Environmental Task Force

October 4, 2010

Hello and happy Monday Funday!

So, as I am sure you assumed, I have not gotten the green light to share with you the progress that is being made in recycling thermoforms. I’m sorry.

I do have a plan, however, which may be a win-win for all involved. But again, due to the sensitivity of the information and parties concerned, I can’t divulge my plan right now…but know that I am routing for you, my packaging and sustainability community, and I will do my best to get this information to the industries concerned in a timely manner…

Sooooooo the website for the Sustainable Plastics Packaging conference went live last week, which I am speaking at. Check it out: http://www.sustainableplasticspackaging.com/. Be sure to look at the agenda; I’m on it!

Ok, last Wednesday I went to Woodstock High School for the first meeting of the Environmental Task Force. The ETF is a group of administrative-type folk that discuss and implement various sustainability initiatives at the D200 Schools. This year they are having an energy contest where the different D200 schools (elementary, middle and high school) compete to see who can reduce their energy consumption the most, compared with last years’ consumption. The winner gets some kind of cash prize, which can be reinvested in other cool sustainability initiatives, like an organic garden, solar panels, or whatever.

I was invited to participate in this meeting because I had contacted the assistant to the Superintendent at the beginning of the summer to see how I could get involved and he suggested I start by sitting in on the ETF meeting.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.

Last winter I contacted the City of Woodstock to see what types of packaging materials are recycled in Woodstock and by whom as part of my contextual research on recycling thermoforms. During my conversation with a rep from the City, it was articulated that funding for recycling education had been cut, due to the economy. Consequentially, students were not being taught anything about recycling.

Because I had been studying issues pertaining to waste management for several months and believe that the best way to increase recycling rates is through education, I suggested that I could fill the void left from cutting this program’s funding. Subsequently, the City rep put me in contact with the Superintendent of District 200 schools, who then put me in touch with the Assistant Superintendent. I met with Assistant Superintendent in early summer to introduce myself and what I wanted to do and he invited me to the EFT meeting to introduce me to the rest of the group so we could determine where I would fit best.

And that brings us up to last week, at the ETF meeting.

It was fun going to high school again but it was weird to be seen as on par with the administrative folk and not a student. The other participants of the ETF were the administrators of transportation, health, food, building and construction, the principal, and another guest, from SIEMENS Energy Company.

After we discussed the energy contest, I was introduced, as was the SIEMENS rep. I explained that Dordan is a company in Woodstock that wants to become further involved in the community and sees an opportunity in the context of providing free recycling education. I articulated the desire to present to students about the ABCs of recycling and perhaps help the Green Club implement different waste reduction tactics. With all things considered, I think I was well received for my enthusiasm and my ability to articulate myself well; hopefully I will become more involved in this committee and others at the Woodstock high school as the year unfolds.

The gentlemen from SIEMENS had a really cool story to tell because he works with different public schools to implement energy saving measures in exchange for allowing the students that participate in said efforts a shot at working with Northwestern Students in the implementation of their sustainability initiatives. A sort of big brother relationship, if you will, and certainly a resume booster!

The end of the meeting concluded and I emphasized to the group my eagerness to help the school with its sustainability initiatives in what ever way they see fit. I am going to present to the AP Science class about “sustainability as a career” in addition to whatever else the students are interested in a couple weeks. I will be sure to keep you posted!

That’s all for now, my packaging and sustainability friends.

I have been researching like crazy trying to find market research that proves that visual packaging not only adds to the perceived value of the product, but that “seeing it sells it,” which is attainable only through a plastic packaging medium. AND, I am so tired of hearing about the trials and tribulations of wrap rage (the reported frustration of consumers not being able to open clamshell packaging) that I am finding statistics on paper cuts vs. plastic cuts in the context of emergency room visits and in the process, found that more people injure themselves trying to pry apart frozen food then many more commonly-assumed accidents. Go figure!

See you tomorrow!

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