Hey guys! My presentation to Woodstock High School science students went swimmingly! The kids were totally great and I was surprised how much fun I had! And, they were SO normal—not what I remember from living the dream in High School, ha!

The teacher had already introduced them to The Story of Stuff so they were familiar with life cycles, providing a nice foundation for discussions of life cycle analysis. Also, the AP class had been researching material health laws (ROHS, CONEG, etc.); this served as a great introduction to extended producer and voluntary responsibility programs. They especially enjoyed my profiling of TerraCycle and Ecovative as two “hip” sustainable start-ups and LOVED Ecovative’s Mushroom Duck! Hopefully I wet their whistle for an appetite of sustainability. But I was totally right—the environment IS seen as “cool” by students: they seemed to completely understand the less than favorable state of environmental affairs we had inherited and the need for more sustainable systems of production and consumption, even at the cost of convenience and altered social behaviors.

The concept I really nailed home—as it is the closest thing to a sustainable philosophy I could articulate— was that there is no waste in nature; everything serves to stimulate another perpetuation of life. This idea was first communicated to me in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things (the students had heard of this book!!!!)—via the symbol of the cherry tree: its cherries feed birds, the leaves perform photosynthesis feeding the tree, the pits of the cherries grow new trees, the fallen leaves decompose and fertilize the soil, and so on and so on. The authors encourage that we model human systems off those in nature—as nature is the ultimate closed loop system. Pretty neat! While I didn’t get a picture of the kids because we spent the leftover time taking about college and life abroad and the like, I DID snap this prom invite; enjoy!

Today we are going to pick up where we left off re: feedback from Sustainability in Packaging.

The last presentation in the “GPP and Proliferation of Tools” panel was titled “Are all Lifecycle Oriented Tools to Evaluate Packaging Created Equal?” by Tony Kingsbury of the Sustainable Products and Solutions Program at UC Berkeley.

Kingsbury began his presentation explaining how many tools have proliferated to meet the demand for sustainable packaging assessment resources; however, few understand how the resources differ. Consequently, UC Berkeley “tested” several popular packaging assessment tools by comparing the data outputs when comparing “apples-to-apples” within the different softwares; in other words, evaluating multiple product packages from the same category using different tools. Kingsbury postulated, “Are all life cycle tools created equal?”

Wow, I thought to myself. I had never heard of anyone comparing the data outputs of the different softwares when comparing the same packaging systems…I had always understood each tool as providing a different snapshot into the “sustainability” of a package/product/service…this outta be interesting…

The study compared the data outputs of popular packaging assessment tools COMPASS, GaBi, SimaPro, Sustainable Minds, and the Walmart Packaging Scorecard. The product package categories selected were cookies, milk, diapers, and 16 oz. cups; and, the scenarios considered were source reduction, recycled content, and shipping distance.

Check out the screen shots from Kingsbury’s PPT below as these demonstrate the study findings:

As per these findings, different tools treat different materials…differently.

Kingsbury then went on to draw some conclusion from the test findings, insofar as the best way to capitalize on the tools is concerned. For Kingsbury, source reduction is the best way to improve your Score, regardless of the tool used, as weight is such a dominating factor in life cycle analysis. Recycled content is good, as long as it doesn’t add weight. Shipping long distance is “always a poor choice;” and, end of life scenarios differ so distinctively between tools that this should not be a high priority.

Lastly, Kingsbury described some of the inherent inadequacies of LCA tools today, insofar as inaccurate data, data holes, and built-in assumptions and methodologies are concerned.

The final study will be available in a month; I will be sure to include a link when it goes live.

And by the way, that’s what I am talking about in this video interview at Sustainability in Packaging.

Thanks yall! Talk soon!

Hey!

Dr. Karli Verghese definitely knows a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to life cycle analysis.

She is the author of a book chapter titled “Selecting and Applying Tools,” which comes highly recommended for those investigating the various LCA packaging-specific tools available. You can find this resource via the following reference information:

Selecting and Applying Tools, Karli Verghese & Simon Lockrey, Pages 251-283, in Packaging for Sustainability, Editors: Karli Verghese, Helen Lewis, Leanne Fitzpatrick, ISBN: 978-0-85729-987-1 (Print) 978-0-85729-988-8 (Online).

