Thursday, May 8th, 2014

War College in a Plastic World

By Kim Coghill, SPI Communications Director

While the concept of leading in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world has its roots in the U.S. military, the business community has borrowed the successful approach to strategic leadership and applied it to management training across industries.

“In reality, VUCA has never been more relevant, for the military and for business,” Gen. George W. Casey Jr. (Ret.), said in a Fortune magazine article that addresses parallels between his leadership challenges in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, and the current business environment.

Recognizing the value of VUCA leadership training, organizers of the 2014 Equipment & Moldmakers Leadership Summit in October have scheduled a half-day Executive Workshop designed to apply VUCA principles to plastics manufacturing management. The program, “Leading in a VUCA World,” will be taught by international business experts from the world renowned Thunderbird School of Global Management.

“Regardless of an organization’s size and footprint, the workshop is designed to equip attendees with strategies to overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities presented in a global industry,” said Jackie Dalzell, SPI’s director of industry affairs and staff leader for the Equipment & Moldmakers Council.

Leadership thinkers have been turning to lessons learned from the military to create paradigms for surviving and thriving in a turbulent, “permanent whitewater” world where old styles of managing predictability were falling short, Thunderbird professors Paul Kinsinger and Karen Walch said in an article titled, “Living and Leading in a VUCA World.”

Kinsinger and Walch said research shows that the keys to leading in a VUCA world include possessing the knowledge, mindfulness and ability to:

  1. Create a vision and “make sense of the world.” Sense-making is perhaps more important now than at any time in modern history for many companies, as we are not too many years away from the time when the global economy will actually be truly “global,” encompassing every country and in which competitors will be emanating from everywhere.
  2. Understand one’s own and others’ values and intentions. This speaks to having a core ability to know what you want to be and where you want to go at all times, even while being open to multiple ways to get there.
  3. Seek clarity regarding yourself and seek sustainable relationships and solutions. Leading in turbulence demands the ability to utilize all facets of the human mind. Even the most impressive cognitive minds will fall short in the VUCA world — it will take equal parts cognitive, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical intelligence to prevail.
  4. Practice agility, adaptability and buoyancy. This means the responsive and resilient ability to balance adroitly and right yourself to ride out those turbulent forces that cannot be avoided, and to pivot quickly to seize advantage of those that can be harnessed.
  5. Develop and engage social networks. The ability to recognize that the days of the single “great leader” are gone. In the VUCA world, the best leaders are the ones who harness leadership from everyone.

The Executive Workshop scheduled for the Summit is based on strategies developed by the U.S. Army College at the end of the Cold War to address threats that created a VUCA world.  Attendees will learn fundamental principles of a VUCA “antidote” combined with specific strategies resulting from in-depth research on trends impacting the plastics industry. The SPI 2014 Equipment & Moldmakers Leadership Summit is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 26 through Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, at Loew’s Ventana Canyon in Tucson, Ariz.

Other highlights of the Summit include a Brand Owner Panel discussing technology needs to support their product innovations, what equipment manufacturers and moldmakers need to know about new and reformulated materials, update on the U.S. manufacturing renaissance and re-shoring initiatives, and much more.  Register today by clicking here, seats are filling up fast!  We look forward to seeing you in Tucson.

 

 

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Chicago City Officials Vote Against American Manufacturing, 30,000 Jobs in Jeopardy

By Lee Califf, Executive Director, American Progressive Bag Alliance

Plastics industry jobs in Illinois suffered a blow on April 24 when the Chicago City Council’s environmental committee unanimously passed a partial plastic bag ban in the city. The measure is scheduled to go before the full city council this week before it is official.

This is a concern of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, who cites the jobs created from the plastics industry as a major plus for America’s economic recovery. The plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sector in the United States employs 30,800 people in 349 communities across the country. That’s a significant number of people in the total 900,000 employed by the U.S. plastics industry.

The plastics industry impact in Chicago is a snapshot of the entire country. An in-depth data analysis of the plastics industry’s 2012 performance globally and in the U.S. is detailed in the newly released reports titled, “The Definition, Size and Impact of the U.S. Plastics Industry,” and “Global Business Trends, Partners, Hot Products.”

The report contained the following numbers:

  • $41.7 billion – the U.S. plastics industry’s payroll in 2012
  • 1.4 million – the number of jobs attributed to the plastics industry when suppliers are added
  • $456 billion – the total U.S. shipments attributed to the plastics industry when suppliers are added
  • 6.7 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs – in the U.S. are in the plastics industry
  • 15.8 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs – in Michigan are in the plastics industry
  • 15.4 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs – in Indiana are in the plastics industry
  • 13.3 of every 1,000 non-farm jobs – in Ohio are in the plastics industry
  • 1 – California (because it is the largest state) has the most plastics industry employees (74,000)
  • 50 – number of states where plastics industry employees and manufacturing activities are found

SPI’s economic reports are free of charge for members. For non-members, the cost of each report is $395. Both reports may be downloaded at http://www.plasticsindustry.org/store

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.

