Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Recycling Rundown: Data that Shows Recycling is Still Economically Viable, Environmentally Beneficial and, Most Importantly, Growing

A bouquet of flowers made from recycled plastics.

A bouquet of flowers made from recycled plastics.

There’s a lot of data illustrating recycling’s economic viability, environmental bona fides and overall growth out there. We’ve collected some of it here for the benefit of naysayers and true believers alike. Below is a (not even close to comprehensive) rundown of facts about the importance of recycling. Did we miss any? Leave us a comment or send us a tweet and we’ll add it in!

Robin Wiener, president of the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (via Recycling International): “Recycling accounts for nearly US$ 106 billion in annual economic activity and is responsible for 471,587 direct and indirect jobs in the USA, generating more than US$ 4.3 billion in state and local revenues annually and a further US$ 6.76 billion in federal taxes.”

Grist’s Ben Adler: “Commercial customers want [recycling] to lower their waste bill, whether it’s a restaurant, factory, or college,” says Chaz Miller, director of policy and advocacy for the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA). “They see the ability to sell their recyclables and they want the revenue. We do not see commercial clients backing away from recycling.”

Eco-Cycle Solutions: If everyone in the United States recycled only their plastic water bottles for one year (all 42.6 BILLION of them), that would offset the greenhouse gases generated by 1,065,000 round-trips between London and New York in coach every year.

The Closed Loop Fund: “According to the EPA, recycling rates doubled from 16 percent in 1990 to 28.5 percent and to 34 percent in 2010—a 40 percent increase every decade.”

From the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division: “According to, the average prices for recovered plastics as of June 2, 2015, were: HDPE natural plastic (milk jugs) $0.32 per pound, PET (beverage bottles) $0.14 per pound, and PP (deli and dairy tubs and lids) $0.14 per pound. During the same period, prices of mixed paper, newspaper and old corrugated containers (cardboard) ranged from $0.02 to $0.04 per pound.”

Ron Gonen, former Deputy Commissioner for Sanitation and Recycling in NYC:  “The economics of recycling for a City are simple. Send paper, metal, glass, plastics and food waste to landfill, the City is charged a fee….Send the same material to a local recycling facility or organics processor, the City avoids the landfill fee and sometimes also generates revenue.”

Recycle Bin

Rick Moore, executive director of the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR): “Even with low plastic resin prices, use of recycled PET in the U.S. is at an all-time high.”

There is a paradigm shift happening in waste management.  We are no longer just talking about recycling; rather, we’re having a broader conversation about sustainable materials management, and taking a bigger systems approach. There are both measurable and immeasurable benefits of recycling in the big picture of sustainable materials management and overall lifecycle impacts.

Send us a comment or tweet us at @SPI_4_Plastics if you’d like to contribute additional facts about the benefits or importance of recycling.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

IHS Economist: Patience Key to Emerging Market Success

Nariman Behravesh, IHS’ chief economist, doesn’t mince words about where companies can expect to find growth in the coming years, or even decades. “The emerging market is still the future,” he said.

Nariman Behravesh, IHS Chief Economist

Nariman Behravesh, IHS Chief Economist

Lately, however, the economies that comprise what’s considered the emerging market have looked a little worse for wear, rattling investors and making exporters anxious. “The outlook for the emerging world is shaky,” Behravesh said. “Commodity prices and export revenues are hurting, and separately both their stock markets and currencies are getting hit pretty badly.” This has created a situation where finances have become much more problematic for the region; credit conditions have tightened, adding another hurdle that these economies will have to vault over on their way to relative stability.

“Over the last four years there’s been a significant deceleration in emerging market growth. They’re growing at about half the rate they were four years ago,” Behravesh said. “What you’re seeing in the developed world—the U.S., Europe, Japan—is just a very gradual acceleration of growth, so that’s not where the threat is coming from; the threat is from the emerging markets.”

Despite the risks, according to Behravesh, it’s important to differentiate between short-term volatility and long-term growth prospects. “The emerging market is going through a process of catching up with the developed economy,” he said. “For them to realize that future, it’s going to take a while longer. Companies that want to do business in the emerging world and make that a part of their growth strategy will have to be patient because it’s going to take a while.”

