Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Plastics Industry Leaders Clean Up the Beach While in Miami

By Michael Salmon, Public Affairs Manager

Bottles, aluminum cans, food wrappers, rubber tires and even a discarded grill were among items pulled from the Crandon Park beach in Miami during a beach clean up event hosted by the Ocean Conservancy and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.  The beach cleanup kicked off SPI’s National Board Meeting  held in a nearby Miami hotel.

SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux and VP Patty Long didn’t hesitate to wade through knee-deep water for trash.

SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux and VP Patty Long didn’t hesitate to wade through knee-deep water for trash.

As the bus of 40 to 45 SPI staff and association members pulled up to the beach, Miami-Dade County Park coordinator Alex Martinez noted that “with this number of people collecting the trash, we’ll actually get something done.”

SPI President and Chief Executive Officer William R. Carteaux slipped on a pair of rubber gloves and led the group, wading through the knee-deep water at times. After a couple of hours in the water and scouring the underbrush, SPI members and staff collected nearly three pickup trucks full of trash from a particular section of beach. At one point, association member Tad Mcguire and SPI staffer Michael Taylor pulled out a rusty tent supporter, claiming lightheartedly, “we’re the plastics industry, we’re not quitting.”

The following day, SPI presented a check to Miami-Dade Park Service official Bill Ahern for the Sea Turtle Conservation Program. Ahern and his wife Selina Mills originally met while on a sea turtle preservation event, and have put much effort into their preservation during the last 25 years.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recognizes Ahern’s efforts behind turtle preservation and issued a permit for further work in that area, conducting  turtle surveys, relocating nests, hatchling releases and other duties regarding marine turtles.

In addition to welcoming new members and association business at the meeting, SPI promoted its zero waste initiative, as well as their ongoing concern to mitigate the trash in the oceans and waterways. It is a feature in SPI’s new magazine, titled Marine Debris: A Deep Dive into the Science & Solutions.

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Virginia County Makes Rigid Recycling Convenient

By Jamie Clark, Vice President and General Manager of Printpack Rigid

In July, James City County, Va., and three other Virginia municipalities will join the ranks of progressive counties by offering residents the opportunity to recycle rigid plastics at the curbside. Among other plastic containers, items added to curbside pickup will include plastics like yogurt cups and grocery store clam shells.

Jamie Clark

Jamie Clark

As an officer of SPI and chairman of the affiliated Rigid Plastics Packaging Group (RPPG), my team and I helped support a study on rigid plastics recovery within the county that led to this decision. I live and work in James City County.

The Virginia Public Service Authority (VPPSA), which manages curbside collection for the four municipalities, led the initiative with support from Printpack and RPPG.  The study showed that when households were asked to recycle all rigid plastics, the entire quantity of recyclables went up by 20 percent with polypropylene and non-bottle PET making up the majority of the increase.  PET bottles, which are already included in the program, also saw a substantial bump.  Both polypropylene and PET are highly recyclable and valuable to the industry.  In addition, there was no significant increase in non-recyclable materials.

National recycling statistics show a trend in improvements in the recovery stream for rigid plastics.  Non-bottle rigid plastic recovery increased threefold from 325,440,000 pounds collected in 2007 to 933,927,245 pounds in 2011. Also, the ratio of materials staying in Canada and the U.S. as opposed to being shipped to other countries, increased from 37 percent to 61 percent, which is higher than aluminum and paper.

VPPSA officials were initially reluctant to collect all rigid plastics because they were concerned that the market for mixed plastics seemed to be centered overseas, and they wanted to be certain that if rigids were collected, they would actually be recycled. Traditionally, the only plastic materials they accepted were PET bottles and HDPE jugs with necks.

When VPPSA put out their curbside collection contract for bid, they did not include all rigid plastics in the RFQ because of the perceived lack of economic incentive and the fear that there would be cost increases associated with collecting all rigids.

With the support of SPI and the American Chemistry Council, I assured them that the domestic market was developing to handle this type of recovery. The expanded recycling won’t cost the localities more, nor will it require a change in the regional contract.  There is a market for the materials, and contractors seem to be looking for more mixed plastic.

I also pointed out that the level of polypropylene consumed in China is three to four times that in the U.S., thus we should not be surprised that Asia has high demand for this raw material. This is a good thing.

A meeting held in January 2014 to discuss expanding the region’s recycling program included Printpack executives and representatives from the SPI, the Southeast Recycling Development Council, County Waste (the MRF that won the bid substantially reducing VPPSA’s cost) and James City County’s Economic Development and General Services Departments.

County Waste officials said they were collecting rigid plastics elsewhere and were ready to collect them in our region. County Waste made the difference here – they clearly understood that maximizing collection and recycling of all rigid plastics was profitable.

