It was not until the fall of 2009 that Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc. discovered that thermoformed packaging—like the clamshells, blisters, trays and components it manufactures—are not recycled in 60% or more of American communities; therefore, could not be considered “recyclable” according to the FTC Green Guides’ definition. Upon this realization, Dordan aggressively tried to uncover the obstacles keeping thermoformed plastic packaging out of the recovery system, with the hope that in understanding the problem, the industry could develop solutions.

Recycling in America is a day-by-day description of our attempts to uncover the complexities surrounding recycling in America. Dowload our Recycling Report, which discusses the true state of blister/clamshell recycling in America with suggestions for industry. This report is the compilation of a year’s research, as described in detail in the first half of our Recycling in America blog.

As our blog reaches its 1 year anniversary and our knowledge about recycling has evolved, so have our efforts to recycling thermoformed packaging. Now, instead of acting in isolation, our efforts are joined by stakeholders throughout the supply chain. This collaboration, based on the shared desire to increase the diversion rate of thermoform packaging post consumer, motivates Dordan to work towards a more environmentally robust vision for plastic packaging: From its own manufacturing processes and distribution channels to the well being of its employees and community, Dordan takes pride in its integrated, systems-based approach to sustainability.

Visit our blog today to learn about many issues pertaining to packaging and sustainability! Topics discussed, but not limited to, include: contemporary packaging trends, life cycle analysis, sustainable packaging metrics, extended producer responsibility, bio-based resins, green washing, end-of-life managment, and much, much more! Also narrated is Dordan’s journey to sustainability, which includes: how-to build a composter, start an organic garden, and get involved in the community!

Thanks for your interest in Dordan Manufacturing and sustainable packaging!

About Dordan Manufacturing:

Dordan specializes in providing custom design thermoformed packaging solutions to the consumer goods and electronics industries. Family owned and operated since 1962, Dordan has a long-standing reputation of package engineering and manufacturing excellence. This is the result of innovative package designs coupled with thought leadership status and a keen understanding of how our packaging can sell your products.

Visit www.dordan.com for more information!

Author Bio:

The author of Recycling in America is Dordan’s Sustainability Coordinator and Marketing Director, Chandler Slavin. Chandler was employed at Dordan in the fall of 2009 after graduating summa cum laude from DePaul University with a degree in Ethics and Social Justice. Her industry-wide initiatives at Dordan include: Working with Walmart-Canada’s PET Subcommittee of the Material Optimization Committee to increase the diversion rate of PET packaging; serving as the primary contact to the Sustainable Packaging Coalition; subscribing to the SPC’s LCA packaging modeling software, COMPASS; participating in Walmart/Sam’s Clubs’ Sustainable Value Network; contributing blog content to Walmart’s closed-portal website, SupplierHub.com; and, speaking at industry conferences like Sustainable Plastics Packaging and Sustainability in Packaging. Chandler’s Dordan-centric sustainability efforts include: Making Dordan a zero-waste facility; working with District 200 schools to educate students about recycling; and, arranging for a farmer to use a portion of Dordan’s land in spring 2011 for the production of organics for the Woodstock community in hopes of preserving its longstanding culture of locally-sourced products.

13 Responses to “About”

  1. Hi Chandler,

    I am a packaging science grad student at the Rochester Institute of Technology and I am doing research related to packaging sustainability. I recently began to research the recyclability of thermoformed PET so I was delighted to come across your blog which has tons of useful information about your quest to uncover the truth about this topic which is so complex and often misunderstood.

    I too come from a family of plastic manufacturers (mostly injection molding) so I understand your personal investment in this area. I just wanted to say hi and keep up the good work. I’m anxiously anticipating your next installments.

    Best,

    Fabi Kotoriy

    • Hey!

      Wow, thank you so much for your kind words. I am so glad that people are actually interested in this stuff–I try to make it as much like a narrative as I can. I am running into some problems, however, because most of the information I have received from my various contacts come in the form of emails, which apparently, a lot of people are uncomfortable with sharing in the public space. I am trying to be tactful and speak the truth without having people be angry at me.

      Where is your school located? I have an undergrad in Religious Ethics, which is far from packaging and sustainability. I am actually looking into Masters Programs to help better understand the many dimesions of packaging and sustainability…

      Anyway, what are your plans for after graduation? Do you live anywhere near Boston? The Sustainable Packaging Coalition is having their spring meeting, which is open to non-members, too. I don’t know the associated fees, but it would be a great networking oppurtunity for you and it would be great to get a cocktail!

      Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you soon!

      Best,

      Chandler

  2. Chandler,

    I just found your blog and what I have read so far is very interesting and exciting. I am a thermoforming and sheet extrusion consultant in the thin gage and packaging industry and currently hold workshops for SPE and other organizations worldwide. I am doing my best in my presentations to include as much as possible on sustainability and recycling and many of my customers are making efforts to “Green” their products and processes. Although I am extremely busy, I will be checking out your blog from time to time and will throw in comments here and there as I am sure I will learn a lot from you.

    I am seeing a very definite move from PVC to APET in the packaging industry which as you know is mostly due to pressure from the Walmarts etc of the world and spend a lot of my consulting time helping customers to adapt their machinery and processes to the change from PVC to APET, RPET, PETG, PETGAG, etc. One problem we are having with the use of bottle scrap (pre-forms) is that many of the APET bottles are used for juices where a barrier is required and thus EVOH is introduced which causes havoc with the extrusion and thermoforming process. It is impossible to detect the presence of EVOH in PET bottles with the naked eye and as far as I understand, the visual systems at the waste management facilities do not detect it either.
    Well enough rambling for now.
    Keep up the great blog

    Mark

  3. We have an application for a pasta preformed tray from APET with thin layer PE/EVOH/PE lamination.
    What SPI code should be labeled on the tray.

