Friday, October 31st, 2014

SPI 2014 Student Video Contest Offers Biggest Prize Package in Contest History

$8,500 in Cash, All-Expense-Paid Trip to NPE2015 Still Up For Grabs

Entrants in the Plastic Industry’s 2014 Student Video Contest, hosted by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the Future of Plastics Foundation, aren’t just competing to create the best video that smartly and creatively explores the plastics industry’s bright future. They’re also competing for the largest prize package in contest history.

SPI and the Future of Plastics Foundation, along with the contest’s generous sponsors, will award prizes to the top three submissions. Third place gets $3,500, second place gets $5,000 and, if offering the biggest prize pool in the contest’s history wasn’t a big enough milestone, for the first time ever, the grand prize winner of the Student Video Contest will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Orlando, Fla. for NPE2015, the premier event for the entire plastics industry.NPE_logo

This year’s contest asks students to submit 2-4 minute videos on the theme of “Innovating in the 21st Century,” challenging graduate and undergraduate students, as teams and/or as individuals, to explore the future of plastics in the realms of innovation, design freedom and the economics of plastics. Prior contests have focused on the history of plastics and how the world’s brightest minds have relied on these materials to carry society into the modern era, like 2012’s first and second place winners.

“But the truth is that the story of plastic’s past has already been told; we want students to tell us the story of plastic’s future,” said SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux when this year’s contest launched. “Many of the items that we take for granted today seemed like science fiction even a decade ago, but what innovations in plastic will we be saying that about in 10, 25 or even 50 years from now? That’s the question we want our best and brightest to answer in the 2014 Student Video Contest and its theme of ‘Innovating in the 21st Century.’”

Entries will be accepted until Nov. 30. If you’re a full-time undergraduate or graduate student in a plastics program, and want a shot at $3,500, $5,000 or an all-expenses-paid trip to the world’s largest plastics trade show and conference, click over to SPI’s Student Video Contest website for details, and let us know what you think the future holds in store for the plastics industry.

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Atlanta Fashion Students Create Couture From Recycled Plastics

One-of-a-Kind Designs to Take Center Stage at SPI’s NPE2015  Trade Show

As society becomes more environmentally conscious, the fashion industry – like the plastics manufacturing industry – is rethinking some of its recycling rituals to ensure that Mother Earth doesn’t feel negative effects from its presence, thanks to SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association’s partnership with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta. Together, industry and academia create clothing worthy of Vogue and Bazaar with a twist – that is, the designs will be made from repurposed plastic products and resin-based fabrics made from post-consumer recycled content.

Savannah College of Art and Design students who are working with SPI to create high-fashion designs made from repurposed post-consumer plastics.

Savannah College of Art and Design students who are working with SPI to create high-fashion designs made from repurposed post-consumer plastics.

Kim Holmes, SPI’s recycling expert, is advising the students about the use of appropriate materials as well as helping the designers locate the recycled materials, which include bubble wrap, plastic bags, a parachute, bicycle tire inner tubes, vinyl, Frisbees and many, many yoga mats (a student suggested cutting up yoga mats for pockets and other textured designs). Each one-of-a-kind design will premiere during the opening ceremony at NPE2015 March 23-27, 2015, in Orlando, Fla., and will be displayed throughout the show in SPI’s Zero Waste Zone.

“In 2012, when SPI expanded its mission to include the pursuit of zero waste, the idea was to engage its members in addressing the issues of sustainability and recycling through sound solutions” said Holmes. “The SCAD project demonstrates SPI’s commitment to zero waste by giving plastic materials more than one life.”

“Plastics manufacturing professionals who attend SPI’s international trade show are likely to be surprised at the level of creativity students are using to transform recovered plastics materials into fashionable clothing,” Holmes said. In a recent video conference with Holmes, nine SCAD students used PowerPoint slides to present draft sketches of the designs, which will be accompanied by accessories like jewelry and hats. The students described the recovered plastics they intend to use along with a plan to collect the materials.

As a group, the SCAD students have been working on campus since mid-September to collect certain plastic items such as plastic forks, spoons, bags and cups. Beyond campus searches, they have perused the likes of ebay, second-hand shops and their own homes for a used parachute, playpen plastic balls and parlor beads. One student mentioned rummaging through her grandmother’s house for plastic doilies.

