Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Jerome Heckman: A Legend in the Plastics Industry Passes Away

President's Post

It with great sadness that I inform you today that attorney Jerome Heckman, a legend in our industry, passed away last night. SPI’s association with Jerry Heckman spans nearly 60 years. His law firm, Keller and Heckman, continues as counsel to SPI today.

Jerry Heckman had a tremendous impact on the plastics industry, and will be remembered as one of the most influential people our industry has ever known. His work with resin manufacturers, processors, regulatory agencies and legislators is responsible for much of the growth that several sectors of our industry have enjoyed over the last 50 years.

Jerry began work for SPI in1954 when Federal Communications Commission rules threatened to impact the use of radio frequency heating used in the plastics industry

at that time. In the later part of the 1950s, Heckman’s work for SPI began to involve ever more issues concerning plastics packaging materials and Food & Drug Administration regulations. He was instrumental in the formation of SPI’s Food Drug & Cosmetic Packaging Committee in 1957.

 Jerry Heckman’s tremendous service to the plastics industry has not gone unrecognized. He was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1986. He received the first Bradbury award for    outstanding contributions to the plastics packaging industry from  the SPI Color Additives and Compounders Division in 2000. That  same year, the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition  awarded Jerry the Directors Special Citation Award. In 2007 he  was inducted into the Packaging Industry’s Hall of Fame.

Looking to the future, Jerry had great optimism for our industry. In 2012, in a letter congratulating SPI on

our 75th anniversary, he seemed to pass the torch to all of us to continue on a path of innovation and growth for the industry he served so faithfully:

“I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to contribute since I started in 1954. It’s been a challenging trip walking through the years with you and helping where I could. Now SPI and the new generation of plasticians can take up the cause and fill the world marketplace with the results of new breakthroughs and progress. We came, we saw, and we did our very best, but now it’s your turn to make the future even brighter…”

Jerry Heckman will be missed and his service to the plastics industry should be celebrated.

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Gary Sain: Without His Unwavering Support and Commitment, NPE2012 Would Not Have Been as Successful

President's Post
SPI is the producer of NPE, the triennial international plastics trade show. Held in Orlando on April 1-5,  NPE2012 was considered a triumphant success by most observers. After being held for 40 years in Chicago, NPE2012 marked the first time the show was held in Orlando. The following statement concerning the death of Visit Orlando President and CEO Gary Sain was issued by SPI President and CEO William “Bill” Carteaux.

It  is with deep sadness that I share the news with the entire plastics industry that Gary Sain, the President and CEO of Visit Orlando (The Orlando Tourism Bureau), passed away unexpectedly on the evening of May 4th at an event in Orlando.

As many of you may recall from SPI events and articles in various trade publications, over the past three years Gary was extremely instrumental in helping to attract SPI to Orlando for NPE2012.  His tireless efforts and commitment to the show and our industry helped us create one of the best NPEs in its history.  Gary took some huge risks to ensure our success that could have cost him not only his job, but also his outstanding reputation. But as I got to know him better along the journey, I realized there was no way he would allow SPI, or himself, to fail in helping create the special event that we did with NPE2012.

Gary Sain (seated left) and Bill Carteaux (seated middle) sign contract that brought NPE to Orlando. Others: OCCC GM Jessie Allen (seated right), NPE2012 Chair John Effmann (back row, left) and SPI Sr. VP Trade Shows Gene Sanders.

Over the past three-plus years, Gary and I developed a close, personal relationship.  He was a true visionary in the trade show and tourism industry and probably had the best marketing mind of anyone that I have known in my professional career.  His ability to look at every problem and obstacle as an opportunity was tremendously refreshing.  Gary truly believed and lived by Orlando’s theme — “ORLANDO MAKES ME SMILE” — as he was always on top of the world with a positive attitude and a smile on his face.

The entire global plastics industry owes Gary Sain a generous amount of appreciation for all that he did for us. Without his help, support and unwavering commitment to our success, NPE2012 would not have been nearly as successful as it was.  For that Mr. Sain, we are all ‘smiling up at you.’

From a personal perspective, I will miss our friendship dearly. On behalf of SPI Sr. Vice President of Trade Shows Gene Sanders and the rest of the SPI staff, I want to express my deepest condolences to Gary’s family, loved ones and the staff at Visit Orlando.


Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

SPI, ACC and CPIA Announce Enhanced Collaboration

President's Post
When I became president of SPI nearly six years ago, I immediately began speaking about the importance of our diverse industry coming together, leveraging the sum of our many parts, and truly speaking with one voice and acting according to one vision. Individual parts – yes — but working together in unison.

I am delighted to announce an initiative that will not only bring us even closer to “one voice, one vision,” but also provide greater value to your business. The three major plastics trade associations in the U.S. and Canada — SPI, the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association – publicly announced today our plans to formalize our long-standing alliance for the benefit of the North American plastics industry. We will continue our work together on key industry priorities through a virtual structure called the North American Plastics Alliance (NAPA).

The plastics industry has common opportunities and challenges throughout the value chain and across borders. By formalizing our collaboration with ACC and CPIA on select programs, we will be able to provide greater value and eliminate redundancy. Together, we will have an increased ability to demonstrate the collective value of the North American plastics industry and boost the power and reach of our communications and advocacy.