The James City County Economic Development Group was instrumental in aligning the parties and moving this initiative forward.  There is good reason that Forbes Magazine ranked Virginia the best state for Business in 2013.

The grassroots efforts of Printpack associates helped generate attention to the issue. Our associates, who live in James City and the other municipalities involved, reached out to their respective local officials and let them know this was an important issue.  This resulted in several critical meetings and plant tours with influential elected officials.

Being accessible the Virginia Gazette, the local newspaper, helped promote the effort.   Environmental reporter Cortney Langley was intrigued by the story as it was a case where industry leaders were actually pushing for “the right thing to do.”  She published two stories about the initiative.

Citizens of the county can expect a simple procedure of simply separating their plastics in a separate bin to be picked up with regular waste disposal.  With local industries and citizens at large aligned, this no cost solution to aid in the recovery of plastics is projected to be a hit in our community.

If there’s a lesson for our industry – it’s that we can make a difference.   We have 900,000 people employed in our industry we need engage them all and make them ambassadors to communicate our message across the nation.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

For SPI Recycling Committee, the Future to Zero Waste is Bright

By Kim Holmes, SPI’s Director, Recycling and Diversion

With an organization-wide mantra to pursue zero waste, last year SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association formed its newest committee to focus on recovery and recycling of scrap plastics, a program that further supports the zero waste initiative. The make-up of SPI’s membership, which represents the full plastics supply chain, gives the newly formed Recycling Committee a unique angle to approach the full lifecycle of discussions around recovery of plastics. Since the formal establishment of the committee in the fall of 2013, the group attracted nearly 50 member companies to become involved in a broad range of efforts.

“It’s truly exciting to see companies from across the supply chain, bringing together their knowledge, expertise and passion to help further plastic recovery. By efficiently leveraging these collective assets, we are on track to accomplish some exciting work this year,” noted Lori Carson, director of commercial operations at Phoenix Technologies International and chair of the SPI Recycling Committee.

The SPI Recycling Committee met March 10 in advance of the Plastics Recycling Conference to discuss projects that each subcommittee will undertake this year and to gather feedback from committee members on progress and the direction of the course that the group has charted. The meeting was widely attended by plastics industry leaders from processors and suppliers to brand owners as well as non SPI members.

Attendees heard from speakers including SPI President and CEO William Carteaux, who kicked-off the meeting with praise for the committee’s progress and leadership since its 2013 formation. Other discussions included global efforts and initiatives that members can become involved in. To that end, Michael Taylor, SPI’s senior international affairs, presented the group with information on a number of international opportunities from past SPI trade missions and planned 2014 missions.

Some of the activities that will be undertaken in 2014 include:

• Developing strategies for navigating the changing domestic and export markets
• Engaging federal regulators on key issues shaping the plastics recycling industry
• Providing tools and resources to members on changing packaging and labeling trends
• Mapping brand owner and processor needs for recycled plastics
• Technical projects that will help expand the use and recovery of scrap plastics

The committee will work on recycling issues taking place in all segments of the plastics industry value chain. The next meeting is scheduled for May. For more information about the committee contact Kim Holmes at kholmes@plasticsinudstry.org.

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Product Sustainability Program Gains Momentum Throughout World


By Michael Taylor, SPI Senior Director International Affairs & Trade

Sustainability has received a great deal of attention from the public, media and the business community for a number of years. Yet, there are still those that believe that sustainability is more of a public relations ploy than an issue with real implications for business performance and resiliency.

For the business community, sustainability goes well beyond mere window-dressing. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can improve their competitive position, increase their market share, and boost shareholder value. Oftentimes business sustainability is defined as a process whereby companies manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities. A shortened form of the impacts referred to here consists of profits, people and planet.

This accounting-based approach, however, does not take into full consideration the time element that is inherent within business sustainability. With time taken into consideration, a more appropriate definition of business sustainability is resiliency over time, thus those businesses that can survive shocks do so because they are connected to healthy economic, social and environmental systems.

There are a number of best practices that advance business sustainability and permit companies to establish themselves as leaders in this space.  These practices include stakeholder engagement, environmental management systems, reporting and disclosure, and life-cycle analysis.

Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) is an international product stewardship program designed to prevent resin pellet loss and help keep pellets out of the marine environment. The OCS program is administered by SPI:  The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division.

In the OCS program, every segment of the plastics industry has a role to play – including resin producers, transporters, bulk terminal operators and plastics processors – by implementing good housekeeping and pellet containment practices.

The goal: achieving zero pellet loss.