“There’s no end to the imagination the SCAD students use in their designs,” Holmes added.

Student Aida Bajramovic, a refuge from Bosnia, “wants to create something beautiful out of something ugly and harsh.” For inspiration, she offered a photograph from the war which shows a beautifully dressed Bosnian woman against the backdrop of a warzone to show contrast. As Bajramovic described, “The strength is evident as this lovely woman is determined to carry on life despite the condition surrounding her.”

Bajramovic’s sketch illustrated a gown with white plastic mesh around the waist to represent a belt and a flying disc as a head accessory.

Classmate Latonya Lark, a self-described “natural girl,” is not accustomed to working with plastics, yet she’s found that the materials are forgiving and lend themselves to different shapes and uses. Along with her peers, she presented the idea of melting plastic spoons together to create flowered accessories, among other interesting uses of plastics materials. Lark, a sculpture major, will experiment with fosshape, polystrol and wonderflex to give her recycled fashion structure.

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A SCAD student creatively positions a strip of post-consumer plastic.

Meanwhile, and Siobhan Mulhern is weighing the use of plastic shopping bags and playpen plastic balls as another student talked about using pieces of an old chandelier to add texture to her designs.

According to Holmes, each student will create sketches and a design plan for two outfits during the 10-week course. SPI expects the excitement and interest associated with this program will showcase another alternative use of plastic materials. Follow us on Twitter at SPI_4_Plastics and feel free to Tweet/Retweet using #SCADNPE.

We look forward to seeing the student’s final designs in Orlando.

Monday, October 27th, 2014

SPI, APBA Help Students Clean Up Anacostia River

The Anacostia River

The Anacostia River

Nearly 30 years ago, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association was on the beaches of Texas spearheading the country’s first beach cleanup. On Friday SPI staff joined with the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) and a group of 180 fourth- and fifth-grade students to help clean up Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia River on Debris Day, an annual event hosted by the Living Classrooms Foundation.

Kids from Watkins Elementary and Tyler Elementary Schools in Washington, D.C. trekked to Kingman and Heritage Islands where they scoured the banks and areas surrounding the Anacostia, wielding plastic trash bags to collect discarded litter and debris. In just a few hours the students collected several bags’ worth of paper, glass, cardboard and even a rusty old spare tire. SPI and APBA staff helped as well, putting their organizations’ zero-waste and pro-recycling bona fides into action by rolling up their sleeves and helping to make the Anacostia cleaner.IMG_5395

Captain Clean Sweep, reporting for duty!

Captain Clean Sweep, reporting for duty!

 

“The U.S. plastics industry understands the importance and value of clean, healthy waterways,” says SPI President & CEO William R. Carteaux. “Litter and marine debris impacts our environment, the economy and even the food we eat. That’s why SPI continues its 40-year legacy of promoting zero waste.”

SPI was among the first industry trade groups to adopt education and outreach programs associated with material and product loss to the oceans and waterways. In 1985 SPI created the industry’s guidelines and best practices for pellet containment: Operation Clean Sweep (OCS). Now an international program, OCS spans across every continent and is endorsed by thousands of manufacturing plants across the world.

SPI and the APBA look forward to participating in future events to support environmental education and continually working to move the needle on recycling and litter reduction.

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The SPI and APBA team.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Democracy in Action: Fort Collins City Council Repeals Bag Fee Ordinance after Citizen Opposition

On Tuesday the City Council of Fort Collins, CO repealed the city’s bag fee ordinance, following public outcry and a concerted signature-gathering effort conducted by a group called Citizens for Recycling Choices. After the city clerk certified the legitimacy of the signatures, the council could’ve placed the ordinance on next year’s ballot, called a special election to decide the issue or repealed the law outright. Councilmembers chose the last option, scrapping the law in a 6-1 vote.

Fort Collins’ ordinance would’ve required retailers to charge a 5-cent bag fee on all bags defined broadly as “disposable,” which included standard LDPE plastic grocery bags that are 100 percent recyclable and reusable. As reported in The Coloradoan, speaking before Tuesday’s repeal Fort Collins City Councilmember Gino Campana said, “citizens went out and formed an initiative and got enough signatures. That’s enough for me to say repeal this.”

