Hey!

Check out my interveiw for Pira International’s 5th Annual Sustainability in Packaging Conference, February 22nd-24th in Orlando, Florida.

Tomorrow’s post will cover the second part of Walmart’s SVN meeting I attended in December.

AND check out our sponsorship of Packaging World’s E-Clip series here. Seeing it sells it!

Stay tuned!

I’m famous!

January 12, 2011

HIIIII!

I have some exciting news!!! The interview conducted after my presentation at Sustainable Plastics Packaging is now live on Plastics News’ website!!!

Aside from the awesome freeze-frame mugshot, I think it is quite good! Check it out here.

AND, I am just about finished summarizing the happenings of the Walmart SVN… I will post them tomorrow; I just didn’t want to over-bombard you with goodness!

Have a lovely day!

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!

Hey!!!

I am writing you from the comfort of my hotel room moments before I have to leave and catch my plane back to sweet home Chicago. BUT I wanted to upload my presentation for you, my packaging and sustainability friends, as I told you I would pending its successful delivery. The conference was jammed packed with all sorts of goodness, which I will obviously discuss on Monday when I return to the office. SO, enjoy!

Recycling Report Presentation

Hey yall!

Check it: Recycling for Thermoformers
RAD!

Greetings my packaging and sustainability friends! I swear, my lot in life is writer’s block: I have been invited to contribute content to SupplierHub’s blog, and am required to submit my first post TODAY, dun dun dunnn. SupplierHub is a closed portal website for Wal-Mart Private Brand suppliers, which looks to aid said suppliers in the attainment of better Packaging and Supply Chain Scores. Check out the website here: http://mysupplierhub.com/login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fdefault.aspx

Therefore, my content, in addition to establishing myself as an authority on packaging and sustainability via my participation with the SPC, Wal-Mart SVN, and MOC Committee of Wal-Mart Canada, should help Wal-Mart Suppliers increase their Scores in some way shape or form. Because I sat in on seminars about the Wal-Mart Packaging Scorecard at the Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club Sustainable Packaging Expo in Bentonville and subscribe to the Wal-Mart Packaging Modeling Software 2.0, I feel as though I am fairly well versed in the metrics and therefore could provide some insight into how to get a better Packaging Score; however, because Dordan does not sell directly to Wal-Mart (our customers sell to Wal-Mart), I am unsure how to go about the whole Supply Chain Score thingamajig…I assume it has something to do with supply chain logistics and finding the most economically and therefore environmentally efficient way to manufacture, transport and distribute products at the various Wal-Mart shopping centers throughout America and the world, but that is just an assumption. I often times feel like Wal-Mart is a club that I can’t quite get into, which is conveyed, in my opinion, by the closed portal nature of SupplierHub: Because I am not a Private Brand supplier to Wal-Mart I can’t access the website that I have been invited to contribute blog content to; as an academic, understanding the audience and medium is crucial to creating the content; without which, it is sort of like shooting in the dark. Ohhhh well, you never get anywhere dilly-dallying, right?

By the by, today I should be in Canada at the Walmart SVN/MOC meeting, but I am not. This is for various reasons, which I won’t bore you with. However, I have been watching the presentations via “Global Crossing Conferencing,” which is cool, but don’t have anything too terribly exciting to report. Right now the presenter is discussing Walmart Canada’s action plan for 2010-2012 in regard to the goals outlined by the MOC…and now they are having a break. I love technology!

NOW, drum roll please…NAPCOR/APR have published their much anticipated 2009 PET Recycling Report, which outlines the progress being made in recycling PET thermoforms in the appendix. For the full report, visit: http://www.napcor.com/pdf/2009_Report.pdf. I have also copy and pasted the section on PET thermoform recycling here. Enjoy!!!

ADDENDUM: PET THERMOFORM RECYCLING

The dramatic growth in PET thermoformed packaging has resulted in pressures from environmentalists, brand owners, policy makers, recycling program operators, and most importantly, consumers, 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.

NAPCOR has made recycling of PET thermoforms its highest priority and to that end, has been working with collectors, intermediate processors, reclaimers and end markets to identify and clearly define these technical issues, and to eliminate the barriers to successful recycling. These barriers include: look-alike packages made from
OPS, PLA, OPP and PVC that require advanced autosort technology; certain adhesives used for paper labels on PET thermoforms; package geometry; and wide variability in intrinsic viscosity.

