Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

North America Expected to Drive Demand in 2015 in Latest Plastics Machinery Economic Forecast

Market demand overall for plastics machinery continued to grow in the third quarter of 2014, according to the latest report from SPI’s Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES). The figures dovetail nicely with data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to suggest that purchasing in the U.S. is up and that the country will drive demand in the sector for the remainder of the year and into 2015.

“The market conditions that drive investment in new industrial equipment have prevailed throughout all of 2014, and I expect these conditions to persist in 2015. These are: low interest rates, and the need for increased productivity in order to meet rising aggregate demand,” according to Bill Wood, the plastics market economist who analyzes and reports on the plastics machinery market sector for the CES.

Shipments of primary plastics equipment (injection molding, extrusion and blow molding equipment) for reporting companies totaled $301.4 million in Q3. This is 6 percent higher than the revised shipments total of $284.3 million in Q2 of this year, and is down only 2 percent compared with the robust total from Q3 of 2013. For the year to date, the total value of primary equipment shipments is up 6 percent compared with last year.

Meanwhile, two of the BEA’s major data series measuring activity in the industrial machinery sector showed that business investment in industrial equipment escalated by 16 percent in the third quarter of 2014, compared to the same period last year, and that investment year-to-date is up by 13 percent. The Census Bureau has also reported that the total value of new orders of industrial machinery leapt by 47 percent in Q3 when compared with the same period from last year, and that year-to-date orders are up by 34 percent.

An increase in shipments among reporting companies and major jumps in U.S. purchasing suggests a healthy demand for plastics machinery in the region as it moves into the New Year. “From a global perspective, the North American region will be the strongest in terms of total economic activity in the coming months,” Wood said. “Strong demand in the U.S. will help to sustain the momentum in the global economy in 2015.”

CES also conducts a quarterly survey measuring supplier attitudes about current and future market conditions. Regarding the coming quarter, 95 percent of respondents expected conditions to stay the same or improve. That figure improved to 98 percent when the question was extended about the coming 12 months.

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Read the full report release on SPI’s home page here.

Friday, November 21st, 2014

SPI Western Moldmakers Give Back at 24th Annual Mike Koebel Trade Fair

SPI Western Region Moldmakers hosted the 24th Annual Mike Koebel Western Moldmakers Trade Fair this Veterans Day. For the first time ever, this year’s event included a free technical workshop and educational program that preceded the trade fair. TradeFair networkingPresented by SPI in partnership with Moldmaking Technology Magazine and the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Moldmakers and Mold Design Division, the program provided moldmaker-specific technical and economic perspectives from industry leaders to a room that overflowed with attendees, suggesting that such a program will certainly be a part of next year’s 25th annual event to provide more of the cutting-edge insights that keep moldmakers moving forward.

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Attendees on a plant tour hosted in conjunction with the Trade Fair.

 

The trade fair itself drew more than 150 attendees, making it one of the most popular in recent memory, and featured more than 20 exhibitors. It also offered attendees an unparalleled opportunity to benefit themselves and their companies through networking. The trade fair offers industry professionals the chance to gather near the end of every year to make new friends and reconnect with old ones as they network, collaborate and socialize in a community with strong business and personal bonds that are unique to the moldmaking community. This makes it a great event for both the plastics industry’s rookies as well as its veterans.

Western Moldmaker Board

The Western Moldmaker Board.

This year’s program also recognized service and dedication in many forms, from thanking the many veterans that were in attendance for their service and sacrifice, to recognizing the volunteers that comprise the Western Moldmakers Board for all they do to support the industry. The SPI Western Moldmakers group has also contributed over $90,000 over the years to colleges and educational institutions that support moldmaking, plastics programs and advanced manufacturing, and that tradition continued again this year. Instead of supporting a specific institution, the SPI Western Moldmakers announced a donation to Bright Prospect, an organization that empowers high-potential, low-income students to gain admission, succeed and graduate from four-year colleges and universities through comprehensive counseling and support from high school through college.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Plastic Trade Groups Teach Kids the Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Many legislators and policymakers across the country are justifiably concerned about litter, but have been led to believe that plastic bags are a major part of the problem. They’re not. The reality is that plastic bags make up just 0.4 percent (0.4%) of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream, according to the EPA, and traditionally are less than one percent (1%) of litter.Plastic-Bags-Closeup-260w

We as a society must have an honest conversation about litter and its reduction, but that conversation needs to be both grounded in facts and science and focused on meaningful solutions. So, when policymakers consider plastic bag bans and taxes, they should (1) be aware of just how little of the country’s litter is actually made up of plastic bags, and (2) understand that local governmental resources would be better spent elsewhere. This includes supporting broader litter education campaigns focused on changing people’s behavior instead of eliminating useful products and valuable resources.

That’s why SPI and the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) support several different organizations in order to help drive the nation’s first widespread litter reduction initiative since the 1980s. A number of different programs already operate in this space. Earlier this fall, for instance, SPI partnered with JASON Learning, a nonprofit organization managed by Sea Research Foundation, Inc., and the National Geographic Society to launch the “Think Outside the Bag!” plastic film recycling contest, which asks students to create creative public awareness campaigns about flexible film and bag recycling. Not many people know to recycle these materials and therefore dispose of them in garbage bins, where they’re eventually lost to the landfill.  Through partnerships like this one, however, SPI and JASON Learning are teaching environmentally responsible behavior to the next generation of American recyclers and empowering them to educate others so that none of this material ever is wasted.