“I believe we can be more innovative than charging a fee for a bag,” Campano added.Recycled plastic bags image

After voting to repeal, the Council reiterated that it would continue to work toward zero waste through increased recycling, a goal shared by SPI and the plastics industry at large. The Fort Collins bag fee, which lasted from the council’s adoption of Ordinance 99 in August to its decision to repeal the same ordinance this week, offers a textbook example for recycling advocates to follow when working to make their voices heard about other misguided bag bans and taxes.

SPI opposes bag bans and fees while supporting zero waste and recycling initiatives and hopes other municipalities will consider more innovative approaches to waste management. SPI also hopes that this successful effort in Fort Collins will galvanize voters, who have the power to correct public misconceptions, help preserve choice in the marketplace and hold their legislators accountable for their actions.

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Kids “Think Outside the Bag” for Recycling Program Expansion

New Program Designed to Help Flexible Film Recycling Go Mainstream

Consumers generally know that plastic bottles and packaging can be put in a blue bin, collected and recycled. For plastic bags and films, however, there’s an added step, as curbside pickup for these materials is not widespread.  Plastic film recycling requires consumers who live in jurisdictions without single-stream recycling to collect and bring these materials back to the grocery store where they most likely acquired them in the first place.

Returning these materials to where they came from isn’t an enormous burden, but it does contribute to low collection rates (along with the fact that plastic bags are also very likely to be reused, over and over again). Until technology advances in such a way that allows recyclers to sort this material with other more rigid plastic materials (and you can trust that the recycling industry is doing everything in its power to make that a reality) and pick it up curbside, this necessary step, wherein the consumer is both sorter and shipper, will be a part of the plastic film and bag recycling process. Presently, it’s estimated that only 12 percent of this material is recycled. That’s why SPI is working with JASON Learning and looking to kids for a fresh perspective.JASONLogo

The “Think Outside the Bag!” contest is the latest in SPI’s efforts to help promote and increase recycling, and was announced Monday by SPI, its Flexible Film and Bag Division (FFBD) and JASON Learning, a nonprofit organization managed by Sea Research Foundation, Inc. in partnership with the National Geographic Society. It asks students to come up with a creative campaign to increase recycling of flexible plastic film like dry cleaner bags, product wrapping and, of course, plastic grocery bags. “We each encounter flexible film plastic products in our everyday lives,” said SPI Vice President of Industry Affairs and FFBD Liaison Patty Long. “But this material too often ends up in the trash rather than on a truck back to a processor that can turn it back into something useful.”

spi_logo_2000x1007SPI and the entire plastics industry hopes that in the future plastic bag recycling is as routine a part of American life as curbside recycling, and that more of this material ends up at recycling plants than ends up in landfills, waterways or other venues. Losing plastic films and bags isn’t merely environmentally harmful, it’s also economically wasteful, and the entire industry doesn’t want any of it slipping through the cracks. “SPI, the FFBD and JASON are committed to increasing plastic film recycling and we want students to help us make sure none of these materials end up polluting our hometowns, our waterways and our beaches,” Long added.

The contest is another in a long line of the plastics industry’s efforts to increase recycling and use the industry’s expertise to solve environmental quandaries, fitting right in with Operation Clean Sweep, the Plastics Recycling Marketplace and the Zero Waste Zone at NPE2015. In terms of combining a focus on solutions with industry engagement, SPI and JASON Learning make logical partners for the contest. “At JASON we pride ourselves on connecting students with the real professionals working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to explore new frontiers and find new solutions to the problems threatening our environment,” said JASON Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Eleanor Smalley. “The ‘Think Outside the Bag!’ contest will teach students about the plastic film recycling process from some of the industry’s biggest players, and give them the opportunity to think critically about the challenges that keep these materials from getting recycled and how they can overcome them in their communities.”

More information and details for participating student groups are available here. SPI looks forward to seeing what students come up with, and to working with JASON and the next generation of consumers to close the loop on all plastics.