“This has to be a long-term strategy. This is not a short-term strategy for growth,” Behravesh added.

For the short-term what companies are doing to hedge their bets is bringing business back to where growth is fastest, namely Europe and particularly the U.S. “That’s what we’re seeing now,” Behravesh said, noting that companies shouldn’t expect this reshoring of business back to familiar shores to carry on in perpetuity.

“This is temporary,” Behravesh said. “The question is how temporary.”

For more insights from Behravesh and a host of other plastics and petrochemical industry experts, register today for the Global Plastics Summit, Oct. 28-30 in Chicago.


Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Plastics Reaches Out on Manufacturing Day 2015

The skills gap is a challenge facing manufacturing, and this year the plastics industry opened its doors and made its innovative voice heard to inspire the next generation of manufacturing all-stars to remember that creating things is always cool.

Toshiba Machine

Toshiba Machine

This year was the most plastics-centric Manufacturing Day ever. 35 plastics facilities hosted tours and educational events across SPI’s four regions. More than 600 people passed through the facilities of the Rodon Group, AMA Plastics, Parkinson Technologies, Inc., Toshiba Machine, Yushin America, Wittmann-Battenfeld and MR Mold.  Attendees ranged from young professionals and job seekers to school-age children who got an early chance to see what a career in manufacturing looks like in today’s world.

The Rodon Group

The Rodon Group

For more photos, visit SPI’s Facebook Page here.

Friday, September 4th, 2015

So Much Water, So Close to Home: With In-Person Meetings, How Far You Travel is Less Important than the Simple Fact that You Traveled at All

At any given time, business travel is a relatively reliable indicator of economic health. Sure, it’s an oversimplification, and more of a reflection of economic solidity and optimism than a cause of either, but the truth is that businesses send their employees to travel when times are good, and they cut back when times aren’t. For instance, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), business travel spending declined sharply during the recession in 2008 and 2009, and improved with the overall economic outlook, reflecting the fact that companies spend more to make face-to-face meetings happen in times of plenty than they do in times of famine.


Attendees at the 2014 SPI South Regional Networking Reception.

That’s a shame though, because it’s through face-to-face meetings that good business gets done. A 2013 report by the U.S. Travel Association found that, when asked about the effects of business travel budget cutbacks, only four percent of respondents whose companies reduced business travel spending since 2007 stated that those cutback aided company performance, while 57 percent said that those reductions in business travel hurt their company’s performance. The same report found that business travelers believe 42 percent of their customers would eventually be lost without in-person meetings, and that prospects are nearly twice as likely to become customers with an in-person meeting than without one.

The point is that how far you travel matters less than the fact that you traveled, and that’s as true for visits to existing customers as it is to visits of prospects and even fellow industry colleagues. The face-to-face meeting is still the best way to connect with other professionals in business, whether the aim is developing a new lead, a new resource, a new supplier or simply a new contact with whom to trade ideas and strategies. Events that bring together industry professionals in such a way are like members-only events that everyone’s invited to; everyone who attends has something in common with everyone else in the room, because all of them understand that it’s only through in-person meetings that you can start to build the trust necessary for a lasting, mutually-beneficial  business relationship.

Attendees at an SPI Regional Event.

Attendees at an SPI Regional Event.

The fact that there’s no directly proportional relationship between miles flown and quality of visit means that whenever companies and plastics professionals have a chance to take advantage of an event in their neck of the woods, they should do so whenever the opportunity presents itself. That’s why SPI started hosting smaller meetings for members and plastics companies operating in each of its four regions (West, Midwest, South and Northeast). These programs are designed to make it easier for SPI members to benefit from the kind of quality that only face-to-face meetings can provide, without having to exhaust their travel budgets. And while the guest list at these events might be smaller, the programming that goes along with each of them still delivers a great deal of value, even beyond networking opportunities. Most regional lunches and dinners are hosted at the facilities of SPI member companies and many of them include plant tours, giving attendees the chance to learn more about their industry and the best practices employed by some of the biggest, most innovative names in plastics. Additionally, many regional meetings include a timely industry update from SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux, as well as the chance to have a direct dialogue with Carteaux and other industry and SPI leaders. They give attendees the chance not just to develop new business relationships and their own professional network, but also to increase their involvement with their trade association: SPI listens intently to its members and it’s often through conversations at these regional programs where the organization acquires the vital insight it requires to drive its grassroots outreach and advocacy programs. As much as these programs offer attendees a chance to change their professional lives, they also offer them the chance to change the face of their industry by making their voice heard and empowering SPI’s efforts to support and promote the U.S. plastics industry.

