Heyo!

Long time no chat! As per a previous post’s statement, I spoke with a representative from Algix a couple weeks back in regards to their algae-based plastic that has been successfully injection molded into different parts. Unfortunately I have misplaced my notes from the call, which detailed the technicalities involved in synthesizing a resin from an algae-based feedstock, including the unique chemistry of this process. But fear not! Check out the inquiries below I just emailed to my friend at Algix who defiantly is the go-to guy for all things algae-based-technology related.  

  • Please describe the relationship between textile manufacturers/dairy producers and algae. In other words, how does algae become a waste product of these industries’ processes and how is it ideal for manipulation into bio-based plastics?
  • How is post-industrial algae synthesized into bio-based plastics? In other words, how is the protein in algae bound to the plastic components to allow for application to injection molding? What additives are required to allow for the synthesis OR used to increase the properties of the material? I remember discussions of protein-based materials (cellulous) vs. carbon-based (bio-PET) and how the former “connects” to the plastic molecule similar to how the calcium carbonate connects to the PP polymer, for example.  Please expand on this analogy.
  • What is the preferred end-of-life treatment of this unique bio-based plastic? Is it similar to the approach taken by PLA supplier NatureWorks, which looks to generate the quantity necessary to sustain the creation of a closed-loop recycling process in which PLA would be recycled in its own post-consumer stream?

Hopefully, more details to come!

NEXT, Dordan’s collaboration with material science company Ecovative in regards to the design of their thermoformed “grow trays” was recently covered in several industry articles: First published on GreenerPackage.com and then Packaging World the story subsequently made its way into HealthCare Packaging! Thereafter,  a different version of the story appeared on PlasticsToday.com; this focused more on how the limitations of Ecovative’s manufacturing processes, couple with those inherent in thermoforming, dictated the overall design of the grow trays. Obviously I am biased, but I think this story is super clever insofar as it demonstrates how different packaging suppliers can collaborate in new and exciting ways, leveraging existing technologies like thermoforming and innovations in material science (ahem, growing packaging!) to facilitate process efficiencies  within the supply chain. I especially like how Ecovative’s Sam explained how thermoforming, unlike a lot of engineering processes, is “a bit of an art form,” giving merit to one of Dordan’s marketing slogans: “Dordan, the perfect blend of art and engineering.”  Neato! You may recall a video from Pack Expo that shows Sam and I discussing this collaboration; the GreenerPackage.com/Packaging World feature is as follow up to that discussion. I hope you like the photos of the thermoformed grow trays—I roamed around Dordan’s factory sticking the 21X21 inch tray here and there, finally finding a home for it sandwiched between a narrow cavity in one of our skids, ha!

 Next, our efforts to recycle thermoformed packaging are being featured in the Reporter’s Notebook series of Machine Design Magazine. This is one of the more technical interviews I have experienced, with questions as complex as: describe the waste management industry in America, yikes! Expect a digital version of the story latter this afternoon…(two hours later)…and here it is!

If I could reflect for a moment…how awesome is the PR/publishing industry in the packaging space?!? From blogging about our efforts to recycle thermoform packaging to having said efforts awarded the cover feature in Green Manufacturer Magazine to creating a press release describing our collaboration with Ecovative that subsequently caught the attention of Greener Package editor Anne Marie Mohan at Pack Expo, I can’t believe the success we have experienced getting our story out to a large and targeted audience via these news channels. So HOOHA to the packaging industry and its fabulous representation in the news via these proactive and innovative publishing houses.

Let’s see what now. I sent a follow up email to my friend at S+S sorting in regards to the results of their pilot looking to investigate the technical differences between reprocessing bottle-grade and thermoform-grade PET. Thanks for those of you who participated in my poll following my last post; more polls to come!

Last but not least, meet the Dordanites! As per a reporter’s request for inclusion in an upcoming publication, my father and Dordan CEO Daniel and my brothers and Dordan Account Executives Sean and Aric and yours truly participated in a photoshoot last week. Obviously there are a lot of other Dordanites—aside from those that carry the Slavin name—that make Dordan such a lovely place to work. From engineering to production to management, we are proud of our employees and while little to they know, they will soon be beckoned for a company photoshoot, muhahahaha.

Enjoy!

Dordan CEO Daniel explaining thermoforming

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Dan expanding on art of thermoforming

Dordanites looking all fly; Sales Manager Aric far right, CEO Dan second from right, Account Exec Sean left of Dan, and ME far left

Our more normal demeanor

My boys!

HA! I think this is silly

Do we see a pattern developing?!?

There we go!

Awwwww

Because you should never take yourself too seriously...

In my next post I will discuss (FINALLY) feedback from the SPC’s material health working group, which looks to develop indicators and metrics to assess the safety of materials used in packaging. This stuff gets pretty heady so make sure you bring your thinking cap!

BPA is back!

August 22, 2011

Hey!

I don’t have much time to chat BUT I wanted to include links to a couple news items I found about BPA while perusing industry publications today. Like the excerpts from the unpublished Truth about BPA & PVC posted August 16th, these articles paint a rather confusing picture about the human health implications of BPA. By including them here I do not intend to support the arguments made therein; I simply wish to share because they add to the already pervasive cannon about BPA and phthalates. As I am still in the information gathering phase and because I found the timing of these articles a bit ironic insofar as I spent the better part of July researching the effects of BPA and phthalates on the endocrine system, I thought I would share them with you! I like the blogging format because the conversation never really ends and you can pick up and leave off with different threads, which is exactly what I am doing now!

“Good Science, Bad Politics,” Plastics News

“Hardwired to Doubt Science?” Packaging World

Hello and happy Tuesday my packaging and sustainability friends!

I have some pretty exciting news!!!!