Also, as explained during her presentation at Sustainability in Packaging, she authored the book “Packaging for Sustainability,” to be published in April 2012 and available at http://www.springer.com.

Ok so I am trying to do the best job describing the insights outlined in Verghese’s presentation BUT please note that she spoke quickly and my fingers can only type notes so fast!

Verghese began explaining how the conversation about packaging sustainability has evolved from a materials focus (material A vs. B) to a systems focus, where the interaction between the product and packaging in a supply chain system becomes paramount. She qualified this statement with reference to several examples, the first of which, an Australian study that investigated the environmental impact of corn chips. Verghese inquired “Is it the corn chips or the bag (400 gram packets of corn chops, aluminum foil retail bag, corrugated box)”?

The study determined that the environmental impacts in CO2 equivalents are as follows:

Life cycle stage 1, pre-farm= 6%
Life cycle stage 2, on-farm= 36%
Life cycle stage 3, post-farm= 58%

Within this analysis, packaging accounts for 21% of overall systems environmental impacts; supply chain transport accounts for 9%.

Verghese’s next example inquired, “Is it the wine or the bottle?” By reference to another LCA-base study, Verghese demonstrated that the environmental “hot spot” was during the production of grapes for the wine i.e. viniculture.

These types of analysis supported Verghese’s assumption that a systems approach to packaging sustainability is favorable to the previous materials-focus i.e. paper vs. plastic.

Verghese then moved onto a discussion about how to select the “right” packaging assessment tool, based on a variety of considerations stemming from one’s business and sustainability strategy(s) and packaging sustainability policy.

Because the insights to follow via Verghese’s presentation were SO valuable, I decided to compile them—- in addition to those previously discussed in the panel session—- into a Report that should aid interested parties in understanding the available tools for assessing packaging sustainability; and, provide guidance for how to select the “right” tool based on one’s specific business question. Click the following link to download the Report; please consult the footnotes for proper reference of information sources.

How to Assess Sustainable Packaging

My next post will discuss a recent UC Berkely study that compares the data out puts of the various LCA packaging specific tools.

Hey! 

The second session of day one at Sustainability in Packaging was titled “Global Packaging Project and the Proliferation of Tools: How to Quantify the Data and Choose the Tools that Work,” including presentations from Procter & Gamble, RMIT University, UC Berkely, and PepsiCo.

First up was Alan Blake of Procter & Gamble, to present on “Practical Applications of the Global Packaging Project.”

Blake began by contextualizing the work of the Global Packaging Project, which as I have blogged about before, grew out of the Consumer Goods Forum and looks to develop a common language for packaging and sustainability. The action plan of the GPP was to begin by developing common metrics and indicators for assessing sustainable packaging; after which, test the established framework and measurement system via pilots. Consequently, pre-existing internationally recognized metrics balanced across the spectrum of sustainability were investigated, culminating in the GPP’s “dictionary of metrics;” this consists of 13 environmental attributes, 14 LCI indicators, 2 economic indicators, and 11 social indicators. After conducting 30 pilots via Walmart and P&G participation, the GPP released the Guidelines, which are intended to aid firms in answering specific business questions in the context of packaging/product environmental performance. Blake suggested visiting the GPP’s website, http://globalpackaging.mycgforum.com/ concluding, “GPP metrics should be integrated into the way you work today.” 

Next Blake moved onto a discussion of how the Guidelines are actually applied via several case studies that began with a specific business question:

Case study 1: what is the benefit of 20% less HDPE in a bottle? Bottle= 100 g –> 80 g 

GPP Common Metrics

Current

Proposed

Packaging Weight and Minimization

315 g

195 g

Case study 2: What is the benefit of 2X compacted product?

GPP Common Metrics

Current

Proposed

Packaging Weight and Minimization

315 g

195 g

Transport Packaging Cube Efficiency

75%

68%

Packaging to Product Weight Ratio

4.92g/load

3.04/g/load

Climate Change (GHG)

 

Transportation savings? 

