Hey guys!

Happy July! I have a super-awesome blog post coming your way but FIRST, let us recap exciting developments in PET thermoform recycling!!! Afterall, this was the ENTIRE focus of my blog for the first two years of its life; consequently, I think it only fair to tip our hats to the industry and all those involved in the impressive journey to recycle clamshell packaging, narrated below.

On June 27, 2011, Plastics News published a story announcing that “Canada’s five grocery chains will require its suppliers to shift to PET clamshell thermoformed packaging in a move designed to simplify the product stream and increase recycling” (Miel, Canada’s Grocers: PET for Clamshells).

As described in my Recycling Report, developing the quantity necessary to sustain the process of recycling itself is crucial to the economic recovery of any packaging/material type. In encouraging suppliers transition thermoforms from PE/PS/etc. to PET, it is assumed that the amount of material available for recovery should increase, allowing for the efficient collection and repossessing thereof. In addition, replacing other resins with PET will reduce the amount of “look-alikes” in the recycling stream, limiting the likelihood of contamination from PVC, PETG, CPET, etc.

Kudos to Canadian grocers!

Click here for the full article.

On July 4, 2011, Plastics News reports, “Transitioning to adhesives that don’t hinder recycling could be one of the stickiest challenges that packaging thermoformers face in meeting the new mandate by the Retail Council of Canada that clamshell food packaging be made from PET by next year” (Verespeji, Adhesives Complicate Packaging Mandate). The article goes on to explain how most food thermoforms use pressure sensitive labels, which when recycled, gunk up the recyclate due to the aggressive properties of the adhesive. Consequently, retailers are working with “Adhesive and Sealant Council Inc. and the APR on a set of guidelines for labeling adhesives that will eliminate contamination from glues and labels” (Ibid).  

As per my Report, inks, labels and adhesives were another obstacle to PET thermoform recycling; thanks to the efforts of those cited above, these barriers (no pun intended) will soon be overcome. Awesome.

Click here for the full article.

On July 25, 2011, Plastics News announces that NAPCOR and SPI are to collaborate “in an initiative to propel the collection and recycling of thermoformed PET packaging…in a model program to demonstrate the economic feasibility of capturing the material” (Verespej, SPI Jumps on Thermoformed PET Recycling).

In my Recycling Report I emphasis the need for investment in recycling infrastructure and technology (collection, sortation, nourishment of domestic end markets, etc.) in regards to establishing the foundation on which PET thermoform recycling can thrive. I am SO proud of SPI, NAPCOR, and its member companies for developing this model program to determine the feasibility of nation-wide PET thermoform recycling.

Click here for the article.

On March 19, 2012, Plastics News announces the winners of the SPI/NAPCOR model PET thermoform grant! Click here for the winner descriptions!

AND, on June 29, 2012, Packaging Digest reports that, “…beginning immediately residents of single-family homes receiving recycling pick-ups [in Montgomery County, Maryland] can now add PET thermoform plastics to their recycling bins” (Spinner, SPI Boosts Recycling of PET Thermoforms in MD).

Click here for the full article!

Making moves in PET thermoform recycling! Can you believe our Green Manufacturer cover story narrating our efforts to recycling clamshell packaging came out almost a year ago!?! How time flies when progress is being made! I am so thrilled to have been part of the discourse on thermoform recycling and tickled pink to see the progress resulting since I first discovered that clamshell packaging was not recycled in 2009. I can’t believe that soon I will be able to say, without a doubt, that clamshell packaging IS recycled; take that paper people!

Hey!

It’s official! Check out the email I got from Cal Recycle last night:

Plastic Collection and Recycling Listserv

The National Association for PET Container Recources (NAPCOR) and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) have just issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a grant of up to $100,000 to be awarded for development of a model PET thermoform recycling program. Funds are available to any United States’ MRF or recycling program operator that can affect the variety of elements necessary for a successful program, as described more fully in the RFP.

The RFP is available for reviewing or download on the NAPCOR web site at http://www.napcor.com/PET/thermoRFP.html. Proposals are due on or before September 30, 2011.

AWESOME!

Go NAPCOR and SPI!!!

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).

