Hey! Today’s post is going to be a hodgepodge of miscellaneous updates, enjoy!

As you may recall from previous posts, I have been in dialogue with Ryan Hunt, Direct of R&D at ALGIX, LLC, re: algae-plastics, since last year’s Pack Expo. As previously alluded to, I was interested in adding the firm’s “algae-plastic” to Dordan’s Bio Resin Show N Tell, first unveiled at Pack Expo 2010. To my delight, said intention was met with Dordan thermoforming the first-ever sample of ALGIX’s algae/PP blend, to be displayed at Pack Expo in Chicago, at McCormick Place, October 28th-31st. I strongly encourage you to visit this blog post, which describes the technology of synthesizing “algae plastics” from aquatic biomass, a waste product of many industries, like textiles and dairy.

Check out this PlasticsToday.com article, describing the collaboration between ALIGX and Dordan; it is also described in this Plastics Technology article and this GreenerPackage.com editorial. Love me my free press!

This year’s Bio Resin Show N Tell also features OCTAL’s DPET, which stands for “direct-PET” and intends to connote the energy-saving production process (when compared with standard APET). Lastly, Oshenite’s renewable calcium carbonate (oolitic aragonite), trademarked by U.S Aragonite Enterprises, will be joining the Bio Resin Show N Tell family; this material is a unique version of calcium carbonate in that its feedstock is annually renewable. Click here for more details.

At Pack Expo Dordan will also be performing COMPASS demonstrations (educating attendees about the software and its functionality for packaging designers and brand owners alike) and Walmart Scorecard Modeling consultation (describing the metrics of the Software and how one designs packages to get a better Score), explaining how these tools are utilized in Dordan’s 4-Step Design for Sustainability Process as per the Go Phone package reduction and Tom Tom package redesign case studies.

Last but not least, Dordan introduces a NEW exhibit for those interested in how package design, manufacturing, and shelf impact intersect in the packaging developmental process at Dordan. Streaming 3D Package Design Modeling Videos from YouTube, attendees will see how the thermoforming process is at the forefront—not an afterthought—of Dordan package design. By understanding the limitations and capabilities inherent in the art of thermoforming, Dordan designs packaging that optimizes the conversion and fulfillment process, facilitating smart packaging and smarter packaging systems.

This sounds more complicated than it really is; let me contextualize.

You may recall some time ago I published “Consumer Market Research Report: How Package Design Dictates Product Sales, ‘Seeing it Sells it!’” via Packaging World’s New Issue Alert E-blast sponsorship. This is available for download here. Anyway, this Report described contemporary consumer market research, insofar as how package design can either help or hinder product sales. For instance, a poorly designed package may convey sentiments of tackiness, which the consumer inadvertently ascribes to the brand; contrarily, a well-designed and attractive package can communicate quality product and enhance brand loyalty. Additionally, studies have found that transparent packaging, which allows the consumer to instantly identify their needs being met by the product, increases product sales by reducing the time spent considering the competition and facilitating increased impulse purchases. These insights were the motivation for our “Seeing it Sells it” campaign, which is used in Dordan print and web-based branding.

ANYWAY, the consumer preferences re: package design, outlined in our “Consumer Market Research Report,” coupled with our data based “Seeing it Sells it” insights, informed Dordan’s packaging development process for a potential client. This process is what we hope to convey with our new 3D Package Design & Manufacturing Synergy exhibit at Pack Expo. Consider the following scenario:

A manufacturer of high-end faucets approached Dordan with the interest of redesigning the packaging of its highest-selling faucet at retail. Design requirements cited included creating a unique shelf impact while keeping costs constant with current packaging (litho-laminated corrugate box with molded pulp insert tray). Dordan created 3 new packaging concepts, which were presented to the potential client via 3D Packaging Modeling renderings; these allowed our potential client to understand how the package was designed to optimize the capabilities of thermoforming, how it is manufactured, fulfilled, and appears at retail.

The first concept was the most consistent with current packaging; it simply replaced the molded pulp insert tray with a thermoformed version, reducing the selling unit weight and reducing transportation costs.

Click here to watch the package design movie.

The second incorporated the “Seeing it Sells it” mentality into the packaging redesign: It included a die-cut window in the litho-laminate box, which housed the faucet sandwiched between a thermoformed tray and transparent lid, allowing the customer to see the faucet model.