Case study 3: What is the benefit of HDPE sourced from sugar cane? Bottle= petro –> renewable

Attributes of business question include: renewable content, material waste, chain of custody, water from stressed resources, environmental management system, energy audits.

The life cycle indicators of business question include all life cycle metrics (14); the social indicators of business question include all social metrics (11); therefore, in order to answer this business question, a total of 31 GPP metrics need to be consulted. 

Blake states, “The range of metrics depends on the business question.”In the first case study where the proposed packaging change was light-weighting, only 1 GPP metric pertained; in the second case study where the proposed change was compaction, 4 GPP metrics pertained; and, in the third case study where the proposed change was new HDPE source, 31 metrics needed investigation. Therefore, depending on your business sustainability strategy and sustainable packaging policy, different business questions re: sustainable packaging will appear more “appealing” than others due to the commitment required with data collection inherent in the different changes proposed.

Blake finishes his discussion by providing the following template for using the Guidelines of the GPP:

1. Define question

2. Determine scope

3. Select metrics

4. Gather data

5. Review data quality

6. Communicate business decision

My next post will discuss Dr. Karli Verghese’s presentation, “Developing the Corporate Strategy or Packaging Sustainability and Integrating Tools into the Product-Packaging Development Process.” Dr. Verghese is the Program Director of the Sustainable Products and Packaging Center at the Centre for Design at RMIT University. 

Hey guys!

The 6th Annual Sustainability in Packaging Conference was held at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, Florida, March 12th-14th. The first day of the conference was reserved exclusively for intensive workshops that were not included in the price of registration. I attended this event last year when, as a speaker, I got to attend the workshops for free! It was here I met Dr. Ramani Narayan, who lectured on the value proposition of bio-based plastics for four hours (see my post from March 24th, 2011)! Anyway, the titles of this years’ workshops include: “Four Things Green Marketing Gets Wrong” (Shelton Group), “Understanding and Implementing Sustainable Packaging Concepts—Using Biobased Carbon Content and Design for End-of-Life Options” (Michigan State University), Packaging your Sustainability Strategy (PAC NEXT), “End of Life Options and Challenges” (Darby Marketing), and “Plastics—Sustainability from Use through End-of-Life” (ACC).

The first day of the conference began with opening remarks from John Kalkowski of Packaging Digest, who reflected on the past six years of the Sustainability in Packaging conferences. Beginning with a “what the heck is sustainability” mentality, Kalkowski explained how, with each passing year, the dialogue became more sophisticated, the number of registered attendees increased, and science moved to center stage. For Kalkowski, “it’s exciting to see how its grown,” which speaks to the industry’s commitment to sustainability.

He concluded his introductory remarks by highlighting the main theme we were sure to hear resonate from the various voices included in the conference agenda: that sustainability drives innovation, and visa versa. 

The first panel titled “Driving Packaging Innovation in the Supply Chain to Keep the Value Proposition” included presentations from PepsiCo, S.C Johnson and Nestle.  

First up was Tony Knoerzer of PepsiCo—he is the gentleman responsible for the Sun Chips compostable bag. In explaining his experiences bringing the compostable bag from R&D to market, Tony provided insight into how PepsiCo integrated innovation into the supply chain. Here are a couple presentation take-aways:

Knoerzer touched on the age-old debate of using food (corn) to produce compostable plastics—as in the case with the PLA-based Sun Chips bag—when so many people are starving, by emphasizing the importance of “context.” According to Knoerzer, in the US, 40% of the corn grown is harvested for conversion into ethanol due to governmental subsidies. Therefore, it is in PepsiCo’s opinion that compostable plastics should not be targeted for compromising the food supply because so much more is being harvested for ethanol when compared with that used for PLA production.

Knoerzer inquired, “How do you create value in supply chains?”

Historically, it has been by leveraging scale in order to attain operational excellence and organizational capability. Innovation, however, by its nature lacks scale; therefore, organizations need time to achieve organizational excellence.

The way to facilitate this transition is through collaboration with suppliers with whom you develop a shared knowledge strategy. This relationship looks to build trust and a long-term agenda; to replace anecdotal data with hard facts; and, allow for the interaction of technology, which rests entirely on the ability to move past a pre-competitive strategy. “A supplier is not a grocery store of technology to be acquired. Invest in what you need to know, with the right horsepower; if you think knowledge is expensive, try ignorance.”

