Recap # 3: SPC meeting

April 29, 2010

Greetings my packaging and sustainability friends!

Guess what: I have a meeting with our City Official on Monday to determine what the economics are governing waste management in our region (Woodstock, IL). After all, municipalities are the bodies that dictate to haulers like Waste Management what materials should be recovered post-consumer. If we want to figure out why non-bottle rigids (clamshells) are not recycled in our region, perhaps we should talk with those who determine what materials should be collected in the first place!

Before I get ahead of myself (I still have to summarize all my recent findings about non-bottle rigid recycling and PET recycling via the American Chemistry Council’s research), shall I recap my experiences from the SPC meeting in Boston last week?

Well, Boston itself is a BEAUTIFUL city; it is the most “European-like” city I have been to in the States. Like Chicago, Boston has lots of classic architecture juxtaposed with modern, glass and steel structures, which makes for a very aesthetically interesting skyline.

ohhhhh

The lonnnggeesttttt building

Historic!

While there, I went to my first professional hockey game: The Bruins in the first game of the playoffs! It was totally radical! Very barbaric and hedonistic, with all the fighting, cheering, eating and drinking; I now know why it is one of America’s favorite past-times!

Hurray!

The spring conference for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition was okay. Granted the volcanic eruption made it difficult for several international speakers to attend—thereby making SPC staff scramble to find new speakers last minute—the content of the presentations was still a little “fluffy,” in my opinion. Perhaps my disappointment with the content can also be attributed to the fact that the only other SPC conference I attended marks the beginning of my career at Dordan. Consequentially, all the information presented at that conference was super new and exciting and I acted as a sponge, sucking it all up. Because I have been doing nothing but researching since the fall SPC conference, maybe my understanding of “sustainability” has reached an elevation that requires increasingly technical presentations in order to satiate my appetite. That being said, I did learn several things from the presenters.

The first presentation I sat in on titled “Using the SPC’s Indicators and Metrics Framework” discussed how to use the SPC’s metrics for sustainable packaging in the procurement of LCA and LCI data. It appears as though these metrics can be used to determine life cycle inventory data for certain processes, thereby helping to establish a base line for companies such as ours to measure sustainability improvements upon. This is what I learned:

  • “Gate-to-gate” means the environmental inputs (energy, water, etc.) and outputs (greenhouse gas equivalent emissions) required/emitted during the production of extruded roll stock through the conversion phase for the manufacture of thermoformed packages. In other words, data that pertains to Dordan’s operations of ownership i.e. the roll stock we buy to convert to thermoformed packages. You dig?
  • “Cradle-to-gate” means the inputs and outputs required/emitted during the raw material extraction. This term can also extend further throughout the supply chain i.e. to the converter or CPG company. Basically, it is a designated point along the supply chain that aids those in the procurement of LCI data.
  • “LCI” means life cycle inventory data and it takes into consideration the inputs and outputs required/emitted throughout the entire life cycle of a product/material/etc. This is organizational-specific data and is concerned primarily with the environmental profiles of PROCESSES i.e. extrusion, conversion, fulfillment, etc.
  • Eco-invent is a free LCA database; however, many LCA databases are proprietary and costly to gain subscription tooL.
  • At least three different LCI data entries are required to validate the industry average data (LCA)…this is confusing to me, too.

Because of the “rules” governing the conference, I am unable to provide the name of the presenter/speaker or the company/organization that he/she represents.

That being said, the key note speaker for the conference was speaking on behalf of a very prominent NGO dedicated to the environment. This speaker gave a very insightful but somber presentation on how our world’s current approaches to production and consumption are NOT sustainable; not even close. According to this presentation, “the current demand for the Earth’s resources is 1.25 times what scientists believe our plant can sustain. And by the way, that’s with 6 billion people—not the 9 billion world population predicted by mid-century.” The main argument of this presentation was that we need to increase the production on our already-producing land (land for agriculture) while not further depleting our natural resource reserves (water, top soil, biotic resources, etc.). Basically, we need to be much smarter and innovate in order to continue utilizing our land for the production of food. This argument curtailed on another, which was further explicated in a latter seminar titled “Bio-material Procurement;” in a nut shell, we should not use our already strained agricultural land to grow materials like corn for the feedstock of the next generation of bio-based polymers because this land is already required for the production of FOOD for our ever-growing and consuming population.

WOW, I have already rattled a lot. How about I stop for today and continue to expand on the conference in tomorrow’s post.

Thanks for listening!

Oh, and just for fun, here are some pcitures of a Bostonian street performer and our Sales Manager, so eager to assist!

Juggling mean things

Ha! Go Aric!

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