Zero Pellet Loss is a priority for the plastics industry—and a critical issue for the environment. Spilled pellets can make their way into local waterways and ultimately estuaries and the ocean. This isn’t just an eyesore and a litter issue; pellets, if accidentally mistaken for food by birds or marine animals, could harm them. That’s why the industry is behind Zero Pellet Loss—and it can only be achieved by everyone working together. The OCS Program was created to help businesses that handle pellets protect the environment and keep it clean.

OCS is not simply promoted at the company/facility level in the U.S. alone.  The program is also promoted by plastics industry associations around the world.  When a foreign association becomes an international partner, they promote OCS to their member companies and within their own country.  At this time, there are 14 country associations and one multi-country association signed on as international partners to promote the program.  The map below shows those parts of the globe that are already a part of ongoing OCS promotion and those that are considering joining the promotion effort

You can see just how much of the world’s coastlines are engaged currently, and just how much more we need to get on board.

Most recently, there was a surge in membership in the Americas with several associations joining along with the significant addition of PlasticsEurope.  In the Americas, associations in Brazil (ABIPLAST – Associação Brasileira da Indústria do Plástico), Chile (ASIPLA – Asociación Gremial de Industriales del Plástico de Chile), Colombia (ACOPLÁSTICOS), Costa Rica (ACIPLAST – La Asociación Costarricense de la Industria del Plástico) and Ecuador (ASEPLAS – La Asociación Ecuatoriana de Plásticos) are now set to promote the OCS program in their respective countries.  Of course, Europe has been a traditional leader in promoting the global environment and sustainability.  It is very good, however, to see the Latin and South American region showing leadership in these globally important areas too.

If you could take a simple step to help strengthen your company’s:

  • sustainability initiatives;
  • contribution to preserving water quality and wildlife;
  • compliance with federal and state regulations and avoidance of fines;
  • safety/housekeeping program;
  • employees’ well-being;
  • operational efficiency;
  • financial bottom line; and
  • reputation in the community…

…would you take it?

OCS as a product stewardship program is truly a no-brainer.  It is a proven program that is doing something positive about protecting the global environment.  As a best practice from a business sustainability perspective, it is equally a no-brainer. Business growth and environmental conservation can go hand in hand and there are tangible economic benefits derived from growing sustainably. For example, companies that are more sustainable are also more innovative and adaptive to their business environments which means more competitive.

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Canadian Plastics Industry Association Joins SPI’s Efforts to Recycle

By Kim Coghill, SPI Director, Communications

The Recycling Committee of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association said today the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) joined SPI’s effort to purse zero waste by participating in RecyclePlastics365.org, a recycling marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of scrap plastic materials and recycling services.

Carol Hochu

Carol Hochu

“The Canadian plastics industry is committed to continuing to increase plastics recycling across the country, and developing technologies and new markets for the recycled plastic,” said Carol Hochu, president and CEO of CPIA. “Through our relationships with associations like SPI and RecyclePlastics365.org, we are efficiently and effectively promoting and protecting plastics globally. CPIA will encourage Canadian plastics manufacturers and recyclers to join us in supporting and utilizing this tool.”

Kim Holmes, SPI’s director of recycling and diversion, said, “Canada’s interest in connecting to RecyclePlastics365.org demonstrates the success and market for the service we are providing. RecyclePlastics365.org helps bridge the supply and demand for recycled plastics and services, bringing value for both SPI members and the broader plastics industry.

“We look forward to expanding the database to include our Canadian partners in the industry, and to expanding the geographical scope of sourcing and selling recycled plastics in North America,” Holmes said. “This marketplace is just one area in which the plastics industry is working diligently to develop new recovery opportunities for plastics, which are too valuable to waste.”

Launched in June 2013, RecyclePlastics365.org is a tool accessible to association members and non-members. Firms may self-register for a free basic listing or they may purchase an enhanced listing that enables them to provide more information and self-promotion. All trade association proceeds generated through the enhanced listings and ad placements are being reinvested into the recycling industry to support SPI and CPIA recycling programs.

RecyclePlastics365.org features companies listed in categories such as Plastic Scrap Purchasers, Plastic Scrap Sellers, Post-Consumer Recycle Materials, Post-Industrial Recycle Materials, Recycling Equipment and Business Services/Logistics. Buyers, and those seeking recycle services, can search for suppliers via keyword search or by clicking on a category to find suppliers.

RecyclePlastics365.org also includes request for proposal (RFP) tools that enable buyers to reach out to selected suppliers based on search results, upload project specs and/or email a company RFP to selected vendors.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) is the national voice of the national voice for plastics in Canada. With over 2400 companies employing nearly 80,000 workers, Canada’s $20-billion plastics industry is a sophisticated, multi-faceted sector encompassing plastic products manufacturing, machinery, moulds, and resins. CPIA is dedicated to post-use resource recovery leadership by working collaboratively with stakeholders to divert plastics from landfill through greater recycling and energy recovery of plastics.