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!

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Manufacturing Day 2016: SPI Staff Reflections

After wrapping up yet another successful Manufacturing (MFG) Day, several SPI staff members who attended MFG Day events at plastics facilities across the nation shared their experience about what made this year’s events so special and the incredible things plastics companies had on tap for their events.

Kendra Martin, Senior Director, Industry Affairs – Brand Owners

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I took my children – ages 11 and 13 – with me to spend Manufacturing Day 2016 at The Rodon Group in Hatfield, PA. Rodon hosted nearly 50 students from local tech schools, high schools and colleges. We began the visit with a presentation and several videos about the future of manufacturing and the variety of career opportunities it offers. We then took a tour of the factory (ours led by K’NEX creator Joel Glickman!), which gave us a chance to see the design, tooling and manufacturing processes in action, and watched Baxter, a collaborative manufacturing robot from Rethink Robotics, at work.

For the kids (and me), the most fun part of the day was seeing all the very cool robotics throughout the factory, such as machines making the K’NEX construction pieces and a bunch of amazing models and portraits made out of the interlocking toys. Oh, and seeing the pictures of when President Obama visited the plant in 2012. One of the Presidential helicopters landed in the open field next to Rodon’s facility!

David Palmer, Director, Industry Affairs – Equipment Council

For those of us who celebrated Manufacturing Day at Wittmann Battenfeld in Torrington, Connecticut, we were treated to three days of spectacular events, including the company’s Open House & Innovations Workshop and SPI’s Northeast Regional Plant Tour and Dinner.

More than 100 students from nearby Oliver Wolcott High School visited Wittmann Battenfeld on MFG Day and employees rolled out the maroon carpet for their guests. We were privileged to tour their facilities and sit in on various presentations and demonstrations of the company’s injection molding machines and auxiliary equipment: dryers, blenders and granulators.

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For me, there were two memorable moments of the day. One was seeing the presentations by SPE’s PlastiVan program. Margie Weiner’s experiments were pure infotainment. One student who was so dazzled by a particular experiment involving polymers yelled out, “What?Is that magic?” Students learned a lot about the science of plasticsand the possibilities of doing pretty cool stuff in a plastics career. The other memorable moment was seeing Ronnie the BroBot moving about the building interacting with visitors. Amazing! That robot was so lifelike.

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Katie Masterson, Senior Program Manager, Industry Affairs – Equipment Council

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My day started off at Parkinson Technologies where I shadowed an “Introduction to Engineering” high school class. There were about 15 students in that tour, but Parkinson had over 50 students from local high schools tour their facility for MFG Day. Congressman David Cicilline also came and toured their facility. By the end of the tour, students could distinguish between different types of plastics machinery used for different types of plastics materials. They also had a better idea of the various types of jobs offered at a manufacturing facility.

 

 

I then made my way to Yushin America which opened their facility to their community and scheduled tours for every 15 minutes based on demand. They had about 140 people attend their event. I waslucky enough to shadow a tour with local high school students. This school attended previous Yushin MFG Days events and continues to bring their students on an annual basis because they understand the value of MFG Day. Yushin did a great job explaining the workforce shortage and all the various job opportunities at Yushin, and the required training and education. They noted that they’re always looking for employees who have interest, drive and ability.

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Rachel Cervarich, Digital Marketing Specialist

Attending Wittmann Battenfeld’s MFG Day event was enlightening. Being new to the plastics industry, I had never been to a manufacturing facility before. Seeing a facility where equipment is made definitely created a thirst for knowledge about manufacturing. I’d love to see a processing facility next and learn how the machines I saw being built go on to create plastic products.

The students who toured the facility had similar reactions. Many of them commented on the cleanliness of the facility and the advanced technology of the machines. Every student I spoke to said they hadn’t imagined a career in plastics before MFG Day and now could picture themselves in plastics. They realized that you may start on the floor, but you can work your way to sales and even management positions. It was fantastic to hear such positive, impressed reactions from students.

 

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