Click here to see the concept.

The last version, and my personal favorite, is the Thermobook, which is a packaging concept in which the product lay inside two thermoformed sleeves/cavities that fold together to protect the product while increasing cube utilization. When opened, this “Thermobook” allows the customer to see the product behind the thermoformed sleeve, thereby facilitating instant product recognition and consumer convenience.

Click here for the movie.

For each concept, the potential client was shown a total of three renderings: one of how the package is assembled i.e. packaging and product components, like the last example; one of how the package looks fulfilled, like the first and second example; and, one of how the product looks at retail, which is not conveyed in the examples above. Consequently, the client understands everything—from how the package is manufactured, how it is fulfilled, and how it appears at retail—prior to cutting any metal. Cool, huh?!? Does that make sense? Hopefully this process will be conveyed in our new exhibit at Pack Expo, which will have a ton of different 3D package design renderings streaming from YouTube, showing each phase of the informed and integrated packaging developmental process at Dordan.

To see all of Dordan’s new products and services at Pack Expo, check out our virtual booth here.

Tootles!

Feedback from Pack Expo

October 26, 2011

Hey!

Sooo Pack Expo was awesome! It’s the first time we exhibited at that show and were really glad we did—tons of traffic and new opportunities. And Vegas is awesome! We stayed at the Cosmopolitan, which is probably the nicest hotel in a super tacky yet classy sort of way, if that’s possible. Here is a picture of the view from my room:

And here is me in a large shoe:

We had A LOT of interest in the Bio Resin Show N Tell at the Show, which acted as an awesome way to “lure” attendees into our booth. I find that when you have some type of interactive exhibit that establishes a foundation for talking points, it’s a lot easier to engage with booth passerbyers. Show attendees seemed impressed with our level of insight into “sustainability” and packaging and appreciated how we didn’t sugar coat anything in regards to myths of THE sustainable material or package. It also seemed as though the level of understanding around issues of sustainable packaging has increased throughout the industry as a lot of people articulated a pretty thorough grasp of the realities of “green” packaging insofar as cost and performance is concerned. That which seemed enlightening to those who participated in the Bio Resin Show N Tell, however, was the clarification between bio-based plastics and compostable/biodegradable plastics. Contrary to popular belief, just because something is bio-based doesn’t mean it is “biodegradable.” In discussions of bio-based PET, in which the PlantBottle is a prime example, the only difference between PET and bio-PET is where the carbon comes from: fossil fuel or agricultural bi-products. Therefore, the chemistry of the polymer is identical to traditional, fossil-based PET, though its feedstock comes partially from a new (plants), as opposed to old (fossil fuel), carbon source. It wasn’t until I sat through a 4-hour workshop with professor Dr. Ramani Naraya that I finally understood this seemingly simple concept, which initially appeared as complicated as the physics of worm holes.

Also appreciated were the COMPASS LCA-tutorials. Here we introduced the comparative packaging software and described how to use it to design more sustainable packaging and have the data to back up the assumed sustainability improvements. Everyone was pretty surprised at the ease of useability and how the tool could be used to provide marketing departments with concrete data to inform environmental marketing language. i.e. this package releases 20% less GHG emissions throughout it’s life when compared with the previous design! At the same time, however, we emphasized data gaps in the LCI metrics and how the tool should be understood more as a COMPASS (tells you where you are going) than a GPS (where you are).

Probably the silliest happening from the Show was in constructing our booth the day before when we realized we brought the wrong company name sign! Instead of reading “Dordan,” the name of the company, it read “custom thermoformed packaging solutions since 1962!” Quite the mouth-full, ha! I loved the bewildered look on people’s faces as they consulted their Show itinerary to verify our booth location only to learn the Marketing Manager, ahem, me, made a boo boo. C’est le vie!

Our next post will provide feedback from the SPC meeting. Adios!

Hellllllloooooooooooo my packaging and sustainability friends! I have returned to my beloved Chicago after two weeks of traveling: First, to the SPC’s member-only meeting in Dallas; then, to Las Vegas for Pack Expo! I have tons of awesome stuff to report, but unfortunately, am strapped for time as I have been invited to speak at the Polyester Extrusion and Recycling Conference last minute. Check out the description of my presentation below, super cool!