I have been invited to be a JUDGE for the Greener Package awards for 2011!

For those of you unfamiliar, the Greener Package awards is a contest organized by greenerpackage.com, which is a project of Summit Media Company—the media group that produces the industry magazines Packaging World, Contract Packaging, HealthCare Packaging and more. Greenerpackage.com was launched in 2008, maybe, and intended to be an open forum wherein interested parties may read and contribute to issues pertaining to packaging and sustainability; its tagline is “Knowledge exchange for sustainable packaging.” Packaging World editor and reporter Anne Marie Mohan, who produces the editorial content for Packaging World’s E-Clip series and others, is the voice through which industry happenings pertaining to packaging and sustainability are conveyed to site visitors.

I discovered greenerpackage.com when I was at my first conference in Atlanta in 2009 for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s members-only fall meeting. A Packaging Engineer for Target asked what relationship, if any, there is between the SPC and greenerpackage.com. I still remember scribbling down
greenerpackage.com in my notebook with a big star next to it indicating “important.”

Once I returned to Chicago, I checked out the site, and was thrilled!!! Not only was there tons of great editorial information, but there was a space where you could start a discussion/ask the “Expert Network” a question! I, being a product of the put-everything-out-there-generation thanks to websites like myspace, Friendster, facebook and others, was quick to post my first discussion.

Wow, November 3rd 2009 was my first post. I was just a baby yet! The name of the discussion was “Where does the plastic industry go from here” and it was posted following my return from the SPC’s Atlanta meeting (where I first discovered that thermoformed containers were not recycled). If I could be nostalgic for a moment, this post marks the beginning of our clamshell recycling initiative, which facilitated the birth of this very blog. Awwww the memories…

Check out the discussion here.

Next I posted this discussion, which garnered an interesting response, to say the least.

Anyway I am getting way off track. All I was trying to point out is that I am kind of like a greenerpackage groupie insofar as I check the site daily, am eager to comment on discussions, and even used the platform as a third party medium to push out some of Dordan’s thought leadership marketing (in 2010 Dordan had three sponsored links on greenerpackage.com—a white paper under Corporate Strategy that explained our 4-Step Design for Sustainability Process, a sample offer under compostable & biodegradable, and my Recycling Report under the recycling section).

If you are interested in our Design for Sustainability Process, visit http://www.dordan.com/design_for_sustainability.shtml; if you are interested in downloading the Recycling Report or other research, visit http://www.dordan.com/dordan_sustainability_research.shtml; and, if you are interested in receiving a free sample of two innovative materials (supplier-certified 100% PCR PET and third-party certified industrial compostable BIOGRAPH.ics), email us at sales@dordan.com. Ok I think that is enough Dordan promotion for the year…

OH, and how could I forget the database?!? After I found greenerpackage.com in late 2009, I discovered that they were launching some kind of database for sustainable products and suppliers. As the recently appointed Sustainability Coordinator at Dordan Manufacturing, I thought it was in our interest to submit a package to this database, so we would be considered a “sustainable supplier” to interested parties. We even opted for the third-party review, which required a bit of homework on our end because we had to work with our material suppliers and plant managers to ensure that the claims we were making were valid i.e. no heavy metals, post-consumer certification, etc. For some reason, the process at the time was super confusing and it took us a loonnnggggg time to get our listing just as such. And lucky us, due to our submission to the greenerpackage database in the early phase of its launch, we got invited to the Walmart Sustainable Packaging Expo in March of 2010, which was super cool! Unfortunately, we are passing up the opportunity to exhibit this year, though I will continue to participate in the Sustainable Value Network meetings.

Check out our listings here.

Ok where was I…oh yea, so in a nut shell, I am very familiar with greenerpackage.com, which is why I was so THRILLED to have been selected as a judge for the prestigious Greener Package Awards! Last year Dordan tried submitting a package to the competition, but unfortunately it was in the R&D phase and the application requires that it be commercialized at the time of submission.

Also on the Judging Committee are: Sean Sabre of ModusLink (he is the head judge or whatever the title would be), Laura Rowell of MWV, Robert Combs of Burts Bees, Minal Mistry of the SPC/GreenBlue, David Newcorn of Greenerpackage, and also involved, though I am unsure to what level, Ron Sasine of Walmart and Scott Balantine of Microsoft. Pretty much all the super duper cool cats of the world of packaging and sustainability, and I get to join their ranks! Not that I am as super cool a cat as the other judges, but nonetheless, I am just tickled pink by the opportunity to work with these outstanding people!

So yeah, for more information on the Greener Package awards, visit here.

Our first call is this Friday I wonder what we are going to talk about?!?! I will let you know if I am able to discuss the Committee happenings with you, my packaging and sustainability friends, though I doubt that would be deemed appropriate due to the level of hush hush assumed with any competition…

Later this week I will blog about the “sustainability” of FSC-certified fiber vs. 100% recycled fiber AND further investigate the pulp/paper industries’ consumption of water in North America.

And lastly, next week I leave for Sustainability in Packaging to present my Recycling Report. I am EXTREMLY nervous because today (interesting timing, I know), I received my speaker evaluation from my presentation in Atlanta for Sustainable Plastics Packaging and I didn’t score too terribly well, to say the least. Comments submitted pertaining to my presentation specifically were a lot of “she spoke too fast, was too energetic, too much detail, confusing organization, amateur style” YIKES. Granted I am thankful for the feedback, it just reminds me of what a rookie I am, and how much more work I have to do before I can consider myself a “seasoned” presenter.

AND the reason I have not been my normal blogging self is because Dordan is in the middle of a web site redesign, which I am spear-heading, and in the process of restructuring the relationship between marketing and sales. Lots O work, I would say!

By the by, today I broke 4,700 views on my blog! Thanks everyone!!!!!!!!