    Many colleagues tell me number 1 is acceptable due to the low weight ratio of the lamination.

    Any thoughts?

  4. Hi Chandler.

    Recoup (Recycling of Used Plastics Limited) is the UK’s leading authority on plastics packaging
    waste management, providing expertise and guidance to a wide range of clients and members
    across the plastics supply, use and disposal chain. http://www.recoup.org

    I have just seen the report on clam shell and blister recycling. This was sent to me by a Belgian colleage, An Vossen, from EPRO (www.epro-plasticsrecycling.info). There is alot of consumer and polical pressure in the UK to collect non bottle plastic packaging for recycling. Many of the issues we face are similar to those you have noted. One of the key concerns is the decreasing quality of bottles due to mixed plastic contamination. Happy to share more detailed information, particularly if we are dealing with the same issues. I would also be interested in refining your report into a case study for us to share with UK stakeholders and to put on our website. By the end of November, the latest Recoup UK plastic recycling survey will be released, showing 84 of an estimated 400 local authorities providing kerbside collection services for bottles AND other plastics packaging. Yet the handling and end market opportunities are unclear despite government proposals to ramp up plastics packaging recycling targets over the next 10 years. These are interesting times for plastics recycling and either directly, or through EPRO, we should try to share more information.

    Stuart
    Recoup

    • Hey!

      Thanks for the comment–awesome stuff! I would love to chat to see how we could both be of value to one another. Perhaps we could arrange a conference call? Let me know!

      And I apologize for the tardy reply– I have been busy preparing for my presentation for Sustainable Plastics Packaging 2010, where I discussed my research on recycling. It was a success!

      Best,

      Chandler

  5. Stuart Foster said

    Sounds good. We are trying to get projects completed before Christmas, so conference call in January would be good – as long as we can judge the time difference! Send me an email and I will repond with my full contact details and possible dates for a call. In the meantime, we have now released this years UK document, which can be freely d/l from our website.
    Kind regards, and have a good christmas,
    Stuart.

  6. Claudia Hertzog said

    Hi Chandler – I work for Waste Management’s Organic Growth Group, and we look at new technology in the waste and recycling industry to better capture the value in the waste stream. Right now I’m looking at the potential for PET Thermoform recycling, and I see you have done quite a bit of research in this area. I’d love to talk more about that with you, perhaps you could email me with the best way to get in touch?

    Thanks,

    Claudia

  7. Tom Padberg said

    Hello Chandler

    My name is Tom Padberg. I live in the UK. I am researching recycling and was wondering what/if there is a plan in place for recycling in the US in a large scale? Is there still a big market there for a new start-up recycling businesses? I was told that mainly landfills are still used. Is this still the case? Or is recycling a big industry now? From reading your blod obviously there still is a huge lack of recycling.

    If you wouldn’t mind sending me any information you have that would be great, or any contacts that I could speak to.

    Many thanks

    Tom Padberg

    • Hey Tom!

      Thanks for your question and I apologize for the delayed response.

      Yes, there is a huge market for recycling in America. While we have a nation-wide infrastructure for post-consumer recycling, it fluxuates from region to region insofar as what materials are collected, how they are collected, where they are resold, what they become, etc. is concerned. What we are seeing now is dialogue around EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) and VPR (Voluntary Producer Responsibility), which looks to shift the responsibility of financing the recovery of packaging materials from the municipalities/tax payers to the producers. Systems like this exist in the UK and elsewhere i.e. Fost Plus system of Belgium. There have been several successful businesses that help developed to meet this need for the economic management of recycling, like TerraCycle. While landfills are still used in America as that has historically been the most economical way to manage “garbage,” emphasis is now being placed on recovering packaging materials because: increased demand for recycled material by brand owners for incorporation into products and packaging; increased pressure from environmentalists and consumers alike for more and better recycling; and, a volatile raw materials market, to name just a few drivers of recycling.

      Let me know if there is more information I can provide in these regards!

  8. Ann Hoffner said

    Hi, Chandler,
    My interest in plastic and recycling is recent. I came upon your blog as I was researching the plastic box container industry, specifically what is being done in the way of recycling and what are the prospects for the future. I seem to have hit the right spot with your blog!
    I’m interested in making the case for sustainability for boxes, and wondering if you have any figures on what percentage of a successfully recycled plastic water bottle actually goes into a new one? Would seem relevant in thinking about how much oil we can afford to devote to plastic packaging and still be sustainable when using recycles plastics to make new packaging.
    Thanks,
    Ann Hoffner

    • Hey Ann!

      Thanks for your comment and sorry for the delay! Glad you found my blog!

      I suggest you look into the recycling efforts carried out by Tetra Pak and its competitors; they formed an alliance aimed at developing a post-consumer recycling stream for their composite carton packaging. They provide a great example of how packages that are not currently recycled can become so with the proper investment.

      I do not have any figures on what % of successfully recycled plastic water bottles go into “second generation” plastic bottles. I do know, however, that some bottle manufacturers are operating within a “closed loop” system, which means they remanufacturer the original bottles into 100% PCR PET bottles.

      Please let me know if you have further questions! Sorry I couldn’t be too much a help; just keep digging!

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