A low chuckle murmurs throughout the crowd. After an enthusiastic applause, Will Archer of S.C. Johnson takes to the podium.

Archer’s presentation is titled “Sustainable Packaging Advances in the Marketplace” and looks to demonstrate how S.C. Johnson’s approach to sustainability works to meet the sustainability needs of the consumer AND the company simultaneously.

A couple presentation take aways:

Archer asked, “What is sustainable product development?” 

There is the “green brand approach,” which looks to develop a “sustainable product” for the conscious consumer; and, the “holistic approach,” which looks to “green the whole company.” S.C. Johnson is of the later camp. It’s logo “People Planet Profit” represents the firm’s value driver that “sustainability is about sustaining the company as well as the planet.”

Archer referenced the case study of S.C. Johnson’s cleaning product concentrates as example of how both the sustainability needs of the consumer and company were met:

Cleaning product concentrates use less packaging, decreasing shipping impacts and reducing waste. However, US consumers prefer not to refill their cleaning bottles; this has resulted in stores refusing to stock concentrates and companies hesitant to create them.

Taking this into consideration, S.C. Johnson launched its Windex mini concentrates, which sold online paired with a trigger bottle in each package. This approach to selling cleaning product concentrates resonated with the consumer, who found ease with purchasing online and appreciated the “starter kit” format. S.C. Johnson also quantified the environmental savings for the consumer, including language like, “Using the Windex mini concentrates instead of the traditional Windex product is the equivalent to removing xxxx cars off the road…”

Archer concluded, “It’s about progress, not perfection.”

Next up was Lars Lunquist of Nestle. The name of his presentation was “Driving Packaging Research in the Health Food and Wellness Industry.” He began,

“There is need for alignment around common principles, definitions…the role of packaging in the supply chain.”

When understanding “sustainability” as it pertains to food packaging, it is important to understand the following context: The three industries with the largest degree of environmental negative impact, from least to most, are furnishings, transport, and food. Recent studies by WRAP and others have shown we waste 40% of food in developing countries before it reaches the consumer due to inefficient logistics. Food product packaging represents only 21% of the food product total LCA. Therefore, packaging protecting and preserving the food product is key when discussing issues of sustainable packaging in the food industry.

Then Lundquist moved onto a discussion of the structure of Nestle’s packaging research program:

“For a company with 10,000 products, LCA is not the appropriate tool to feed innovation.” It is too slow, and it usually comes at the end of product development when the cost of change is extremely high.

Therefore, Nestle uses PIQUET—a LCA-based assessment tool tailored to food and beverage packaging—in the product/packaging developmental process. This tool allows Nestle to understand its impact categories, isolating hot spots and areas of improvement.

Lundquist then moved onto a discussion of end-of-life management for packaging. Consider the following take-aways:

“Bioplastics—are they compostable or renewable or both?”

For Lundquist, compostability is inherently interpreted as good for the environment, though few understand the environmental impact of composting. Aerobic composting “doesn’t deliver any value; it is one of the worst end of life scenarios.”

There is more potential in the renewable aspect of these materials. But, one must take into account the agro-related impacts i.e. eutrophication, water, mineral and biotic consumption, etc.

With recycling, people talk about it as though it is the panacea of waste management practices for packaging. However, “there are limits to recycling.” We need to consider waste-to-energy and other recovery options.

Lundquist concluded by emphasizing the need for a “holistic approach” to understanding packaging and sustainability, referencing the work of the Global Packaging Project.

For the GPP, Lundquist explained, the emphasis is not on the packaging exclusively, but the interaction between the package and product and packaging system through which the item is fulfilled, distributed, and recovered.

My next post will move on to a discussion of the following panel titled, “Global Packaging Project and the Proliferation of Tools: How to Quantify and Choose the Tools that Work.” 

Hellllllooooooo my long lost packaging and sustainability friends! Oh how I’ve missed you!

