Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

State Department Tackles Marine Debris, Invites SPI into Discussion

By Mike Verespej, SPI Special Correspondent

The Our Oceans conference did more than just call attention to the need to protect the world’s oceans. It also made it clear that all countries and groups, including the plastics manufacturing industry, need to continue to be part of the solution.

“The ad hoc approach we have today with each nation and community pursuing its own independent policy simply will not suffice,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in his keynote address. “We are not going to meet this challenge unless … the entire world comes together to try to change course and protect the ocean from unsustainable fishing practices, unprecedented pollution, or the devastating effects of climate change.”Our Ocean

“There are a lot of challenges staring us in the face and we need to act on them,” said SPI president and CEO Bill Carteaux, who attended the invitation-only meeting this past June in Washington. “Getting the invitation to go was certainly a feather in our cap and recognition by the State Department that the plastics industry is not just part of the problem, but part of the solution, and needs to be in the discussion.”

Carteaux believes SPI’s presence at the conference will help develop relationships with non-government organizations (NGO) that might not have been otherwise possible.

“It has given us a platform to connect with NGOs and begin to develop projects with them,” he said. “We already have meetings set up with several NGOs. It is heartening to me that people want our help and want us to work with them.”

In addition, SPI and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) will meet this year with the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address marine debris issues.

More than 60 plastics associations representing 34 countries have more than 185 projects underway to address marine debris—part of an initiative that began in March 2011.

Those initiatives include the Operation Clean Sweep plastic pellet containment program that SPI and ACC have taken globally to 14 countries and

“It is still early, and no one has all the answers to tackling marine debris, but we are making progress,” said Carteaux. “One of the keys is to attack it and get people to dispose of things properly. A number of people at the conference came up to me and said ‘I’m glad you’re here because the plastics industry isn’t the problem, it’s an issue of people not disposing things properly.’”

“We want to push recycling and collection around the world, and push new uses for recycled material,” he said, “because if we do that, plastics won’t end up in wastewater and in oceans.”

Nestle Waters North America also believes “recycling is the cornerstone of sustainable packaging”—and solving the marine debris problem.

“Policy and action can work together to help advance stewardship of the oceans and all waterways,” said Brian Flaherty, vice president of public policy and external affairs for Nestle Waters North America, who addressed the issue of marine debris in a presentation at the conference. “We need to stop plastics from entering our oceans in the first place. The global challenge of marine debris that we are talking about here today is massive in scope. It is going to take all stakeholders coming together and making commitments to identify and implement solutions.

“The lessons we’ve learned are be humble, listen, learn and evolve,” said Flaherty. “Think big, take the first step and be transparent on how you’re doing.”

Carteaux said he walked away from the conference with at least three projects SPI can immediately work on:

  • Get other countries to allow the use of post-consumer recycled resin in food packaging, similar to the approach of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Campaign for tax credits for the use of recycled resin.  “If we can develop the markets, we can get the supply.”
  • Solve the challenge to recycling that comes from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles that have polypropylene caps.

“Addressing those things would have a significant impact on what’s going on and begin to solve some of the issues that lead to marine debris,” he said.

Friday, July 11th, 2014

California’s New Tax Exemption Could Save Plastics Manufacturers Money

By Jane Adams, SPI Senior Director, State Government Affairs

Plastics manufacturing companies operating in California could benefit from a tax break that became effective July 1.

The new law allows certain businesses in manufacturing to purchase or lease manufacturing or research and development equipment at a reduced sales and use tax rate if the purchase occurred on or after July 1, according to the California Board of Equalization (BOE).

In an effort to clarify some of the nuances associated with the new law, SPI featured Lynn Whitaker from the BOE in a recent webinar. Whitaker discussed what is exempt, what is categorized as “qualified tangible personal property” and other important terms that determine the eligibility of purchases.

Any new machinery and equipment, control devices, pollution control equipment or other property to be used in the manufacturing process may qualify for the 3.3125 percent rate, down from the current 7.50 percent statewide tax rate. However, the BOE cautions that the exemption applies to the state portion of the sales and use tax, not to any local, city, county or district taxes.

Eligibility requires that the firm purchase qualified tangible personal property like machinery and equipment, including component parts and contrivances such as belts, shafts, moving parts and operating structures.