NAPA’s Initial Priorities for Enhanced Collaboration

While in the past we have enjoyed success working informally with ACC and CPIA, formalizing our agreement and establishing a NAPA Steering Team of staff and members represents a new level of commitment to cooperation. In addition to me, SPI’s representative on the Steering Team will be Jay Cude, President and CEO, Coeur Inc., and Vice Chair of the SPI Board of Directors. Having a Steering Team will help the new Alliance focus efforts on the most important, highest ROI areas for the industry. The initial priorities for enhanced collaboration will be:

• Pellet Containment: Extension of Operation Clean Sweep® to broaden pellet containment efforts in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere
• Energy Recovery: Promotion and facilitation of energy recovery and conversion of used plastics to complement recycling
• Plastics Favorability: Increasing the favorability of plastics with key stakeholders
• Advocacy: Targeted advocacy with policy makers to support the growth of the plastics industry

United to Maximize Effectiveness

I want to particularly emphasize to you that the creation of NAPA is not a cost-cutting exercise. While we may enjoy efficiencies along the way, the focus is on effectiveness. United under a formal structure, SPI, ACC and CPIA can maximize our power to successfully serve North American plastics manufacturers and ensure that our industry moves forward with one voice and one vision.

United, the future of the plastics industry is bright.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Please Help! SPI Spearheads U.S. Plastics Industry’s Humanitarian Effort for New Zealand Earthquake Victims



President's Post

Dear Colleagues,

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand last month toppled buildings, buckled streets, and caused hundreds of deaths. The Christchurch community needs our industry’s help.  In fact, our colleagues in New Zealand have directly appealed to the U.S. plastics industry for a very critical, specific need: portable toilets.

My counterpart at Plastics New Zealand explained to me that the public sewage system in the impacted area may not be operable for more than a year! This is a dire sanitation problem that will quickly become a public health crisis if we do not offer our assistance.  There  is a growing need for portable toilets there in order to avoid adding disease and sickness to what is already a nightmare for these citizens.

Manufactured largely from polyethylene, portable toilets are a specific need that our industry is uniquely qualified to meet.

Here’s How We Can Help

From the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti, to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike on the U.S. Gulf Coast and the 2004 tsunami and earthquakes in Asia Pacific, I have been extremely proud of the way my colleagues in the plastics and chemical industries have lent a generous hand with both monetary contributions and in-kind donations of the supplies that our companies manufacture: Bottled water, water purification chemicals and kits, PVC pipe to rebuild water and sanitation systems, water storage containers, plastic houses and other building supplies, medical supplies and even prosthetic limbs.

The Christchurch earthquake is no different and SPI is spearheading an industry-wide effort to produce and ship 4,000 portable toilets to New Zealand. While one portable toilet manufacturer has already graciously offered to manufacture and ship 50 units at no cost, I am asking the rest of the industry to help fund the overall effort. I am appealing to you so that we can raise the $1.5 million necessary– in both cash donations and in-kind contributions of resin and colorant. Be assured that 100% of your donation will be used directly for this effort’s production and shipment costs only.

Act Now: Quick, Easy Ways to Participate

Please go to the plasticsfoundation.org  site and click the “Donate” button there to securely make a donation using a credit card. If you wish to make a cash or in-kind donation directly without going through the website, please call SPI’s Susan Douglas at 202.974.5224 or email her.

Thank you for supporting the plastics generic levitra uk industry and the people of New Zealand in this humanitarian effort.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Polystyrene Food Containers Help Keep You Out of the Hospital

President's Post

(The following column, sans links, recently appeared in the Janesville (Wis.) Gazette in response to an earlier opinion piece concerning polystyrene take-out food containers.)   

I am troubled by the rise in food-borne illnesses and disease that our society would witness if the irresponsible opinion expressed by Julie Backenkeller of the Rock Environmental Network concerning polystyrene food containers were ever taken seriously. When we take home food from our favorite restaurants we should be confident that it is packaged in a safe, sanitary container. We should not have to worry if it has been infected by E. coli, salmonella or parasites.

We can all agree about the need to prevent the spread of germs and bacterial disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 76 million illnesses occur, more than 300,000 persons are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from food-borne illness in the United States each year. Public health organizations encourage the use of single-use food service products, including polystyrene, because they are sanitary and provide increased food safety – particularly in hospitals, schools, and restaurants where it is critical that the foodservice ware be hygienic. Reusable china and glassware depend on washing after use. But consistent and thorough washing is not always the case: A 2002 study in Las Vegas found that 18 percent of reusable items tested had higher than acceptable bacterial counts.

Reusable plates and cups also have significant impacts on the environment.  They require copious amounts of water and energy to clean, time and time again. Plastic foodservice packaging conserves these resources and allows restaurants, schools and hospitals to save the water, energy, detergents and labor—required to sanitize reusables. Compared to glass, paper and aluminum, plastic foodservice packaging uses fewer resources and creates fewer emissions to manufacture, weigh less and produce fewer air emissions during transport. Check out this study, as well as what these students concluded

What is filling up landfills?  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the number one material is paper at 31%. How about plastic foodservice products? Only about 1%. What about litter? According to a 2007 study by Keep America Beautiful, “Take out food packaging [both paper and plastic]…on average comprised only 4.1 percentof the total visible items on state roadways.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the safety of food contact packaging and has approved the use of polystyrene since 1958.  Polystyrene also meets the stringent standards of the European Commission/European Food Safety Authority and the Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for use in packaging to store and serve food. 

As the leader of the plastics industry trade association, I stand by plastic foodservice products.  They help keep us safe from food-borne illnesses. Citizens in Janesville and across the country should be confident that polystyrene foodservice containers, when used properly, are a safe and smart choice.