Presentation Title: Reflections on “Recycling Report©”

Presentation Description: In early 2010, Chandler Slavin released “Recycling Report: The Truth about Blister/Clamshell Recycling in America with Suggestions for the Industry©.” This report was the culmination of over a year’s work of independent research into the realities of waste management in America, with attention to the economical and infrastructural requirements of post-consumer PET thermoform recycling. Reflections on “Recycling Report©” discusses this research in abstract while highlighting the new developments in PET thermoform recycling as initiated through the industry and its associations. Slavin will report on the progress made in these regards after establishing a foundation for understanding the economics of recycling in America as described with reference to the 2010 Report.

Once I polish off my PPT, I will provide the following updates generated from my experiences the last two weeks:

SPC meeting feedback, including updates on following SPC projects: Labeling for Recovery Project, EPR AMERIPEN/SPC working group, Material Health working group; additionally, I will discuss the SPC’s call for “collective reporting” and the member-companies reaction thereto. And, second times the charm, I have been nominated to the Executive Committee! Ballots went out last week and the election closes this Friday; good luck to my fellow nominees!

Feedback on all things Pack Expo!

OH and I saw the mock-up for my Sept/Oct. feature in Green Manufacturer and am positively thrilled! It is by far the nicest thing anyone has every written about me, I am just tickled pink!

Untill next time!

This that and the other

September 13, 2011

Hello my packaging and sustainability friends!

I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely transition to fall!

Sooooooooooo let’s see what’s new and improved…our organic Victory Garden is in full grow mode! Check out the new pictures! Yum!

AND, after last year’s waste audit wherein we determined that corrugate comprised a large part of our material sent to landfill, we are now collecting our corrugate for recycling! Neat!

The Environmental Task Force of School District 200 is hosting its first meeting September 20th. Unfortunately, I will be in Dallas for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s fall, members-only meeting. I will be sure to keep you updated on the initiatives of the ETF, however, and can’t wait to give you feedback on all things SPC-related.

AND, our press release introducing our NEW Pack Expo exhibit was picked up by Google Alerts Friday! EXCITING. Click here to read more!

Alright, farewell my fine weather friends—I leave for the SPC meeting this weekend, afterwhich, I go right to Pack Expo. Therefore, I will postpone blogging until I return from these events, chalked full of industry insights and sustainability and packaging tid bits. Cheerio!

Hello and happy Monday funday!

Sooooo guess what?!? It turns out that my “Truth about Plastics Packaging” report isn’t due into the publishers to be distributed with Packaging World’s August New Issue Alert until August 8th! HURRA! I am about half-way done outlining Freinkel’s Plastic: A Toxic Love Story and plan to have the final draft ready for you, my packaging and sustainability friends, by the first week of August. Stay tuned!

On another note, I found BABY MICE in the composter! Uh oh. While they are very cute (see the picture below), I don’t believe they are ideal for composting.

The process of composting Dordan’s food and yard waste has been a learning process, insofar as it is a bit of a formula between wet (food) and dry (yard) waste. So far we have had a disproportionate amount of dry to wet waste, which has resulted in the compost pile being a bit stagnant. Oh well, live and learn! We will continue to work on getting the “perfect” mix in the composter to produce quality compost for our organic Victory Garden, which is coming along swimmingly! Last week we harvested basil and several types of lettuce. The peppers and tomatoes are getting bigger and bigger each day! Look out for new pictures in a latter post!

And, our online booth for Pack Expo is now LIVE! Check it out here!

And, sort of random, but Dordan released a press release introducing our redesigned corporate website, though I don’t think it was interesting enough to be picked up by any industry publications, wa wa. Check it out below!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Rob McClurg
TurnKey Digital, LTD.
815.334.9300
rmcclurg@turnkeydigital.com

Dordan Manufacturing Unveils Redesigned Corporate Website

Woodstock—July 6th 2011—Dordan Manufacturing Company Inc., third-generation family owned and operated custom thermoformer, unveiled a redesigned corporate website July 1st, 2011 at 5:30 PM CST. The new website, designed by Dordan’s internal Marketing Department and media house TurnKey Digital of Woodstock, IL, aesthetically aligns itself with Dordan’s newly-focused brand identity; such identity took root with Dordan’s integrated marketing campaign introduced in 2010 via Summit Media Company. While enjoying the reputation that comes with almost 50 years experience in the industry, Dordan CEO Daniel Slavin wanted to increase its brand recognition through the development and execution of a marketing campaign that worked on several media platforms—the last of which the redesign of the corporate website, http://www.Dordan.com.