In 2009, NAPCOR facilitated the shipment of almost one million pounds of PET thermoforms to various reclaimers and end markets in an effort to better understand and remedy these barriers. As a result of this work, it is anticipated that there will be various market options for this material in the near future. This expectation is based on both planned retrofits to existing plants to enable them to handle the variety of shapes and sizes associated with PET thermoforms; new plants being designed to accommodate PET thermoforms; and further work with the PET thermoform manufacturers to establish common adhesive and other “design for recycling” guidelines to address technical barriers to recycling. NAPCOR is committed to working on this issue until PET thermoforms can be labeled “recyclable” in the truest sense of the word (see http://www.napcor.com/PET/positions.html for the NAPCOR position statement on Use of the Term Recyclable), and is optimistic that its efforts will be successful.

NAPCOR acknowledges the strong support of this effort by Stewardship Ontario, Waste Diversion Ontario, The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR), and the Canadian Plastic Industry Association (CPIA), without whose collective assistance we would not have made nearly the progress achieved to date.

UG! I have been pulling my hair out the last two days trying to condense my 10-page recycling report, available here: http://www.greenerpackage.com/recycling, to 600 words for publication in PlasticsNews! After much frustration, I realized there is no way I can incorporate all the necessary facets in 600 words; therefore, what follows is my best attempt to simplify my findings while still being informative and of value to the industry.

Enjoy!

Being new to the plastics industry, it was just last year that I discovered that thermoformed packaging, like the clamshells, blisters and trays Dordan manufacturers, are not recycled in 60% or more American communities; therefore, could not be considered “recyclable” according to the FTC’s Green Guides’ definition. While everything is theoretically “recyclable,” only those packaging/material types that are collected post consumer in the “substantial majority of American communities” and sold for reprocessing can be considered recycled/recyclable.

Upon this discovery I began researching what obstacles had historically kept thermoforms out of the recycling infrastructure, in hopes that in isolating the problems, the industry could begin developing solutions. However, I wasn’t alone in this inquiry; organizations like NAPCOR, APR, and others have long identified the market potential of post consumer thermoform recyclate and are working with stakeholders to develop the necessary infrastructure, markets, and technology to facilitate the recycling of thermoforms. Therefore, for a more technical treatment of the progress that is being made in recycling thermoforms, consult the work of the APR, NAPCOR, and their industry partners.

After a year of independent research on recycling, I published my “Recycling Report: the truth about clamshell and blister recycling in America with suggestions for the industry,” which outlines my understanding of the economics dictating the recycling of thermoformed packaging. It is important to note that I in no way intend to present myself as an expert on recycling thermoforms, nor do I intend my Report to be interpreted as an exhaustive study on the topic. That being said, I do feel as though my Report adds to the ongoing discussion surrounding recycling insofar as it presents a concise overview of why certain packaging/material types, like PET/RPET bottles, are recycled, while others, like PET/RPET thermoforms, are not. In addition, I hope that my Report can be interpreted as an analogy for other packaging/material types insofar as while there are dramatic differences between the various post consumer materials’ markets, there are similarities, which when understood, could facilitate the increased diversion of all packaging materials from the waste stream.

What follows is a brief summary of my findings, described in depth in my Recycling Report.

Key findings:

There are three popular approaches to recycling thermoforms:

1. Recycle PET/RPET thermoforms with PET/RPET bottles;
2. Recycle all PET/RPET thermoforms together, separate from PET/RPET bottle stream;
3. Recycle all mixed resin thermoforms together in a low grade plastic mix.

Depending on the approach taken, there are different end markets for the reprocessed material; therefore, different collecting, sorting, cleaning and baling considerations. Due to the confines of the allotted space, I can’t discuss the implications of the various approaches. Regardless of the approach taken, however, the following issues need to be considered:

Basic recycling considerations:

Supply and demand: In order for a package/material type to be collected via curbside or other systems for recycling, there has to be a buyer/end market for the post consumer material. The buyer/end market requires a certain quantity and quality of material, often times outlined in “specs.” For those materials not currently recycled, the supply and demand equilibrium is often described via the chicken and egg analogy: a material/packaging type will not be collected if there is no demand for the post consumer material; there is no demand for the post consumer material if there is no supply available for reprocessing.

Specs: Every package/material type that is collected for recycling has specs, which indicate to the MRF/reclaimer what is allowed in the bale for resale and what is not. For instance, most PET bottle specs indicate that only clear, think neck PET bottles are accepted for reprocessesing, while all other PET rigid containers are not. The development of specs for PET/RPET thermoform and PET/RPET bottle bales, PET/RPET thermoform-only bales, and mixed resin thermoform bales are crucial for the ability of MRFs to sort and bale thermoforms for resale; hence, recycling.

Sorting: For a package/material type to be recycled there has to be a way to efficiently sort the desired material from the material destined for landfill at the MRF/reclaimer level. The more efficient the sorting technology, the lower the cost to “recycle” the material; therefore, the more economically competitive the reprocessed material/product will be in the market. Optical sorting (near Infra-red) can successfully sort PET/RPET thermoforms from other “look-a-likes,” like PVC, a known contaminant to the PET recyclate stream.