Vacation was awesome (isn’t it always?). The Sustainability in Packaging Conference was pretty cool, too! AND, the big deadline—which meeting required all of my time—has come and gone! Click here to read my latest white paper (bottom of homepage), “The Value Good Buyers can deliver: How to Develop a Customized and Competitive Purchasing Agenda.” This research describes contemporary thinking on strategic sourcing and cross-functional supply-chains in order to allow for innovation. Its totally crazy because the last day of Sustainability in Packaging included a panel discussion titled, “Partnering for Long Term Innovation;” Jeff Waymen, Director of Strategic Sourcing for McDonald’s, Scott Vitters, General Manager, PlantBottle Packaging, and Randy Boeller, Packaging Engineering Manager, Hewlett Packard, described their experiences facilitating innovation at their respected firms through collaboration with supply chain partners. One story that really resonated with me includes that delivered by Mr. Boeller, who explained how purchasing needs to be compensated for total net savings—as opposed to simply price reduction—in order to allow for innovation. Consider the following case study:

HP discovered a low-weight plastic pallet that significantly reduced its airfreight expenditures. These plastic pallets were four-times more expensive than HP’s current, wooden pallets. When instructing purchasing to substitute its cheaper wooden pallets with the more expensive yet lightweight plastic pallets, the project manager was met with significant resistance albeit purchasing; s/he would be penalized if the pallet part price increased, though the overall net gain to the company was significantly higher than the savings incurred from cheaper pallet part price. Consequently, HP had to revise its compensation policy to allow purchasing management to benefit from a more value- vs. cost-based approach to sourcing.

After each presenter on its experiences generating innovation via supply chain collaboration, I asked the following question, which curtails on the above HP case study:

“Hello, it’s Chandler Slavin with Dordan Manufacturing, again (I had asked an annoying amount of questions in the days’ sessions). Randy (HP), you said, “the way we are measuring performance is driving away innovation.” Can you and the panel expand on how you believe other organizations can learn to integrate a more cross-functional approach to purchasing? I have witnessed experiences in which purchasing made a decision based solely on part price as opposed to taking a more holistic approach to sourcing that emphasized value added services, such as innovation and security of supply…”

Randy of HP explained that a cross-functional approach to sourcing—which is as much involved with the supplying company as its own internal agenda—“was key.” For Randy, “cross-functional” was synonymous with the retro buzz-word “matrix,” which has for a long time encouraged a more sophisticated and transparent approach to purchasing that demands an intimate relationship between the business, and sourcing, agenda(s).

 The rest of the panel agreed.

 So yeah, what a coincidinc! It’s awesome that in researching for my latest white paper I was able to establish the intellectual foundation on which I could ask the sharpest minds in the game what they thought about what I thought! I feel like I’m back in school again hurray!

OKKKK sorry about that tangent. Ok, my next post is going to discuss the first portion of feedback from Sustainability in Packaging. I took over 15 pages of notes so get excited!

Have a great weekend! It’s 75 and sunny in Chicago. I’m totally confused, but in an awesome way. 

Hello my packaging and sustainability friends!!!

I have so much to tell you! Where to begin where to begin…

Well, let’s talk about recycling thermoforms, as that is my first love—after Italian beefs—of course.

Prior to my presentation at Sustainability in Packaging in Orlando last week, I wanted to make sure that all my information on the state of blister/clamshell recycling AND progress being made in recycling thermoforms was as accurate and up to date as possible. After all, I wrote the original Recycling Report over a year ago, so I assumed that some things had changed. I don’t know if I had told you guys this before but a colleague from the SPC sent me an email several weeks back with an attachment outlining specs for mixed PET bales, including thermoform containers. Check it out here:

Mixed PET specs, ISRI

I sent this gentleman a follow up email, inquiring into what was implied by these specs: ARE thermoforms and bottles collected for recycling, as indicated by these specs for mixed PET bales? If so, who is collecting them i.e. private entity vs. municipality? What is the sorting technology used to separate the PET thermoforms from other “look-a-likes?” Where is this sorting happening i.e. MRF vs. PRF? AND, where do these mixed PET bales go after collection i.e. what is the end market?