Day 14: Oct. 27, 2009

February 17, 2010

The next day I arrived to the office full of enthusiasm; I had brought my favorite lunch—penne puntanesca and garlic bread—which ensured that no one in the office would want to talk to me for the duration of the afternoon. Silence is golden. 😉

After establishing that NAPCOR was super cool but a little outside our means at this time, I found another industry group dedicated to the use and recycling of plastics: APR stands for the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers. Like NAPCOR, they represent those in the industry that work with post consumer plastics. Their website reads:

Our goal is simple-we want to increase the amount of plastic material that is recycled in North America. We do that by sponsoring education workshops and ‘webinars’ designed to help local and state solid waste officials learn more about the technology of plastics recycling and the markets for material; holding design for recyclability workshops for packaging professionals; working to assist legislators to make decisions that enhance the recycling of plastics; and numerous other market development and technical programs.

RADICAL… I sent a letter of inquiry to the email provided:

Hello,

My name is Chandler Slavin—I am the Sustainability Coordinator at Dordan Manufacturing, which is a Midwestern based, national supplier of custom thermoformed solutions. We source post consumer RPET for manufacturing our packages and are currently investigating recycling options for the end-of-life management of our products. After visiting your web-site I am interested in your association and would like to know the process of applying for membership and also the advantages of being a member. Are any thermoform members in the APR?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to speaking with you soon!

Best,

Chandler Slavin

In a previous post I described a conversation I had with a representative from the SPI (plastics industry trade association); I discussed her desire to help increase the recycling rates of plastic packaging but emphasized her underlining understanding of economics and how such economics did not support such an initiative. During this conversation I suggested that the SPI revisit the resin ID numbers currently prescribed to different polymers used in plastic packaging in order to account for the introduction of PLA into the stream and make recycling of plastics easier. She subsequently indicated that a subcommittee was formed that year to address these concerns and indicated that she would follow up with me about their approach.

To my surprised, that day I received a follow-up email from this contact:

Hi Chandler,

Thanks so much for the call earlier and the great conversation. Sounds like you have your hands full with issues surrounding sustainability, “green-washing”, recycling, bio-resins, additives, resin identification code, Wal-mart Scorecard, and the ultimate goal of reclaiming all your clamshell packaging. These issues are being addressed in our processors council and materials supplier council predominantly.

I have touched base with our sales director in the Midwest. He will follow up with you to give you a better sense of the issues, including the above, that we are involved with on behalf of industry. And, certainly I am available as well.

Hurray; another bread crumb! Processors council and materials supplier council, eh? Time to do more research!

After lunch that day, I got a call from the Midwestern sales director of the SPI. He was really cool, and although he wasn’t totally versed in sustainability issues, he listened to what I had to say and told me he would put me in touch with someone at SPI that would be more of a help to me and my inquiries.

Splendid.

Ironically, later that day, just as I was assembling my things to catch the train back to Chicago, I received the following email:

Dear Plastics Industry Professional,

On September 23, 2009, ASTM International’s D20.95 subcommittee on Recycled Plastics distributed a new draft subcommittee ballot on the resin identification codes to its membership. There are 18 new items being balloted as part of the draft, which will update the original system developed in 1988 by SPI. Members of the D20.95 subcommittee are eligible to vote on the draft until its closing date on October 23, 2009. SPI is strongly encouraging all members of D20.95 to review and vote on this ballot.

Huh…so the SPI is reconsidering the resin ID numbers; that’s great! Although the language of this email is a little ambiguous, at least they are being proactive about these issues. I wonder how I get involved…

Just before I walked out the door, I sent the sales director of the SPI this follow-up email:

Hey, 

 I just wanted to send you a quick email to follow up with our phone conversation today. First, thank you for taking the time to talk with me about my concerns regarding the plastic packaging industry. As per our conversation, I was wondering if there were any contacts at your association who would like to have a dialogue with me about issues pertaining to sustainability and the plastic packaging industry. Aside from the millennial campaign and discussions about adding to the SPI resin identification number family, what else is SPI doing to confront the challenges facing our industry? How is SPI working to save the reputation of the plastic industry? What kind of initiatives is SPI taking to increase the sustainability profile of plastics? Is SPI considering different material recovery technologies or recycling programs?

As per our conversation, I have spent a considerable amount of time researching issues pertaining to plastic and sustainability. If there is anyone I could talk with, or would appreciate talking to me at SPI or one of its sister organizations, please let me know.  

Thanks!

