Monday, April 13th, 2015

Telling the Plastics Industry’s Story through…Food Packaging Compliance?

SPI’s Project Passport aims to make life easier for brand owners, plastics manufacturers and materials suppliers and is part of an open discussion about science, industry and consumer safety.

FoodPackaging_StockPhotoBrand owners are often correctly viewed as the conduit through which the consumer speaks to the rest of the plastics supply chain. The crazy, upside-down world in which they operate is a demanding one, where information is more available than ever before, and yet confusion continues to run rampant throughout the supply chain, starting with consumers, particularly when it comes to something as ubiquitous as the packaging in which their food is stored.

“The public is understandably confused by the conflicting messages they receive about product safety,” said Kyra Mumbauer, SPI senior director, global regulatory affairs, “and when people  get confused about the safety of the packaging their food comes in, they typically ask the brand owner, whose name is on the package itself, who then asks the manufacturer, who then asks the materials supplier before an answer is finally provided.”

Many of these requests for information go beyond what’s required from a regulatory standpoint, which only complicates the process for diligent materials suppliers and plastics manufacturers that are doing their best to assuage the concerns of their customers. “There may not be a common level of education about what is required from a regulatory standpoint,” Mumbauer said. “But if everyone that has to convey their compliance information has a baseline, then that will lead to a reduction in the number of redundant or unnecessary questions that get asked.”

For brand owners seeking information from their suppliers about the compliance of materials that went into their packaging products, the practical aspects of acquiring and sorting this information can be daunting. At the very least they’re an unnecessary time drain. “You can get 13 different letters from your suppliers that look totally different,” Mumbauer said. “It can be really time consuming and there’s no simple way to organize those documents.”

At least, there wasn’t until now.

2015-project-psspt-4cProject Passport, the latest resource from SPI’s Food, Drug and Cosmetic Packaging Materials Committee (FDCPMC) seeks to provide “a more consistent approach to communicating vital compliance information to customers and consumers in a way that’s clear, complete and easy on the eyes.” In its current form, Project Passport’s Guideline for Risk Communication for the Global Food Contact Supply Chain is comprised of three separate components, each of which offers packaging suppliers a key tool to help them communicate the safety of their products to companies and consumers further down the food packaging supply chain:

  • An Example “Food Contact Declaration of Compliance” Form – The form is generic by design so that it can be adapted to different products marketed in various jurisdictions.
  • Instructions – These basic explanations and sample customer assurance statements provide the context to help companies complete the form quickly and effectively.
  • Quick Guides – A series of topical guides is interspersed throughout the document on select topics to provide added clarity on the instructions.

These tools will make it easier for brand owners to make sense of what goes into their packaging products, while simultaneously making it easier for companies to sell their products globally by preemptively addressing the compliance concerns of their potential customers. “New regulatory affairs professionals marketing a product globally can look at this and see what they need to be conveying to their customers,” Mumbauer said, noting that Project Passport currently is designed to address the needs of U.S. and European Union regulatory authorities, and that while complying with these two jurisdictions typically qualifies a product for sale in most countries in the world, as participation increases, Project Passport will continue to expand as well. “By promoting wide adoption of this form and this guideline we’ll have a more consistent approach to communicating information,” she said.

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

NPE2015: A Quick Look Back on the Largest, Most International NPE in History

The SPI and NPE team wrapped up what was by any and all measures an outstanding NPE2015 last week. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights.

_F4C5169_webNPE2015: The International Plastics Showcase kicked off with the Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show, the result of many months of work by students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in collaboration with SPI. All of the featured garments were made using post-consumer recycled, reused or repurposed plastic products, and the final products were outstanding. Check the fashion show photo album on SPI’s Facebook, and read an interview with two of the participating SCAD students here on In the Hopper.

Many, many announcements were made on-site at NPE2015, particularly on Monday, the first day of the show. Among the largest of them was SPI’s announcement of its new annual recycling summit, the re│Focus Recycling Summit & Expo. The inaugural summit and expo will be held in April 2016 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. and invites the entire plastics supply chain to collaborate together to find future sustainability solutions and new markets in recycling. Learn more here.

SPI President and CEO William Carteaux at NPE2015 announcing ReFocus, SPI's first-ever annual recycling summit and expo, to be held in Orlando in April 2016.

SPI President and CEO William Carteaux at NPE2015 announcing ReFocus, SPI’s first-ever annual recycling summit and expo, to be held in Orlando in April 2016.