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

SPI Steps Up to Advance Sustainability in Packaging

By Alan Carter, Director, Membership Services

To step-up efforts to promote its pursing zero waste strategies, SPI is supporting the manufacturing industry’s 2014 Sustainability in Packaging conference through sponsorship of the conference App.

The conference, scheduled March 5-7, in Orlando, Fla., will focus on the accomplishments and issues faced in developing “sustainable and profitable” packaging. Presentations will be made by companies and organizations including Coca-Cola, Safeway, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Waste Management, Zappos, Otterbox and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Pursing zero waste is at the core of the SPI Mission Statement: “To advance a pro-manufacturing agenda, strengthen global competitiveness, improve productivity and pursue zero-waste strategies for the U.S. plastics industry.”

Some of SPI programs in this area include the Recycling Committee, Operation Clean Sweep® and resinGEAR™.

SPI’s Recycling Committee is comprised of companies across the supply chain to include equipment manufacturers, processors, material suppliers and brand owners. The SPI Recycling Committee supports recycling efforts by working to identify and expand end-use opportunities for recycled plastics.

SPI’s Operation Clean Sweep®, a decades old, industry-led initiative designed to prevent resin pellet loss and help keep pellets out of the marine environment, continues to expand and is now being implemented in eight countries with the help of 12 industry associations. They include: the American Chemistry Council, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, PlasticsEurope, and 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).

resinGEAR™ is SPI’s private line of corporate, industrial and promotional apparel all made from recycled plastics and refashioned into gear that is used again in business every day.

To learn how your company can take advantage of these and other programs at SPI, contact SPI membership at +1.202.974.5212.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Plastics Continue to Solve Serious Health Problems in Africa

Every person in the plastics industry can take pride in how plastics are solving some of the problems that for so long have afflicted people in many parts of Africa. A simple example: Put impure water in a plastic bottle, leave it in the sun about six hours, and the UV rays purify the water.

Here are two other noteworthy plastics-based solutions to African problems, one as simple as the plastic bottle water purification, the other an ingeniously creative life saver.

The simple first: “Plastic Bags to Keep Premature Babies Warm” is the headline of a short New York Times article whose hero is the plastic bag erroneously considered a villain by many. A study of newborn babies in Zambia showed that a technique practiced in the USA, swaddling premature babies in sterile plastic wrap to keep their body temperatures from dropping dangerously, can be copied in poorer countries using plastic bags similar to grocery bags.

Water evaporates rapidly through the thin skin of premature babies and that can lead to life threatening heat loss. The study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that wrapping babies in plastic bags and then in a blanket was better at keeping babies warm than a blanket alone, with no instances of overheating or skin rashes.

The AidPod medicine packages fit in the spaces between Coca-Cola bottles

The AidPod medicine packages fit in the spaces between Coca-Cola bottles for travel to remote African villages.

Now the creative solution: The U.K.-based design firm pi Global, recently won the Diamond Award, the top honor at the 25th anniversary edition of the DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, as well as the Special Food Security Award. Pi Global developed the AidPod package for ColaLife, an independent non-profit organization (NGO) that works with The Coca-Cola Company’s distribution network to bring medicines into remote areas of Africa.

A Eureka moment came to Simon Berry, a former British aid worker in Zambia, when he realized that he could get a Coca-Cola virtually anywhere, yet one in seven children were dying from preventable causes before turning five, most from dehydration due to diarrhea. Berry founded the ColaLife organization and is now its CEO.

The AidPod is purpose-designed to nest between the bottles in Coca-Cola crates (see photo), thereby gaining a ride to remote villages for life-saving medicine it carries. Pi Global created a package that is also a functional part of the kit, both as a measured-dose mixing container and a drinking vessel. Early in the AidPod’s development, according to Berry, plastics were selected over cardboard for barrier properties, light weight, and the ability to design in the dosage-measuring water cup.

The AidPod package took top honors in DuPont's Packaging Awards 2013

The AidPod package took top honors in DuPont’s 2013 Packaging Innovation Awards.

In presenting the Diamond Award, William J. Harvey, President of DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, pointed out that the awards originally sought to champion collaboration as a critical component in innovation. “Twenty-five years later … it’s clear that collaboration remains central to bringing innovation to market,” he said.

A blog post by plastics journalist Doug Smock on the PlasticsToday website details more of the AidPod collaboration: pi Global “…designed a patented wedge-shape, vacuum-formed container made of 80% recycled PET, the plastic used as virgin material in soda bottles. Other partners joined the effort. Charpack makes the container and lid; Amcor Flexibles produces P-Plus perforated peelable film to seal the pack closed; and Packaging Automation makes the machinery that heat-seals the film to the AidPod.”

Coca-Cola is generally considered the most recognized single brand in the world, and thanks to the company’s distribution skills, you can find a cold one pretty much anywhere in the world. The AidPod has the potential to improve world health on a large scale. Pretty impressive for a plastic package made mostly from recycled PET (polyester terephthalate).