Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

The FLiP Files: Ghislaine (Gigi) Bailey, Ph.D.

gigibaileyThe FLiP Files is a blog series spotlighting young professionals that are active in SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), a group for plastics professionals under the age of 40.  For our next FLiP File, we spoke to Ghislaine (Gigi) Bailey, Ph.D., Senior Specialist, Product Regulations at NOVA Chemicals Corporation

-Where do you work and what’s your title?

I work at NOVA Chemicals as a member of our product integrity regulatory compliance team.

-Tell us a little about what your company does.

NOVA Chemicals is a multibillion-dollar company that produces plastics and chemicals, including resins for food packaging, automotive applications, caps and closures and many other everyday items.

-How did you find yourself working in the plastics industry?

It was a chance encounter at a party. I am an organic chemist and studied polymers for my doctoral thesis. When my husband and I moved to Calgary in Alberta, Canada I knew virtually no one but met someone at a party who introduced me to NOVA Chemicals. I’ve had roles in R&D, product development and new business development, all of which led to my current role in product integrity.

-Has anyone in the industry mentored you?

I have been very fortunate to have some key people help and mentor me, both unofficially and officially. Their advice and guidance has helped me to understand the industry and how NOVA Chemicals, the business, is run, which in turn has impacted how I approached my career at NOVA Chemicals.

-Describe in one sentence what you do on an average day.

On a typical day I work on a broad range of tasks: respond to customer regulatory requests, track imports, monitor and respond to developing global regulations and provide our R&D teams with regulatory support for the latest technology or products they have developed.

-What do you like most about working in the plastics industry?

That it is both flexible and multi-layered.

What’s one thing about your personal life that you feel has been changed by having a career in plastics?

I have a much greater appreciation for the broad and varied uses of plastics, and how integral they are to our quality of life.

-What are the major challenges you think are facing the plastics industry today? How do you think the industry can overcome them?

I am fortunate to live in a very “green” city, which means that I am often educating those around me on the value of plastics. The ramifications of abandoning plastics have generally not been carefully thought out, nor have the alternatives, which are not necessarily “greener.” The plastics industry needs to educate the general population on how environmentally friendly plastics can be and stress responsible end-of-life disposal. We hear a lot of news about the negatives of plastics and not enough about the positive impacts that plastics have on our lives, such as food preservation, food transportation, promoting good hygiene, etc. The plastics industry needs to highlight all the great and positive aspects of plastics.

-Why do you think someone from your generation should consider a career in plastics?

A career in plastics is an excellent choice. I would take that even further and encourage people to consider a career in regulatory compliance for the plastics industry. Without regulatory approval, plastic products cannot be sold. Given the speed at which governments are adopting and updating laws pertaining to transportation, manufacture, importation, exportation, food contact, etc., regulatory expertise within plastics companies is essential. In addition, there is always something new to learn, and just like the products we cover, this career is extremely flexible. It is satisfying to know that we are doing our part to keep plastics safe and contributing to an improved quality of life for those around us.

-What’s one plastic product you couldn’t live without?

Plastic wrap and freezer bags. With two young kids, I don’t know how I would function without them.

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Recap of the Folly Beach Clean-up and Food Packaging Summit

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SPI’s Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Packaging Materials Committee (FDCPMC) recently hosted its Fall 2016 Food Packaging Summit in Charleston, SC.

The event kicked off with an effort to give back to our host city, in keeping with SPI’s zero waste mission, by clearing waste from nearby Folly Beach.  Twenty-five of our energetic volunteers combed the shore for two hours and removed more than five bags of trash.

The Folly Beach Clean-up was sponsored by the following companies:

  1. Milliken: TheRoger Milliken Center, the global headquarters, is located in Spartanburg, S.C. and has fourteen additional manufacturing facilities across this state. “Milliken & Company is committed to doing good in our community and surrounding areas. As a South Carolina based company, we are honored to support the Folly Beach clean-up and the people that call South Carolina home. We will do everything we can to help,” said Sean Norton, marketing communications manager at Milliken.
  2. Sealed Air: The company has operations in several cities in South Carolina including Duncan, Seneca and Simpsonville. “Programs and partnerships such as this are instrumental in our employees’ mission to create a better way for life in each and every industry and community where we operate,” said Sealed Air’s spokesman, Ken Aurichio.
  3. PolyQuest: The company’s Distribution and Recycling Facility is located in Darlington, SC. “At PolyQuest, we believe in being environmentally responsible. We are very much in favor of initiatives that work toward getting plastics in the proper waste stream, especially a recycle stream,” said Monica Filyaw, director of Quality, Safety, and Regulatory Affairs.

 

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Next, the FDCPMC is gearing up for its 13th Biennial International Symposium on Worldwide Regulation of Food Packaging, which will be held June 13 – 16, 2017, in Baltimore, MD. Regulators, scientists and industry leaders from around the world will convene once again for three days of discussion about topics such as how to overcome regulatory obstacles to global marketing of food packaging products.

 

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Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

The Future of Recycling: A Total Supply Chain Approach!

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As part of America Recycles Day, we have a new guest blog post from Ronald L. Whaley on the future of recycling. Ron is the CEO of Geo-Tech Polymers and chairman of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) Recycling Committee.