After not hearing back from said gentleman, I reached out to ISRI, which is the organization that published the specs. Several unsuccessful attempts later, I finally got a hold of the Marketing Manager, who explained he is no expert on specs. He was very nice, however, and asked that I rephrase my inquiry in an email and he will see to it that the necessary party gets back to me ASAP. So, I sent him this email:

Hey!

This is Chandler with Dordan. As per our conversation, I have spent a lot of time researching recycling plastic packaging, specifically thermoform packaging, like clamshells and blisters. I have become an industry educator, explaining why thermoform containers are not recycled in most American communities, due to economics, sorting technologies, etc., in hopes that in understanding the problems, the industry can begin developing solutions (they are).

At my last industry presentation, I explained that MRFs do not collect PET clamshells for recycling because there is no end market and there is no end market because there is none collected for reprocessing (with the exception of international consumption of mixed rigids due to low labor costs for manual separation) i.e. the chicken and the egg of supply and demand. While there is a very strong PET bottle recycling infrastructure, the same can’t be said for PET clamshells because lack of investment, technology, etc.

ANYWAY, one of my arguments explaining why thermoforms are not collected for recycling is because there are no specs for collection and baling. After making such a statement, a colleague emailed me the attached document (PET specs.), indicating that there ARE specs for PET thermoforms as per ISRI.

So these are my questions:

Is post consumer PET packaging (rigid containers, bottles, jars, tubs and trays) collected at MRF’s for recycling, as per the spec sheet attached?

If so, do you know what MRF is collecting these materials for recycling; who purchases the mixed bales; and, what the material becomes after reprocessing? I know that that is a loaded question—I am just trying to understand if these types of materials are in fact collected for recycling, and if so by whom, how, where, and what the end market is.

Check out my attached PowerPoint Recycling Report: the truth about blister/clamshell recycling in America for clarification on my goal– which is to educate packaging/sustainability professionals about the economics/realities of recycling packaging post consumer in America, with special attention at recycling PET clamshells (thermoforms).

Does this make any sense?!?

Wowza!

Any feedback you could provide would be well received.

Thanks!

Chandler

While in Orlando, I received an email from my ISRI contact explaining that he had forward my inquiry onto the necessary party who would get back to me ASAP. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a hold of this gentleman before my presentation, so I hinted at the possibility that specs for mixed thermoform and bottle bales exist, though I explained I was currently investigating the implication of this information.

Also, as articulated in a previous post, after my presentation in Atlanta several weeks back at Sustainable Plastics Packaging, a gentleman from NURRC approached me, explaining that his company recycles post consumer curb side collected PET thermoforms and bottles at their southeastern facility. After this proclamation, I received an invitation to tour the facility, to confirm with my own eyes that the recycling of PET thermoforms was very much a reality (EXCITING!!!). While I had to push back the trip due to other work commitments, I have every inkling to follow through with his suggestion to see the recycling of thermoforms in action. I wonder if they would let me take pictures or even FILM their recycling process…that would be soooo cool! But now I am getting a head of myself.

ANYWAY, I thought that NURRC would serve as a fabulous case study in regard to progress being made in recycling thermoforms, so several weeks before leaving for Orlando, I contacted my NURCC rep and asked if I could use his company as an example of closed-loop progress in recycling thermoforms. He was super thrilled at the opportunity—explaining he could even send pictures—but said he just needed to receive the company’s partners’ blessing, because this entity funded the installation of a lot of the sorting and reprocessing technology. A half an hour before my presentation was scheduled to begin, I still had not received the partners’ approval—my NURRC contact explained that this entity had a holiday the day before and it wasn’t a top priority so he would therefore be unable to grant permission for me to use NURRC as a case study of progress being made in recycling thermoforms. DANGIT. While I still had every intention of highlighting the progress being made in the infrastructural approach to recycling thermoforms i.e. NAPCOR’s Thermoform Division, I was totally bummed I couldn’t highlight another, more privatized approach.