Previously dominated with highly saturated hues and minimal content, the new website is light, modern, and easy-to-use. High-quality photographs with a click-and-zoom feature accompany each product page, allowing for ease of product recognition. A package design rendering video is included on the package design service page, illustrating one of the many design renderings Dordan offers its clients in the package development process. Also included is company-specific information, like how tools are machined, how many thermoforming lines are available, and what materials Dordan has experience thermoforming. In short, the new website is content-rich and aesthetically pleasing, aiding Dordan in communicating its corporate goals of transparency, sustainability, and package design and plastic thermoforming excellence.

New to the site is Dordan’s Morphing Sustainability Logo, which represents the corporation’s integrated approach to sustainability that draws on the social, economic, and environmental aspects thereof. The “Mega-Logo,” available on the Dordan Sustainability Initiatives page, represents this three-tiered approach to sustainability with its three green leaves denoting each aspect of sustainability. The Economic Sustainability page contains the first rendition of the morphing logo, displaying a tomato plant “growing” out of the branded “D” for “Dordan,” symbolic of the company’s Organic Victory Garden and relationship to the local economy. The Social Sustainability page contains the next rendition of the morphing logo, represented by a school growing out of the “D;” this is intended to convey the company’s involvement with the Woodstock School District. The Environmental Sustainability page includes the last rendition of the morphing logo, this time with flowers growing out of the “D” representative of Dordan’s goal of zero-waste. The Sustainability Morphing Logo is viewable in its entirety on the Dordan.com homepage and Harvard-based artist Gabriel Karagianis designed it.

Dordan CEO Slavin explains, “While we have always considered ourselves one of the premiere custom plastic thermoforming companies in the industry, we wanted our branded identity to convey that. Consequently, we invested in a 6-month process redesigning and re-writing the corporate website, in hopes that the new look would resonate with those looking for a full-service design and plastic packaging manufacturing company. We are thrilled with the result and are happy to share the new feel with our friends and colleagues, clients and industry.”

About Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Incorporated in 1962, Dordan is a Midwestern based, National supplier of custom designed thermoformed packaging solutions like clamshells, blisters, trays and components for a variety of industries. Dordan will be exhibiting at Pack Expo in Las Vegas September 26th-28th, booth #6007.

AND, last but not least, but some exciting developments in recycling PET thermoforms hit the press last week! Check out the PlasticsNews article below!

NAPCOR and SPI team up to help recycle thermoformed PET
By Mike Verespej | PLASTICS NEWS STAFF

WASHINGTON (July 18, 5:15 p.m. ET) — In an initiative that officials hope will propel the collection and recycling of thermoformed PET packaging, trade groups representing plastics and recycling companies are collaborating on a model program to demonstrate the economic feasibility of capturing that material.

The program represents the first major recycling initiative by the industry’s largest plastics association, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.

“Thermoformed packaging is the fastest-growing packaging segment in the U.S. and Canada,” said Dennis Sabourin, executive director of the Sonoma, Calif.,-based National Association for PET Container Resources, which is partnering with SPI. “This represents a tremendous opportunity to build the supply of recycled plastic materials,” as the amount of thermoformed packaging in the U.S. and Canada is expected to be 3 billion pounds by 2014 — or half the size of today’s PET bottle market.

In addition, the largest Canadian grocers last month told their suppliers to switch to PET clamshells for most food packaging by Jan 1, 2012.

Click here for the full article.

I leave you with a legend on how modern plastics were born, as per Freinkel’s Plastic: A Toxic Love Story…

Legend has it that one day John D. Rockefeller was looking out over one of his oil refineries and suddenly noticed flames flaring from some smokestacks. “What’s burning?” he asked, and someone explained that the company was burning off ethylene gas, a byproduct of the refining process. “I don’t believe in wasting anything!” Rockefeller supposedly snapped. “Figure out something to do with it!” That something became polyethylene (59).

HA! LOVE IT.