apba logo_2012In addition, the APBA strongly supports the efforts of A Bag’s Life, a public education campaign that unites nonprofits, business, community and government organizations to raise awareness regarding and make it easier for more people to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags.  A Bag’s Life just launched its second-annual plastic bag collection and recycling contest in the Galveston Independent School District (GISD) on November 14, 2014, in honor of America Recycles Day. Last year this successful recycling competition resulted in the collection of over 350,000 plastic bags, and this year the number of participating schools has nearly doubled. Supported by Clean Galveston and Trex, this initiative gives students and their communities until Earth Day 2015 to make a positive environmental change. The two schools with the most recycled bags per capita will win products made from recycled plastic materials and provided by Trex.spi_logo_300x151

Initiatives like this are meaningful, long-term solutions to our nation’s litter problem. Plastic bag bans and taxes are not. SPI and the APBA look forward to working together with the aforementioned organizations, and others, trying to make a real impact on litter through recycling and recycling education.

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

As Renewal Season Ramps Up, SPI Offers an Easy Answer to Heavy Healthcare Questions

By SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

The leaves are turning and the climate is changing, the amount of time available for actual work is decreasing and the forecast seems to vary on a day-to-day basis, swinging from sunny skies and short sleeves to slickers or scarves at a moment’s notice.

That’s right: it’s renewal season!

A recent study released by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. the 2014 Benefits Strategy and Benchmarking Survey, found that U.S. employers’ biggest overall challenge is controlling benefit costs. Among employers surveyed, 63% reported that their benefit expenses account for 20% or more of their total compensation spend. The same study found that 98% of employers are committed to providing some form of employee healthcare benefits for the future. Subsidizing employee healthcare is a key element of any employer’s value proposition.

As such, employers considering their 2015 healthcare offerings are facing an environment with potentially higher costs and complex considerations when determining the right path forward. The manufacturing renaissance in America continues, but for companies to unleash their true growth potential they need to be able to spend less time tabulating the tangible and intangible pros, cons and costs of their employee benefit programs and more time innovating, exporting, investing and hiring.

Like any other sector the plastics industry has these same concerns about healthcare. Luckily, SPI listened and last April launched SPI HealthLink, a private exchange platform specific to SPI members. “The first step in the success of any healthcare plan is to recognize the issues that need to be addressed,” said SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux. “Where SPI HealthLink stands out as such an attractive option for employers is in its ability to create a predictable solution that is both time and cost efficient.”SPI Health Link Logo2-4C

Private exchanges have emerged as an increasingly popular solution to the questions companies have about healthcare, with data collected by JD Power & Associates showing that 47 percent of businesses intend to adopt one. With SPI HealthLink you get more predictable costs, increased efficiency and streamlined administrative processes, and your employees get to pick benefits as unique as the plastic products and materials their companies manufacture, process, mold and recycle.

It’s easy to see how it becomes wasteful for a company to offer the same plan to a 65-year-old employee that it does to a 20-year-old employee. Operating from a defined contribution (DC) rather than defined benefit approach, SPI HealthLink abandons the one-size-fits-all model of traditional health plans that causes misaligned employee coverage.

With SPI HealthLink, employees choose the coverage that meets their individual needs across a wide range of insurance solutions. That means your employees are better protected and more invested in the benefit dollars your company spends on them.

SPI HealthLink allows employers to allocate fixed dollars to their employees so they can purchase the insurance they need, transforming the budgeting process into an array of concrete predictions instead of a parade of maybes. And all the while, as administered by international services firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., HealthLink can eliminate members’ administrative burden and help them get back to growing their business.

SPI members interested in learning more about HealthLink can click here, or call the SPI HealthLink hotline at (844)413-5871 to speak with a live representative from Gallagher. Whether you’re looking for new options or already have a plan in place, understanding the value of SPI HealthLink could be meaningful to helping your organization achieve greater organizational goals such as enhanced employee engagement and productivity.

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Letter from SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux on Last Week’s Midterm Elections

William R. Carteaux, President and CEO, SPI

William R. Carteaux, President and CEO, SPI

If there’s one conclusion to be drawn from last week’s elections, it’s that voters repudiated the gridlock and brinksmanship that too often defines our nation’s policy making. And, now that the election is over, the complicated process of governing begins. President Obama, Congress, Governors and state legislators must find ways to move the country forward.

In spite of all the change in Washington and state capitals, though, one thing hasn’t changed at all: our success in achieving pro-plastics outcomes will depend on the participation and support of individuals like you.

In Washington, at least 12 new U.S.  Senators and 56 new House members will  be sworn in this January. That means     we’ll have lots of new lawmakers to educate about our industry, its economic importance and the issues that matter to companies throughout the value chain.

The national wave was also reflected in key state-level races where outcomes suggest an improving landscape for plastics, particularly in some state capitals that have historically been troublesome for the industry. Just as we do in Washington, SPI will press state legislators and regulators to incorporate our interests into their decision making.

More important than which party controls the White House or Congress or Governors’ mansions, are the voices of the industry’s citizen-advocates like you. Looking ahead from Tuesday’s elections, there’s an opportunity not just to head off the threats that face us, but to advance meaningful, positive, proactive policy initiatives for the benefit of our entire industry.

We need everyone on board, both in response to dangerous legislative or regulatory developments and in support of pro-plastics initiatives that reaffirm our role as a forward-looking industry with a solid record of bettering our communities and our country.

That’s why I’m asking you to take a minute to fill out this brief survey to help us communicate our industry’s size and impact to elected officials, regulators and other key policy makers.

We appreciate your time as we proudly advocate for an ever-brighter future for us all.

Sincerely,

William R. Carteaux
President & CEO
SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association