Sitting pool side, I was racking my brain for a good way to finish the “progress in recycling thermoforms” section…without NURRC’s blessing (I had received information on sorting technology used and other possibly sensitive information), I was unsure how to end on a bang. What I finally decided on was to highlight Dordan’s commitment to transparency: I explained that while some people just don’t get why I would go around saying thermoforms are not really recycled—at least in 60% or more American communities—I thought it was my responsibility to be honest because nothing ever changes if you don’t challenge the status quo. And I really, really, want to see our packages recycled in the future—it is not some marketing ploy but a genuine commitment to do good business and good by the environment. And I have to say, I think my presentation overall was received SO much better this time around because I was myself, explaining where I and my company were coming from in regard to our journey to sustainability, and didn’t make any excuses. I am very happy with the reception of my presentation, as I had numerous people approach me afterwards complimenting me on my honesty and articulating support for Dordan going out on a limb to move the dialogue around sustainability forward.

At the networking reception that night, the president of AMUT approached me, explain that his company makes machinery for thermoforming, extruding, AND recycling. He highlighted the recent developments at Ice River Springs in Canada (they are the first bottle-to-bottle recycling and bottling facility in North America) and others who esteem that they have purchased the equipment necessary to recycle PET thermoforms and bottles together. This guy definitely knows his stuff! I can’t WAIT to talk to him further about the different types of recycling machinery available in the context of PET recycling and how the machinery AMUT offers works to alleviate the previously articulated technical barriers to recycling PET thermoforms. Pending his approval, I will upload his presentation to my blog, as it provides the most technically holistic treatment of the process of recycling thermoforms for reprocessing into second generation thermoforms. Perhaps I can finally start working on Dordan’s next marketing campaign: “Our packages are made out of our competitors’ packages!” I don’t think I came up with that, but it certainly has a ring to it!!!

I can’t believe how much I have rambled. I hope I haven’t been a bore! I am waiting to hear back from the Marketing Director of the conference to ensure there are no policies against me discussing the content of the conference in my blog. Stay tuned!!!!

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!!!!!!!!

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!

Heyyyyyyy! I just booked my flights to Orlando to speak at Sustainability in Packaging, Feb. 22nd-24th. Hurray!

AND, drum roll please, DA BEARS! It is going to be an awesome showdown between the Packers and the Bears—I can’t wait!

Sooo today is going to be a longer post, providing feedback from Sustainable Plastics Packaging and the Walmart SVN I attended the second week of December.

Let’s see…I know I summarized most of the SPP conference…where did I leave off…

That’s right: My December 29th post finished with my comments about Brandimage—an industrial designer firm, which developed a silly molded pulp water bottle.

The next presenter was Patty from Klockner Pentaplast—she has always been very nice to me and when I found out she was presenting at the same conference I emailed her saying good luck and explaining how nervous I was. She replied that I should think of the audience as the fathers, brothers, daughters, mothers—real people— they are and how I wouldn’t be nervous presenting in front of my own mother, sister, etc.; therefore, why should I be nervous presenting in front of these people? I thought that was really awesome advice…

ANYWAY, Patty gave a really great presentation insofar as she made an argument for plastic packaging in the context of sustainability. By describing a case study in which her company and its partner worked with a pizza producer to redesign its packaging to be more efficient, Patty illustrated how in switching the fiber-based box for a flexible plastic tray and lid, the shelf life of the pizza itself was greatly extended. Because a TON of our natural resources are consumed in the production of food, it is super duper important to ensure that the package medium used to get the foodstuff from the point of production to consumption is efficient and protects the product from spoilage and other health/quality concerns. PlasticsNews reporter Mike Verespej does a great job tying Patty’s argument that packaging can reduce total system waste i.e. food spoilage, into some of the other points made throughout the conference in this article.

And before I forget, it is important to understand that fiber-based pizza boxes are not usually accepted for recycling due to the high concentration of food contamination; be it plastic or paper, the liklihood that this packaging type is or will be recycled is very, very low, due to the economics of cleaning this material for reprocessing.

AND I loved Patty’s reference to “Frustration Free” packaging. As most of you know, I represent a thermoformer of clamshells, which are often times blamed for igniting RAGE in consumers due to their inability to penetrate the cold, plastic exterior of the package to get to the product itself. I wrote a satirical piece on wrap rage in the perceptive section of PlasticsNews; check it out here, it’s sort of funny.