Contaminants: The buyer/end market of the post consumer material determines what is considered a contaminant to the material. This dramatically informs how the material is collected, sorted, cleaned and baled for resale because contaminants are reclaimers number one obstacle: if the bale does not meet specs for the buyer/end market, the material will not be sold and recycled.

In short, the recycling of thermoforms depends on the ability to collect, transport, sort, clean, bale and remanufacture into new material/products in an economically competitive way with virgin material/product production. Issues such as adequate supply and demand, best sorting, cleaning, and baling processes, and reprocessing/remanufacturing technologies need to be addressed in order to incorporate thermoforms into the recycling infrastructure. For more information on how these considerations specifically inform recycling thermoforms, I urge you to download the entire Recycling Report at http://www.dordan.com. I will also be presenting these findings and more at Sustainable Plastics Packaging 2010 in Atlanta, December 8th and 9th. I look forward to seeing you there!

Good news!

October 13, 2010

Good news everyone!

The progress that is being made in recycling thermoforms will be available to the public sometime next week in the appendix of APRs/NAPCORs Report on PET Container Recycling Activity. Look out for it!

I am working on an abstract of my report on recycling thermoforms for publication in PlasticsNews. Upon its completion, I will post it here, so you—my packaging and sustainability friends—can read it first!

Have a splendid afternoon!

Good afternoon world! What a gorgeous day it is in Chicago! I am writing from my favorite Starbucks in downtown Chicago; it has a 360 degree view of all the hustle and bustle of a normal work day in the busy financial district!

So yea, my plan didn’t necessary go according to plan: I contacted one of the organizations that is responsible, in part, for the progress being made in recycling thermoforms and asked if they could produce some kind of press release detailing the progress being made, and referencing the responsible parties. My intention was that in having the responsible parties generate a press release, they could control the content and distribution, thereby allowing them to educate the industry on the progress in recycling thermoforms, while being recognized as those who have been driving said progress. After all, I have had nothing to do with the progress being made in the last 18 months, and in no way wish to take credit there for it; I simply wanted to inform the industry that progress was in fact being made, in hopes of elevating the reputation of our industry.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that the progress being made is at the point where the various organizations involved feel comfortable informing the industry for fear that the progress may somehow be halted. Whether or not that is the case, I have to respect their opinions as I respect the work they have done and in no way wish to be a deterrent to their continued work on this issue.

So, sorry guys…I guess all good things come to those who wait?

On a higher note, I have been invited to meet the gentleman speaking at an industry shin dig during Pack Expo, as he is a DePaul Fellow of the Business Ethics Institute. Because I am a DePaul alumni and received my bachelors degree in ethics, the event organizer thought I would like the opportunity to pick his brain, which I totally do!

Perhaps this will be a good time to look into furthering my education…muhahaha.

Have a jolly afternoon!

DA BEARSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Dordan is still relishing in its team’s win from last night; you can just feel the excitement in the office, or at least, smell the beer evaporating from our skin. Ha!

Good afternoon my packaging and sustainability friends. I have some SUPER exciting news!

Two weeks ago I emailed my recycling report (download it here: http://www.greenerpackage.com/recycling) to everyone and anyone I thought would benefit from the information. A colleague in the waste management industry responded thoughtfully (see September 20th’s post), as did some other stakeholders. While there feedback was very much appreciated, today I received the BEST feedback EVER!

Just moments ago I received a letter from someone who participates in the Walmart-Canada PET Subcommittee and represents an industry group explaining what progress has been made over the last 18 months in regard to recycling PET thermoforms! And let me tell you, progress has been made boy howdy! I am just tickled pink by these developments, which suggest that PET thermoforms can and WILL be recycled post consumer in North America in the not-too-distant future. Finally my dream of converting thermoforms collected via curbside into second generation thermoforms will be a reality and I will be able to say with pride that plastic packaging is recycled, not just “recyclable.” Hurray!

And, not to get all nostalgic and what not, but I don’t think I could have started this investigation at any better of a time: Had I started this clamshell recycling initiative years ago, the industry-momentum needed probably would not have existed, which I argue, is the result of the increased pressure on companies to integrate an end-of-life option into their packaging life cycle, among other contemporary developments. And, in only a year, not only have we uncovered the obstacles keeping thermoforms out of the recycling infrastructure, but we have begun to find a way to work toward their inclusion. Well done plastics industry!

 Now that I have dangled this fabulousness in front of you, I regret to inform you that I am unable to share this information until I receive the necessary approval. But don’t worry, as soon as I get the green light, you will be the first to know!

I am up to my ears in research but will get back to you tomorrow with all sorts of goodness.