AND LOOK– my mom caught a picture of a female Cardinal feeding a motherless baby Robin bird! So much for survival of the fittest (though my mother informed me that the baby Robin was washed away in Friday’s thunder storm…that’s kind of a bummer).

It’s CRUNCH TIME

July 18, 2011

Hey!

Sooooo I am about to go retreat to the deep, dark depths of my condo for a week so I can write Dordan’s next white paper, “The Truth about Plastic Packaging,” which is based on Susan Freinkel’s Plastic: A Toxic Love Story. The book is awesome and Susan is a really great writer. I have learned so much about plastic and I hope to present a concise, easy-to-read summary of sorts of her extensive work, which focuses on all the hot button issues surrounding plastic packaging like PVC, BPA, plastics in the ocean, etc. I apologize for my absence the next week, but it’s CRUNCH TIME.

And for your viewing pleasure, some Dordan news IN the news, neat! Thanks Greener Package and PlasticsToday.com!!!

Pack Expo: Dordan to offer Walmart Packaging Modeling 3.0 Tutorials
Pack Expo: Dordan to perform COMPASS LCA demonstrations
Thermoformer Dordan expands range of sustainable packaging
Pack Expo: Dordan adds new resins to its Bio Resin Show N Tell

Hi!

Happy Monday Funday!

Today’s post is a little of this, a little of that!

First, I am going to this “green” networking event in Chicago on Wednesday! Calling all fellow Sustainable Chicagoians; I hope to see you there!

Second, I was reading through PMMI’s Pack Expo 2010 Trends Report and Dordan is highlighted in the “Improve Sustainability” section thanks to our popular Bio Resin Show N Tell! Download the report here, and we are on page 14! Neato!

Also this is sort of random, but my brother was quoted in a Chicago Time Out piece about “wrap rage.” Check it out here. Rock N Roll Sean!

AND, this lady I met in Atlanta from the Freedonia Group (the organization that does all those fancy research reports that cost an arm and a leg) emailed me this abstract of their report on “Green Packaging.” Though it is only an introduction, there is still some really good information, so check it out!

US Industry Forecast, Green Packaging

This is going to sound long winded but here me out: Last week I emailed a colleague of mine at The Packaging Association about the winner of the PAC Green Den Award. For those of you unfamiliar, the Packaging Association hosted a Green Den at Pack Expo 2010, which was basically a Show N Tell of sustainable products that the audience voted on to determine which was “the most sustainable” or whatever. In a recent press release, it was explained that the winner of the PAC Green Den award was the biodegradable plastic additive, EcoPure. For those of you who do not follow my blog regularly, I devoted several posts to trying to understand the claims made by the distributor of this product. Visit posts titled “And the Investigation Begins” from early September for more information on this product and its claims. Anyway, I was surprised that EcoPure won this award, because in all the research I did, I was never able to truly understand how breaking plastic into tiny tiny pieces is perceived as a sustainable end-of-life-management option for plastic packaging, assuming it does in fact “work.”

So this is what I wrote:

Hello!

I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas!!!

This is random but I was looking through the PMMI Trends from Pack Expo Report and I was surprised to learn that EcoLogic won a PAC Green Den award for their biodegradable plastic additive EcoPure…

The reason I bring this up is because I spent a lot of time researching the claims of this company and found that they are sort of full of it… the ASTM 5111 standard they site for biodegradation in a landfill is a certification for a test, not representative of passing said test. While I don’t want to get into the he-said-she-said debate, I was just curious what your thoughts on this product are. Perhaps I am confused or misinformed. I was just under the impression that it is products like these that confuse “sustainability” as it pertains to packaging.

Again, I am not trying to be a jerk; this just peaked my interest…

And his response:

Hi Chandler,

I’ve been off for a few days and just back in today.

It appears that you have done more research that the public audience that voted and selected this at PACKEXPO. A professional panel provides feedback at the session and it is the public audience that votes on all presentations. PAC is the facilitator of the process and remains objective during the process. The panelists and audience are the judge and jury.
Hope to see you soon.

YIKES.

And I leave you with this fabulous picture of my pops and I from our interview at Pack Expo 2010, courtesy of PlasticsNews:

copyright Plastics News, reprinted with permission

AWWWWWWWW

Tootles!

I heart PlasticsNews!!!

January 6, 2011

Hello 2011!!!