On Tuesday at the SPI/IHS Key Market Breakfast Briefing, the plastics industry got an invitation from Walmart Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing Cindi Marsiglio to help the world’s largest retailer fulfill its goal to source an additional $250 billion worth of products from the U.S. Marsiglio also invited attendees to consider attending Walmart’s next Open Call event, where manufacturers can work directly with Walmart buyers to pitch their products to the company and, ideally, get them into stores. Read more about Marsiglio’s presentation here.

One of the best attended receptions of the week was the FLiP N’Sip young professionals event, where hundreds of plastics professionals under 40 were able to relax after a day at NPE while networking with their colleagues and making the connections they need to continue their careers in plastic. Hosted by SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) and SPE’s Next Generation Advisory Board (NGAB), the event also served as the venue for a joint announcement from SPI and SPE about a new student membership option that makes it even easier for students and new plastics professionals to get involved with their trade association and set them on a path to plastics success right at the start of their careers.

Young plastics professionals at the FLiP N'Sip reception.

Young plastics professionals at the FLiP N’Sip reception.

SPI’s Bioplastics Division (BPD) also honored Eastman Kodak with this year’s Innovation in Bioplastics Award on Wednesday at NPE2015 in the BPD booth in the South Hall Lobby. Eastman Kodak won for its creation of a biotoner that contains greater than 90 percent biobased and biodegradable materials, which has the potential to have a major impact on the electro-photographic printing market. Learn more about the award here and stay tuned to SPI’s website and In the Hopper blog for more news and information on Eastman Kodak and their award-winning innovation.

A crowded view of the South Hall at NPE2015.

A crowded view of the South Hall at NPE2015.

All this and so much more from NPE2015! Stay tuned to SPI’s website and to In the Hopper for more NPE highlights (and photos) in the weeks and months to come, and scroll back through SPI and NPE’s Twitter accounts for more from what was one of the most socially-networked NPEs ever. And don’t forget to mark your calendar for the next NPE! Click here to sign up for updates, and we’ll see you in Orlando in 2018. SPI thanks every attendee, sponsor and supporter for making NPE2015 a true milestone!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Walmart Exec at NPE2015 Invites Plastics Industry to Work with Company to Help Meet $250-Billion U.S. Sourcing Goal

Walmart Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing Cindi Marsiglio discussed her company’s 2013 pledge to source an additional $250 billion in products from American manufacturers today at NPE2015, during the SPI and IHS Key Market Breakfast Briefing. Marsiglio noted that Walmart is working to accomplish its ambitious goal in three ways: 1) buying more from the suppliers Walmart already buys from in the U.S., 2) finding new products made in the U.S. to sell on Walmart shelves and 3) reshoring the manufacturing of goods Walmart currently buys by facilitating these efforts among its suppliers.

BillAndCindi_Walmart

SPI President and CEO William Carteaux and Walmart Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing Cindi Marsiglio at the SPI-IHS Key Market Breakfast Briefing, hosted at NPE2015.

“Reshoring, onshoring, right-shoring, whatever you want to call it,” Marsiglio said, Walmart is “working with our suppliers to devote some resources to assisting them, where it makes economic sense, to bring production to the U.S. from other locations across the globe,” she added.

Innovation in manufacturing, Marsiglio noted, will be key to the “economic sense” aspect of reshoring.  SPI has always supported reshoring and aims to support it in the plastics industry. Walmart is using its retail might to do the same, by supporting innovation, directly and indirectly, in order to make U.S. production more profitable. Hitting the $250 billion target, Marsiglio said, is “going to take some innovation and some changes in some of those core manufacturing processes. Some things have to be made differently to make it cost-effective here.”

To support this innovation, Marsiglio discussed a $10 million innovation fund Walmart created in partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors that continues to give out grants for companies working to make all sorts of manufacturing processes more efficient and cost effective. Some specific areas that are ripe for innovation include those that are “primarily focused on textiles—changes to cutting and sewing, weaving, dyeing, printing—small motor assembly, advancements in the assembly of small motors and many of those products, so think home appliances, floor care, hair dryers. We sell a lot of that type of product at Walmart. And the third piece was plastic injection molding and tooling or costs associated with that.”