“Qualified tangible personal property” does not include:

  • Consumables with a useful life of less than one year
  • Furniture, inventory and equipment used in the extraction process or equipment used to store finished products
  • Items used primarily in administration, general management or marketing

The property must be purchased to be used primarily for the following uses:

  • Manufacturing, processing, refining, fabricating or recycling of tangible personal property
  • Research and development
  • Maintaining, repairing, measuring or testing property listed above.

To view an archived version of the webinar, “How to Benefit from the New Tax Exemptions for California Manufacturers,” click here.

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Pursuing Zero Waste Drives SPI to Join National Effort to Increase Recycling

By Kim Holmes, SPI, Director, Recycling and Diversion

As part of its mission to pursue zero waste, SPI has joined other top organizations as an inaugural member of the Recycling Partnership, a grant fund established by the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) to support and transform public recycling performance.

Selected communities will use grant funding to:

  • purchase roll carts for curbside collection
  • provide technical assistance with program implementation and improvements
  • help advocate the economic value of the recycling industry to decision makers
  • create educational tools for residents

Working alongside the likes of the American Chemistry Council, Alcoa Foundation and Coca-Cola, SPI will serve on the Recycling Partnership’s Advisory Committee as a voting member. In this role, SPI will advocate for expansion of programs in communities that have the capability to maximize recovery of plastic products including rigids, thermoforms and other non-bottle packaging materials.

SPI has emerged as an important stakeholder in the recycling discussion offering a unique perspective as its members represent the entire plastics supply chain. Its highly-active Recycling Committee is working on programs that raise awareness about the demand for material, the recoverability of new feedstreams and the advancement of technologies that improve quality of material.trash cans

Since SPI’s members’ expertise is in processing, recycling and manufacturing rather than collection, the organization has not created unique programming in this area. However, identifying opportunities to influence collection in ways that support the work of SPI’s members is of high importance. Joining the Recycling Partnership presents the right opportunity to proactively cultivate collection programs in a way that reflects the industry’s goals in a tangible, measurable way.

The Recycling Partnership’s purpose and mission line up with SPI’s goals to support stronger plastics recycling partnerships across the country. By assessing the overall health of the recycling infrastructure, identifying the barriers to recycling, and building a to-do list around those barriers, the Recycling Partnership will create a new framework of public-private collaboration to improve the recycling infrastructure.

Overseen by CVP, in the first year at least three southeastern communities will receive one-time grants. Data and other information collected in the first round will serve as benchmarks to guide the partnership through its national expansion in the next two to five years. Projections show that work in 10 communities could result in a 1 billion pound increase of recovered recyclables.

Other members of the Recycling Partnership are the American Forest & Paper Association, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, Ball Corporation and Carton Council.

ABOUT THE CURBSIDE VALUE PARTNERSHIP

The Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) is a 501(c)(3) organization designed to grow participation in curbside recycling programs nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.recyclecurbside.org/.

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Doors Open Oct. 3 for Annual Manufacturing Day

By Mike Verespej, SPI Correspondent

Plastics manufacturers will showcase what they do and how their companies contribute to the U.S. economy on the third annual Manufacturing Day, Oct. 3.

“Manufacturers make a lot of stuff in the U.S,” said Michael Araten, president and CEO of K’NEX Brands and The Rodon Group, based in Hatfield, Pa. “With Manufacturing Day, (companies) will be able to showcase nationwide what we do so that people get the scale of what we are manufacturing here in the U.S. It is an opportunity for companies to open their facilities to the public and showcase 21st century manufacturing and whet their interests in choosing manufacturing for a career.”

The day—a grassroots effort designed to improve the public perception of manufacturing in America and help manufacturers attract the skilled workers they need for tomorrow—is expected to have well more than 1,200 companies participating—up from 800 last year and 200 in the 2011, according to Manufacturing Day 2014, a group of industry sponsors and co-sponsors.

“Everybody needs to support Manufacturing Day, and open their doors to show people the ingenuity and innovation in the plastics industry,” SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux said. “We need to connect with future generations and talk about the great careers that are available, whether you go to college or not.”

Araten agrees. “To have a successful image and attract new workers, we have to make people aware of what we make. We have to inspire the youth of today and convince them these are the jobs of tomorrow. This is an excellent way for manufacturers to tell them their story.”

Now in its third year, Manufacturing Day will have a new twist for 2014, with the documentary film, American Made Movie, focusing on products made in the U.S. The goal of the film: educate people coast to coast on how businesses in their own backyards support not only their local communities, but the nation’s economy with items made here in the U.S.A that are globally competitive.