Anyway, Amazon.com came out with “Frustration Free” packaging, which supposedly is mostly fiber-based and allows consumers to easily remove their products, without falling into the much-feared WRAP RAGE state of confusion. The specific example she gave were for CDs: previously packaged in a plastic clamshell to ensure product protection throughout the shipping supply chain, Amazon now packages CDs in a paper envelope with padding. According to customer accounts, numerous CDs were received broken, which ultimately resulted in more supply chain waste when compared with the plastic clamshell package that resulted in no product rejects. Go figure! I guess it depends what your priorities are: an intact product or a package that allows you to tear into it with your bear claws…

OH, before I forget, Mark of Brandimage did make some really great points about how consumers make decisions. He referenced Harvard academic Zaitman, who spent extensive time researching how consumers react to ads and products, concluding that most consumers’ decisions to buy or not to buy are based on 5% conscious thought and 95% unconscious thought. CRAZY! So much for market research, ha! No, but in all seriousness, I do think there is something to say with how a lot of our decisions are based on emotion instead of logical reasoning. After all, I really don’t think I need a crystal Chicago skyline paperweight, but when I saw it at the checkout counter just staring at me in all its reflectivity and gloss, I couldn’t help myself! So yea, he called this immeasurable reality between conscious and unconscious thought in the context of dictating consumers’ reactions to products, “creative economy.”

OK, next I want to talk about Terry of the Shelton Group. Her company provides LCA software that allows product producers to quantify the environmental profile of their products in the design phase. Like COMPASS, this software allows you to build a product archetype i.e. toaster, and then manipulate different aspects of the product i.e. material and/or electrical components, to see where your environmental “hot spots” are in order to work to elivaite said hot spots in your supply chain. So, if you were sourcing your toasters from aluminum mined in the Far East (I am being vague because I have NO idea how this resource is procured for industry) and found out that the process of aluminum production for your toaster results in the highest concentration of VOC emissions, or something, you could choose to source your aluminum from a recycled aluminum mill domestically located, thereby reducing the total supply chain and overall “carbon footprint” of the product. She also referenced the Storyofstuff.com, which is a cartoony representation of the inefficiencies of most product productions’ supply chain. Check out there most recent cartoon, the Story of Electronics, here.

Terry suggested that from a competitive standpoint, one could use this software to conduct LCAs of a concept vs. a manufactured good vs. your competitor’s good and make an argument depending on the software data output in the context of sustainability.

OH, and for more information on this product LCA software (she did some live demos and it seems AWESOME), visit sustainableminds.com and sign up for their free webinars.

Next I want to summarize Sean of ModusLink’s presentation, as it was the first time I was ever introduced to such a macrocosm view of “sustainability.” For those of you unfamiliar, ModusLink is a company that specializes in taking consumer electronic products from the point of conception i.e. an awesome new invention or product, to the point of production through fulfillment, distribution, and consumption. Because most of their clients are large consumer electronic manufacturers, which is itself an extremely competitive market, ModusLink uses various tools that allow them to take a supply-chain approach and determine the most efficient, and therefore “sustainable” way to move product throughout the supply chain. In order to put the audience in a total supply-chain frame of mind, Sean gave the following example of how manufacturing, assembly, logistics, and environment must all be taken into account when assessing a product’s total supply chain:

Ex1: Overseas manufacturing of product and packaging

Low cost of labor
Low raw material costs
High logistics costs
High green house gas emissions

VS.

Ex2: Domestic manufacturing of product and packaging

High cost of labor
High material costs
Low logistic costs
Low GHG emissions

In a nut shell: there is always a tradeoff; ModusLink will assess the tradeoffs via fancy software and present clients with the most efficient option for supply chain management.

The software cited during Sean’s presentation, which I know so little about, are:
Lllamasoft/Tableau/CAD/ESKO.

And that’s the last presentation of the day I saw! I skipped out and had non-hotel produced food for the first time in days with Sean!

And again, for more feedback on this conference, check out the editorials in PlasticsNews!

AND, to end today’s post, check out this abstract art collection of environmental disaster photographs. My favorite is the “Facial Tissues” image showing the pollution resulting from pulp mills in the production of Kleenex and what not.

Tootles!