I am back from beautiful Mexico and am happy to report that I have beaten my addiction to Chap Stick; all it took was some fun in the Mexican sun. Hurray!

Dordan started off 2011 with a bang, thanks to the January 3rd print addition of the lovely PlasticsNews.

For starters, lil ole’ me was quoted several times (10 in fact!) in regard to my presentation at Sustainable Plastics Packaging, as reported in Mike Verespej’s “Container Recycling Effort Remains Daunting.” To read the piece in all its glory, click here.

THEN, Dordan was given an entire half-page spread in the special report “Plastics and Packaging,” where reporter Dan Hockensmith summarizes our interview during Pack Expo 2010. They include a picture and everything! It is the most Dordan-centric editorial we have received thus far, so we are thrilled! Click here for the full article.

Thanks PlasticsNews!!!

Next week’s post will provide the second portion of my feedback from Sustainable Plastic Packaging and begin discussing the Walmart SVN that I attended December 14th. Sorry, trying to play catch up!

Greetings!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I know I was working at Dordan this time last year but boy howdy do I feel extra unmotivated this time around! I have even put off blogging—one of my favorite work past times—because I just don’t feel like it. Hopefully I will resume my normal workhorse-ness after the New Year…

In my time-killing attempts this morning, I came across the Pack Expo Report, which is basically a summary of all the happenings of this enormous event. While flipping through its contents, I was delighted to discover that Dordan got a shout out! Check it our here on page 16 and 17. They even include our comparative spec sheet from our Bio Resin Show N Tell! Neato!

I know I promised you all some SPP and Walmart SVN feedback, so here it goes:

Sustainable Plastics Packaging 2010, Crain Communications, December 8th and 9th, Atlanta

I arrived at the hotel that was hosting the conference early so I could work on my presentation and meet with the IT gentleman to make sure everything worked correctly. That night I met with three reporters from Crain, all of whom were very nice! I didn’t know this at the time but Crain Communications houses all these fine publications:

• Advertising Age
• American Coin-Op
• American Drycleaner
• American Laundry News
• Automobilwoche
• Automotive News
• AutoWeek
• Business Insurance
• BtoB
• Crain’s Chicago Business
• Crain’s Cleveland Business
• Crain’s Detroit Business
• Crain’s New York Business
• Creativity
• European Plastics News
• European Rubber Journal
• InvestmentNews
• Media Business
• Modern Healthcare
• Modern Physician
• Pensions & Investments
• Plastics News
• Plastics News China
• Plastics & Rubber Weekly
• Rubber & Plastics News
• Staffing Industry Analysts
• TelevisionWeek
• Tire Business
• Urethanes Technology International
• Waste & Recycling News
• Workforce Management

CRAZY!

Anyway, one of the gentlemen I met with, who was in charge of the conference itself, was one of the founders of PlasticsNews in the early eighties! So let’s just say, these guys know a thing or two about a thing or two as it pertains to plastic and packaging!

After I ran through my presentation and made the necessary tweaks (I got the presentation down from 80 slides to 62, simplified my language, etc.), I was off to bed to prepare for a very busy and thought-provoking day!

The first presentation on the 8th was Suzanne Shelton’s (SHELTON GROUP) “Challenging the Perception that Plastic is Bad.”

What was cool about this presentation, aside from the fact that it drove home the point that people like buying products that are “environmentally friendly” yet don’t really know what that means, was that it showed live footage of consumers talking about packaging. Imagine a round table where a handful of “normal” consumers are asked questions about plastic packaging and the environment and then the fun that is their responses. Good times! What I took away from this presentation is that depending on your product category (dairy, electronics, detergent, etc.), certain sustainability attributes—be it “made with recycled content” or “biodegradable” or “no GMOs”—provoke consumers’ willingness to buy when compared with products that have no environmental marketing claims. What is important to remember, Shelton emphasized, is that preferences for environmental attributes change between product category groups; therefore, when designing new product packaging, marketers should be familiar with what environmental buzz words consumers identify with within their product category.

Next, Aaron Brody of Packaging/Brody Inc. presented on “Packaging Role in the World Food Crisis.” Because I was busy rehearsing my presentation in my mind, I didn’t get all I should have out of this presentation, which I heard was really good! All I really remember is that Brody made an argument that the global production and distribution of food stuff was much more sustainable than locally sourced food stuff… check out the presentation here for more information.