In addition, Manufacturing Day gives companies “the opportunity to address common misperceptions about manufacturing,” said Charles A. Sholtis, CEO of Plastic Molding Technology Inc.

“By opening up shop floors around the country, we are able to show modern manufacturing for what it is—a sleek, safe, technology-driven industry that offers secure, good-paying jobs with benefits,” said Sholtis. “Opening up our plants for tours on Manufacturing Day draws greater attention to the outstanding opportunities that a career in manufacturing can provide.”

Rodon, for example, makes sure its tours, show people “things in their everyday life that we make here and all the things that are done behind-the-scenes to get it made,” said Araten. “People are impressed with cleanliness of our plant, how well lit it is, the scale at which we do things, all the high technology, and seeing robots work in practical application.”

Araten also says companies need to participate to help keep America strong.

“To have a truly independent country, you have to be able to make things,” he says. “If you do that, you control your own destiny. And manufacturing is getting more attention as one of things in the U.S. economy that is working.”

“Manufacturing Day helps the manufacturing community (showcase) the innovative industry it has come to be,” and its importance to the economy, adds Sholtis of PMT. “Plastics plays a major role in the manufacturing sector in the U.S., employing approximately 900,000 workers and producing more than $300 billion in shipments annually.”

In 2012, the manufacturing sector contributed $1.87 trillion to the economy or 11.9 percent of the gross domestic product. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, every dollar spend in manufacturing adds another $1.48 to the economy. Overall, manufacturing supports 17.4 million jobs in the U.S., with an average annual salary of more than $77,000 compared to the average salary of $60,168 for all industries.

This year, as in year’s past, SPI is a sponsor of Manufacturing Day. For more information, visit: www.mfgday.com or call 1-888-394-4362.

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Sholtis Credits Staff with ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ Award

By Mike Verespej, SPI Correspondent

You could fill a book with the long laundry list of accomplishments that led to injection-molding company Plastic Molding Technology Inc. being chosen in March as the 2014 small company Manufacturer of the Year by the Manufacturing Leadership Council. In its 10th year, Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council honors companies and individuals that are shaping the future of global manufacturing.

And while certainly proud of what the $10 million El Paso, Texas, company with 100 employees has accomplished, CEO Charles A. Sholtis is even prouder of what the award says about his workforce.

Charles Sholtis

Charles Sholtis

“The award speaks volumes about the caliber of our management team, the workforce we have, and what they’ve accomplished the last three years in streamlining processes, identifying areas for waste and cost reduction and finding ways to be more sustainable,” Sholtis said. “It says a lot about their ability to take on large projects as a team and make the company more profitable through operational excellence.”

Indeed, despite escalating raw material prices and the economic crash in late 2008, PMT achieved record revenue and earnings in fiscal years 2010 through 2013.

“You are only as good as your people. Without them, we wouldn’t be the success story we are,” said Sholtis. “These honors simply reinforce that the plastics industry is at the forefront of best practices in manufacturing.”

Here are just some of PMT’s achievements the last three years:

  • Savings of 1.8 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year, half of them from a grinder control system developed in-house that has reduced energy consumption on the company’s 40 plastics grinders by 95 percent or nearly 900,000 kWh annually.
  • Eighteen all-electric presses added since 2010—part of a $2.9 million investment in equipment and automation—have cut energy consumption by almost 400,000 kWh annually.
  • Plant-wide efficiency has improved to 96 percent, and on-time deliveries have risen to 98 percent.
  • Production scrap was reduced by more than 50 percent in the first year of a program to cut waste. The company also reduced its use of virgin resins by 380,000 pounds annually by blending in plastic regrind and using recycled resin.
  • A new mold storage system has saved an estimated 780 man-hours per year and sped up the mold setting process, and a new overhead crane system for mold handling has saved an estimated 250 man-hours annually.
  • A standalone mold service bench with a gantry crane on the production floor has reduced the time needed for routine cleanings, saving another 420 man-hours per year.

Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council in March honored 100 world-class manufacturing companies and individual leaders as winners of the 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Awards (ML Awards). According to the Council, recipients of the ML Awards have distinguished themselves by embracing breakthrough innovation and enabling their companies to anticipate and respond to customers with unmatched agility.