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

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).

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Another Misadventure of Fact-Challenged Anti-BPA Activists

I think you should read a very informative online article about a recent

event in the ongoing activist attacks on Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in a few plastics, including the epoxy liners of food cans that prevent botulism and spoilage. It’s an enlightening, easy to understand piece of scientific journalism with sharp insights on the chemiphobic and/or plastiphobic activists.

The article is on the Forbes website, the author is Jon Entine, and the title is “Bisphenol A (BPA) Found Not Harmful, Yet Again — So Why Did So Many Reporters and NGOs Botch Coverage, Yet Again?” In it, Entine, a senior fellow at the Center for Health & Risk Communication at George Mason University, describes how a press release from the University of California titled “BPA’s Real Threat May Be After It Has Metabolized” about a recent BPA study quickly turned into articles on numerous websites, including those of well-known news sources and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Many of the NGOs and journalists are anti-BPA activists that have been on the attack BPA for years, so the press release headline likely caused them to think the new study may be what they need to finally bring about the banning of the chemical. The articles they quickly published carried headlines such as “BPA is Bad to the Bone, Now We Know Why,” and “New studies add fuel to concerns over BPA.” Some reprinted the press release verbatim.

But there was a catch. As Entine writes, the “…study, when analyzed, does not support that view. Rather, it provides additional confirmation of the unlikelihood that BPA or many other so-called “endocrine disrupting” chemicals pose serious health threats.” The catch is in the words “when analyzed.” Since the NGOs and activist journalists were predisposed to believe BPA was bad—despite more than a dozen reviews of BPA by independent government scientists since 2007 that concluded the current uses of the chemical are safe—it appears they did not examine the study, instead going solely with the misleading press release.

With the study’s erroneous rise to prominence as his starting point, Entine goes on to provide a broad commentary on the chemophobia-driven, crusade against BPA. He even provides clear information on how BPA is processed and disposed of by the human body. The article is a compact education about BPA and the anti-BPA crusade. Sadly, it’s wasted on those who need it most.

There is little reason to think the NGOs, labs, websites and others

with vested interests in advocating against BPA will read, let alone accept, the facts Jon Entine presents. Besides being prisoners of their ingrained beliefs, their continuing livelihoods require not accepting such facts. Evidence of that is apparent in the reader comments on Entine’s article. Many commenters make it clear by what they write that they are true believers, largely ignoring or denying the facts. To his credit, Entine patiently—for the most part—responds specifically to each comment. It’s an enlightening dialog with the chemiphobic and plastiphobic.

If you want to better understand the continuing anti-BPA activism, and like your information factual and brilliantly presented, Entine’s article and his responses to the comments are well worth your time. The information here just scratches the surface.