I missed the next several presentations because I went to my room to present again and again and again to make sure I had it down. Nothing like being over prepared!

And then I presented. And it was really fun! And I think the crowd was engaged…at least as engaged as you can be when discussing recycling!

After I presented, the previous two presenters and myself came on stage for a “panel discussion.” And guess what: most if not ALL of the questions were directed at me! I think this means that the content was interesting and thought provoking. I felt as though I was playing professor, which is super awesome, being that I wanted to be one! I was really glad too because no one asked me a question I could not answer…there was a Chinese woman in the crowd who I may have offended in my discussion of shipping the majority of our post consumer plastic to Asia due to the extremely low cost of manual separation compared with the high cost of automated sorting technologies in North America…

AND even more exciting, after my presentation, this gentleman from NURRC approached me and invited me to tour his plant! Apparently NURRC is a joint venture with Coca Cola that recycles ALL PET; bottles AND thermoforms. He said that they have no problem sorting the PET thermoforms from those destined for landfill via their sorting technology and that he would love to host me at their plant. AWESOME. Check out their website here.

WOWZA—in all my procrastinating it’s time for me to go! I will continue this post tomorrow!

Playing catch up

November 22, 2010

Hello and happy Monday funday!

Boy howdy do we have lots to talk about!

Drum roll please….I FINALLY finished my presentation on my Recycling Report for Sustainable Plastics Packaging 2010 in Atlanta, December 8th and 9th! I had no idea how hard it would be to convert a 10 page report into a half an hour presentation while not boring the audience to death with all the technicalities that is recycling. It sort of reminded me of when I was invited to present my Senior Thesis to a class of freshmen at DePaul—not that the audience of this Conference is comparable to college freshmen—but insofar as there is way too much to explain in the confines of a half an hour. Before I could even begin talking about the state of recycling clamshells in America, I had to set up a foundation for understanding the economics of recycling in general, including the “process” of recycling from collection through reprocessing/remanufacturing. All I know is that I have over 80 slides, which means I have to go through almost 4 slides a minute. I talk fast, but that is super fast…

Here is the structure of my presentation:

Introduction: What is “recyclable,” why, and why we care
Part 1: Explain the economics of recycling packaging in America with reference to abstract concepts
Part 2: Contextualize said concepts by explaining them in tandem with the state of recycling thermoform packaging in America:
Section 1: Supply and Demand Considerations
Section 2: Sortation Considerations
Section 3 Specs and Baling Considerations
Section 4: Contamination Considerations
Part 3: Discuss where we should go from here to work towards recycling thermoforms.
Conclusion: Discuss what progress is being made in recycling thermoforms with reference to NAPCOR

While normally I would post my presentation to my blog for your viewing pleasure, I am going to wait until after my presentation because I think it gives the content a sense of drama! And, who doesn’t like creating drama via anticipation?

That which was also difficult to convey in my presentation was the “why” component: that is, why do we care about recycling in general, and recycling thermoforms in particular? After all, while I am interested in recycling because I am interested in just about anything (ahem, degree in Religious Ethics anyone?), the audience for this conference will be anyone from brand owners to material suppliers; each of which, has different motivations for attending the conference. Therefore, while creating the content for this presentation, I thought it was important to situate recycling within the larger picture i.e. what does this do for me as a packaging professional? Granted I think recycling in and of itself is the “right thing to do” because it conserves our natural resources and therefore should be discussed in an open forum, most “business people” are more concerned about the bottom line than saving the planet. SOOOO this is what I came up with:

We care about recycling packaging because…

• Introduction of Walmart Packaging Scorecard;
• Increase demand for sustainable packaging and products by CPGs/retailers/consumers;
• Increased awareness that a products’/packages’ end of life management is crucial to its “sustainability.”
• Increased demand for PC content in packaging and products by CPGs and retailers.
• Advances in Extended Producer Responsibility.
• And, an increased understanding that our Earth’s resources are finite.

Obviously for each point I expand; hence, the point of a “presentation.”

I then talk about the “green consumer” and reference various market research that shows that if deciding between competing brands/products, consumers are more likely to buy the “green” product than the product not touting any environmental benefit (assuming same price, performance and quality).