The point is, even when the recession gave cash-strapped companies a reason to cut back on business travel, this strategy is pennywise and pound-foolish. This is even more the case now that the recession has ended and the U.S. plastics industry is thriving, not to mention the fact that SPI’s regional events make it possible for professionals to get big benefits right in their backyards. To learn more about SPI’s Fall slate of regional programming, click here.

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

How to Increase Capacity Without Adding Plants and Equipment

By Glenn Nowak, Vice President of Sales at IQMS

Glenn Nowak, IQMS

Glenn Nowak, IQMS

The theme of this year’s Global Plastics Summit, “On the Brink of New Capacity,” just happens to be a topic that we help our manufacturers solve frequently.  As the economy continues to experience an upturn, more and more manufacturers begin seeking ways to increase capacity without adding floor space, equipment or personnel.

There are two common routes manufacturers take when faced with a surge in demand. The first is to maintain status quo with current business processes and operations, while adding new work centers, employees and square footage to handle the increase. The alternate route is to dial up all existing resources as efficiently as possible first, prior to expanding. With the second option, the ultimate goal would be 100 percent utilization of what you already have, before adding on more.

To have as efficient an operation as possible, you need a shop floor with no downtime or waste – A finely tuned plant that finishes one job and immediately begins the next, with the proper tools, operators and materials prepped and ready to deploy. This is no small order. How can you make the right job, with the right tools and right quantities, all flow together at the right time?

The answer is a comprehensive ERP and MES solution capable of automating your shop floor. Comprehensive is the key word here. While integration of third-party programs into a core ERP system can work, it is fraught with challenges such as duplicate data entry, information delays and silos, interface issues and customization expenses.

The key to increasing capacity is to have an end-to-end solution that covers every aspect of your business, from ERP to MES, MRP, financials, order management, WMS, CRM and more. This single source solution is what makes every aspect of your business visible, traceable and incredibly efficient.

A few of the areas that a comprehensive ERP solution can help you increase capacity include:

  • A process monitoring module that links directly to work centers and high value production equipment at the PLC/sensor level to collect and relay process parameters immediately to an ERP solution for analysis, allowing you to greatly improve efficiency, productivity and accountability
  • Finite scheduling and dispatch list tools that automatically analyze which operators and work centers are the most efficient. By smart loading your work centers based on historical performance data, you ensure that you are optimally using your assets
  • Automated work order tools that create ideal production order batch quantities through minimum and maximum run sizes, multiples of designations and time fences to eliminate unnecessary teardowns and resets and optimize production runs
  • Manufacturing-specific BOMs and routing workflows that offer 30-plus different manufacturing types, with fields and features specific to each process. A software system that also offers multi-level BOMs, displays equipment and labor requirements and contains the flexibility to schedule processes that are work center, assembly line, application based or a combination of many types will also help you increase capacity
  • Intelligent material resource planning (MRP) tools, such as safety stock features that automatically generate purchase orders when common inventory items run low, increase your inventory turns rate and ensure you keep just the minimum quantity on-hand
  • A maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) module can help you avoid costly unscheduled downtime by first automatically gathering usage data and tracking where the tool or equipment is used throughout your shop floor. Then, based on automatic alerts that remind you of upcoming and pending maintenance, generate work orders and schedule labor and materials for planned maintenance when you have the parts and bandwidth to take the machine offline.

A need to increase in capacity is a good problem for any manufacturer to have. But rather than investing in new personnel, machines and floor space to handle the boost, manufacturers should first consider if automating their plants to 100 percent capacity with a comprehensive ERP and MES solution isn’t a less expensive and more flexible approach to adding capacity.