the lecture from my boss/father about “burning the candle at both ends” so basically if I miss another day because I am sick I get in super duper trouble. Yikes!

Shall we resume our recycling narrative?

Several days later I received an email from Robert Carlson of the CA EPA:

Chandler,

I may or may not have mentioned to you that my wife is a career counselor and she does some work with “Green Careers”.  Well, she is doing something right now about “infusing green” into your job.  Basically what to do to make what is typically not a “Green” job into a green job. 

I thought of you, an account executive at a plastics manufacturing company working to green the company!  Perfect fit, right?  Plus I thought you told me that you sort of created the position of sustainability director yourself…So how much more “take charge” can you get, right?

Anyway, she may be contacting you to ask you a few questions about how you went about it, things you thought worked well and things you found challenging (or something…I’m not really sure where she’ll be going) if that’s alright.

Wow! Rad! Someone wants to interview me about my work at Dordan? SPLENDID!

I spoke with Robert’s wife later that day; she is a doll!

Hey!

I just got off the phone with your wife; she has a lovely phone personality! Our conversation got cut off, however, as my phone interviewed called in. I asked if she wanted me to provide her with an abstract, per se, of our conversation and she agreed. The email she provided, however, may not actually be her email, as it sort of got jumbled in the end. If you could see that she gets the following abstract, I would really appreciate it.

How Dordan is “infusing” green into our company:

I work for a mid-western based, custom-design thermoformer of plastic non-food packaging. Currently, no plastic packaging is recycled in the US, aside from PET beverage bottles. I am working with various contacts at WM to find an end-of-life market for our plastic packaging materials. This is an on-going effort, and having spoken with the Environmental Director at Starbucks who implemented a pilot recycling program for their paper cups in several NY Starbucks’ stores, I am finding it increasingly difficult to create a new recycling market, as the economics don’t seem to support it. In other words, there are many people one needs to get on board to ensure a new end-of-market for materials not currently recycled, and I don’t believe that we have the power to make those various players participate without some kind of incentive on their part. Regardless, I am committed to finding a way to reuse or recycled our plastic packages. It can be done; it just has not been done. Hopefully through the vehicle of supply chain collaboration we will be able to create either a new market for our packages post-consumer or integrate our PET packages into the existing PET bottle recycling infrastructure.

I am also working with various representatives from greenerpackage.com in regard to their packaging supplier database, which is intended to eliminate green-washing. I feel as though this web-site is committed to sustainability in packaging and I look forward to my continued involvement with them.

I persuaded my company to become a subscriber to the Sustainable Packaging Coalitions’ comparative LCA assessment tool COMPASS, which has legitimate, third-party peer reviewed LCIA data for various packaging materials, conversion processes, and end-of-life treatment. This tool allows us to determine the green house gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption, etc. of packaging, therefore informing our engineering/R&D teams with the data necessary to design packages that have less of a burden on the environment than packages currently on the market.

Our manufacturing facility has made various sustainable efforts to reduce our processes burden on the environment. One such effort concerns revamping the lights in our factory to consume less energy that the previous lighting. We also regrind our own scrap and sell it back to our material suppliers. I am also investigating a grant for wind-power.

I got my degree in religious ethics with a concentration in social justice and ethics from DePaul University, which has informed how I understand/interpret claims of ethical considerations via the environment. While at times it is discouraging to discover peoples’  true motivation for making green claims, there are those who are genuinely committed to being “green,” outside of any capitalistic endeavor (as in the case with your husbandJ). I hope I did not come off too cynical; I just want to emphasize while everyone wants to do better by the environment, few are willing to pay for it themselves.

I hope this helps. If you have any other questions or comments, please do not hesitate to ask. I hope you are enjoying your job as a career counselor, even in these difficult times.

Best,

Chandler Slavin

Well that was fun!

Tune in tomorrow to learn more about recycling in America!

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