For the last twenty years nothing much has changed in how plastics are recycled from an overall approach.  The majority of people and companies working in the plastics recycling industry approach it from a single point of view.

 

The waste haulers, the sorting facilities, the brokers and the processors have only been focused on their segment of the business.  Yes, some have tried to position themselves as the complete one stop recycling solution.  To-date, the “one stop solution” has not been anymore successful than the traditional individual focused approach.  The traditional approach has limited the industry’s ability to keep pace with the existing demand for recycled content while also limiting opportunities in new markets.  If the industry ever hopes to meet the ever-growing demand for clean consistent recycled plastics content, things are going to have to change.

 

What needs to change?

The industry needs to change its focus from individual operators into groups working together to address all the needs of the plastics recycling supply chain.  A few organizations such as SPI with their ELV (End of Life Vehicles) Project have started down this road by including participants from all segments of the auto recycling process.  By addressing plastics recycling from a complete supply chain approach, unnecessary costs can be removed and long-term consistent supply can be assured. In addition, materials can be supplied to the growing group of OEM’s, CPG companies and others looking for recycled plastics.  This approach also provides the opportunity for each participant in the supply chain to earn a reasonable and predictable return on its’ own investment.

Sometimes real growth requires a different approach and I believe it is time for the plastics recycling industry to step up and recognize the shortfalls in the current business model.  The industry needs to develop working groups, each containing a representative or representatives from each of the segments of the plastics recycling supply chain, if we ever hope to meet the growing consumer demand for recycled plastics content.

 

Monday, October 31st, 2016

I Made That: CH3’s Plastic Court

“I Made That” is a series that showcases the people at plastics companies whose work goes into the products that consumers encounter throughout their daily lives. If you are interested in featuring your company’s role in bringing a consumer product to market, please email stories@plasticsindustry.org.

Playing basketball, tennis or any other sport on concrete is becoming less and less common these days, thanks to the plastics industry. One innovative company, CH3 makes a product called VersaCourt that’s begun to replace harder athletic surfaces with a softer plastic material.

 

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CH3 provides the courts with a lifetime warranty, and they’re designed to go in right on top of an existing court. The VersaCourt is also easier to repair, easier to clean or replace and easier to play on. Since the material that goes into the tiles is softer than concrete, it creates a great deal less strain on players’ knees, ensuring that they can keep playing for much longer with less of a risk of injury. “Our outdoor tile has a little movement in it,” said Rodney Davenport of CH3. “So when you go to do a hard break and change direction, you get a little flex, and your joints don’t have to take all of what you would feel on concrete.”

 

To read the full version of this story, published in the SPI Fall 2016 Magazine, click here.

 

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Thursday, October 20th, 2016

The FLiP Files: Adrienne Remener

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The FLiP Files is a blog series spotlighting young professionals that are active in SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), a group for plastics professionals under the age of 40.  For our next FLiP File, we spoke to Adrienne Remener, Database Specialist, at SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.

-Where do you work and what’s your title?

I work at SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) as the database specialist.

-Tell us a little about what your company does.

SPI is the industry’s trade association, so we do all kinds of things here – everything from advocacy, regulation and education to running large trade shows, like NPE.

-How did you find yourself working in the plastics industry?

It was totally by chance. I studied architectural engineering in college, and while applying for jobs in the field I started working as a temporary employee at SPI on database cleanup. While working here through a staffing agency, I had taken (and passed!) the fundamentals of engineering exam, which is a precursor to working toward becoming a licensed professional engineer – but I enjoyed SPI and the plastics industry so much that I accepted a full-time position here instead of continuing to pursue structural engineering work. I have certainly changed my career focus a bit from what I had previously expected to do, but it is undoubtedly a worthwhile experience for me.

-Describe in one sentence what you do on an average day.

I work with SPI’s database. On any given day I’m writing SQL queries, helping set up event registrations, providing staff training on new system features, acting as liaison for any software integrations, or cleaning and managing data.

-What do you like most about working in the plastics industry?

I find plastics innovations and development so fascinating; working in the industry, attending events and networking with other industry members is a great way to keep abreast with what’s happening.

What’s one thing about your personal life that you feel has been changed by having a career in plastics?

My recycling habits have definitely improved! I generally have always been conscious of my carbon footprint, but since working in the plastics industry and learning about the recyclability of different materials, particularly flexible film and bags, I have a whole new recycling routine at home.

-What are the major challenges you think are facing the plastics industry today? How do you think the industry can overcome them?

I think the biggest challenge the plastics industry is faced with is misinformation. Proactive education is the best way to overcome this; including transparency on business practices and raising awareness on not only the recyclability of plastics but how to recycle certain types of materials.

-Why do you think someone from your generation should consider a career in plastics?

I think more young people should seriously consider studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs in school. Doing so opens a world of opportunities in many industries – including plastics, of course. Technology has come so far in recent years and I don’t think what has been developed up to this point is anywhere near the summit of our potential with plastics. I’m excited to see what the upcoming generation will create!

-What’s one plastic product you couldn’t live without?

To me, the most important plastic products are my glasses and contact lenses – I would be lost without them!