Chandler

Tune in tomorrow for more recycling in America tidbits; good times!

Day 11: Oct. 25, 2009

February 5, 2010

Happy Friday!

I finally figured out how to add tags to my posts, hurray!

After tagging it up, I tried searching one of my tags in the wordpress.com search engine. I started with “clamshells” and what I found was all sorts of crazy stuff. My favorite is “Death to the Clamshell” at: http://envirogy.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/death-to-the-clamshell/. Check out my reply, it’s the last one.

Anyway, while waiting for the educational tour guide’s response, I began researching incineration as a form of energy recovery for plastic packaging. As briefly discussed in my last post, Belgium is at a 96% packaging waste recovery rate because of their sophisticated recycling and incineration infrastructure. That which they can’t recycle, they incinerate. Why don’t we do that here, I wondered.

After several googling sessions, I stumbled upon this “new” technology called Polyflow. I called the number provided on the website…

After a quick Q&A with their rep, I was a little skeptical about this technology because it just sounded too good to be true. Because I didn’t know much about it, I sent Robert the following inquiry:

Hey Robert,

How’s it going? I saw Where the Wild Things Are this past weekend and it was AWSOME! You must see it at your earliest convenience.

Okay, I don’t want to be a nuisance, but have you heard of Polyflow? It is this new technology that breaks the plastic polymer chain down into its chemical components by vapor and then reconstructs the molecules in order to create diesel and fossil fuel and the monomers that make plastic polymers. This technology supposedly takes all types of plastics not currently recycled by single stream and provides the feedstock for the above mentioned products. I spoke with a representative from Polyflow and he says that this system will be economically and environmentally sustainable next year but that they are still in the pilot phase and need additional funding to construct the actual facility that will house this technology.

Any knowledge about this waste management alternative?

Moreover, I have not heard back from the Environmental Director of Starbucks and was wondering if you had unearthed any contacts at your organization that would be able to help me implement my recycling program. I have a dialogue going with SPI, our industry association, but they don’t think the economics will support it.

Hope all is well!

Best,

Chandler

My reference to SPI, the Society of Plastics Industry, was legitimate; I had spoken with one of their reps about my concerns about the environmental and plastic, specifically, recycling, and it went no where.

I first spoke with the Senior Director of State Affairs, who does a lot of petitioning for plastic on our industry’s behalf. She was aware of all the obstacles facing our industry but didn’t seem interested in helping me increase the recycling rates of plastic packaging because, as she explained, it is just not economical: If people can buy virgin resin for cheaper than recycled resin why would we work to create an end-of-life market for mixed rigid plastic packaging?

My one suggestion was to change the SPI resin ID numbers on the back of plastic packages. For instance, the number “1” indicates PET but doesn’t specify the various fillers added to the PET polymer to enhance/alter its properties. Therefore, we manufacture APET, RPET, RPETG, PETG, etc. and they are all labeled as “1” as mandated by the SPI. Because of the different additives in these polymers, the recycling facility won’t accept any thermoforms labeled “1” because they do not know how that specific additive will influence the overall integrity of the bale. Therefore, although it may be the same material as that in PET bottles, they can’t integrate it into the bales to be reprocessed for fear of contamination.

As an aside, PLA is just making its introduction into the market and I don’t know if it has been assigned a resin ID number; therefore, sorters may not be able to distinguish PLA bottles from PET bottles, thereby increasing the chances that the PET stream will be contaminated by PLA. I don’t know what the PLA people have to say about it…I will follow up with some more research in future posts.

Do check out this article; it may provide insight into the ramifications of incorporating into the PET recycling stream: http://www.linkedin.com/news?viewArticle=&articleID=107200234&gid=160429&srchCat=RCNT&articleURL=http%3A%2F%2Fblogpackaging%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F2010%2F02%2Fbioplastics-and-oxo-degradables%2Ehtml&urlhash=oSuc.

Anyway, I suggested that SPI be proactive and work with recyclers to develop the best labeling for resins to increase the recyclability of plastic packaging. Although this contact did not know exactly how the SPI was handling the resin ID number situation, she did say that they had a subcommittee devoted to the investigation of these issues and she would follow up with me about this subcommittee…  

Tune in Monday to see Robert’s response to my Polyflow inquiry. Good stuff to come; have a splendid weekend!