Then I move onto a quick discussion of why we care about recycling thermoforms specifically, quoting NAPCOR’s 2009 Report on Post Consumer PET Container Recycling:

The dramatic growth in PET thermoformed packaging has resulted in pressures… for a recycling end-of-life option. Although additional post-consumer RPET supply is arguably the most critical issue facing the industry, a variety of technical issues have prevented existing PET bottle reclaimers from including PET thermoforms in the bottle stream. As a result, the potential value of this growing PET packaging segment is not being successfully realized.

By emphasizing NAPCOR’s opinion that additional PC PET supply is a critical issue facing the industry, I imply that only by adding PET thermoforms into the PET recycling stream, either within the PET bottle stream or a PET thermoform only stream, can said demand be met. In other words: recycling thermoforms will provide additional PC PET material for application in a multitude of end markets, be it bottles, thermoforms, or other.

Are you convinced that recycling is the way to go?!? Perhaps this will persuade you.

I plan to present my presentation to my Dordan colleagues sometime next week to get their feedback…my main concerns is that there is too much content and not enough time to get though it all…more details to come!

Shall we move on to a brief recap of Pack Expo, as I have yet to give you any feedback from this insanely huge event?

Pack Expo 2010 was a roaring success: Dordan had more direct traffic (people looking for Dordan as opposed to just wandering by) than any other year we exhibited past! Our booth looked super great and our Bio Resin Show N Tell and COMPASS tutorials generated a lot of interest among the Show attendees.

Our Bio Resins Show N Tell definitely got the most attention, as Show attendees explained how nice it was to have objective research accompany the latest alternative resins, which Dordan converted via thermoforming for seeing and feeling pleasure. I was happy to hear that like Dordan, the onslaught of environmental marketing claims in the context of bio based/biodegradable/compostable resins was confusing the heck out of packaging professionals, as every study you read contradicts the last study published. After the Show, Dordan was contacted by a ton of Show attendees, who all requested the information displayed alongside our Bio Resin Show N Tell. Due to Dordan’s ethic of corporate transparency, we were thrilled to share our research with the interested parties. Hopefully interest like this will move our industry in the right direction, away from confusing environmental claims and towards a more qualified understanding of packaging and sustainability.

AND, check out this special picture of me and my brother/Dordan Sales Manager Aric at CardPak’s Sustainability Dinner at the Adler Planetarium during Pack Expo:

Good times.

This is sort of random but one of my old college professors, with whom I still speak, was featured on NPR Friday. His interview was really cool, and while on the NPR site, I found a session within the “Environment” heading that dealt specifically with the plastic vs. paper debate.

Check it out here.

That which I found the most interesting, however, was around the 15 minute mark when Jane Bickerstaffe of INCPEN explains how packaging has become the scapegoat for the perceived problems with how humans relate to our natural environment. She explains…

We did some research looking at the average household energy use for everything:

81% of energy is consumed by the products and food we buy, central heating and hot water in homes, and private transport. Packaging, however, accounts for just 3% of our energy expenditures.

She concludes:

People need to get a sense of perceptive…they drive their SUVs to the grocery store and then stand there agonizing over whether to choose paper or plastic; it’s actually a tiny tiny impact.

Right on! Granted the way in which we produce and consume things can always become more “sustainable,” the bag and bottle bans make my head hurt because the concern is so misplaced when you are wearing Gucci shoes manufactured by children in Indonesia. Alright, now I am getting a little melodramatic, but you get the idea, right? And speaking of overseas manufacturing, I just bought this book. My next research project is on the ethics of sourcing product/packaging from China. Exciting!

And how ironic, Dordan CEO says the EXACT same thing in our recently published interview in PlasticsNews.

Hurray for PlasticsNews!

Alright, I got to go: I am on a deadline to research and write a white paper providing evidence that “seeing it sells it” i.e. market research demonstrating that consumers’ identification of the product via transparent packaging results in higher sales. While all the sustainability research in the context of paper vs. plastic I have complied is helpful (see this), Dordan Sales Force tell me again and again that regardless of the environmental profiles of the different packaging materials, packaging buyers want the packaging medium that will sell the product. Period. Time to sales savvy marketing piece to our bag of tricks! Wish me luck!

But I will leave you with this informative article about recycled plastic markets from Recycling Today. Enjoy!