In addition to supporting reshoring by working to spur innovation in the manufacturing industry, Marsiglio also noted that Walmart facilitates connections between potential suppliers of U.S.-made products and Walmart’s purchasing team through their Open Call series of conferences, the second of which will take place July 7-8 in Bentonville, Ark. At these meetings, manufacturers can work directly with Walmart buyers to pitch their products to the company and, ideally, get them into stores.

“If you’ve got finished products you want to come and pitch to us, we will welcome you. Please share that news with your networks of people as well as your companies that you’re representing today,” Marsiglio said. “We’ll continue to offer those state resources, finance resources, workforce development resources, all of those things Walmart can bring to the table to accelerate our suppliers doing the math to increase their manufacturing here in the U.S. so that we can meet our commitment to purchase more products and bring them to our customers in stores.”

Manufacturers interested in learning more about the Open Call event can find out more here: www.walmart-jump.com. NPE continues in Orlando, Fla.

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Putting Life Back Into Life—A Conversation with Two SCAD Design Students and Their Project Coordinator about the Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show

NPE2015 opened in style this morning with the Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show, which showcased garments designed by students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) made using only post-consumer recycled plastic materials. After the Fashion Show the garments were moved to the Zero Waste Zone in the South Hall, where they’ll stay for the remainder of NPE._F4C5072_web

SPI caught up with two of the students who participated in the project and attended the show, Adewunmi Adetayo and Siobhan Mulhern, and SCAD School of Design Resources and Projects Coordinator Tenley Gilstrap to talk about their work with SPI, what it was like working with recycled plastics, 3D printing and what they hope everyone gets out of seeing their designs.

SPI: How did this project get started and how did things work?

Tenley Gilstrap: SPI came to SCAD and they were interested in collaborating. Here at SCAD we have what we have the CLC, also known as the Collaborative Learning Center. The CLC is where we engage students with real world company experience.  Companies that we’ve partnered with include anyone from Coca-Cola, to HP to Gulfstream.

The companies sit down with SCAD and try to figure out what the deliverables could be that could actually come from a great partnership and then we try to structure an actual course around the goals and the outcomes and what we actually want to accomplish.

Siobhan Mulhern: They created what they called the zero waste design lab. They gathered 9 students—eight of us were senior design fashion students and one sculpture student. And they basically asked us to create a line of garments made out of post-consumer recycled plastics.

TG: The sculpture student is responsible for most of the jewelry in the show and also in the catalog that was created from the course. (more…)

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

NPE2015 Preview: Time to Shine for Startups

StartupGarageThe story of how NPE’s Startup Garage came into its current form sounds a lot like how any startup company hopes their story will go: it started off small and humble, but after people found out about it, it really took off and the rest is history.

Though it was originally envisioned as a smaller portion of the NPE2015 show floor, the NPE team had to expand the Startup Garage (twice) to keep up with industry demand. Now it’ll be an important fixture of the West Hall (in Room W203A) and, given its running start, potentially an even greater part of NPEs for years to come. Now, however, the Startup Garage will provide “an unprecedented opportunity for startup companies with connections to the plastics industry,” according to Gerald Elderling, founder of Startup.Directory, a new-venture tracking company with which SPI partnered to create the Startup Garage. “Participants will be meeting hundreds of potential buyers, investors, distributors and strategic partners, all in one location.”

Companies will highlight their innovations in such diverse, cutting-edge fields as bioplastics, recycling, 3D printing, polymerization, resin processing, antimicrobial polymers and even the burgeoning field of graphenes—defined as two-dimensional carbon-atom nanostructures that can be used for formulating plastics composites with dramatically enhanced properties.

Here’s some more detail on all the startups that will be exhibiting in the Startup Garage. Get a closer look at their innovative products by swinging by the West Hall during your trip to Orlando, Fla. for NPE2015:

  • Aguas Pristinas S.A. Patented zero-waste beverage container and packaging system, with products designed to be recovered for re-use in other forms. One example is roofing products derived from bottles.
  • Biobent Polymers. “Bio-composite” polymers with up to 40% renewable content from soy or other renewable agricultural products. www.biobent.com.
  • The Center for Regenerative Design & Collaboration (CRDC) – AGUA Costa Rica. AGUA-Costa Rica is a patented and “state-of-the-art” new zero waste beverage product that regenerates itself into a value-added secondary use as a highly-efficient and durable building tile.
  • cycleWood Solutions Inc. Compostable and sustainable resins produced from lignin in tree byproducts generated during papermaking. LDPE-like film grades are 100% compostable. Injection molding grades are available in either compostable or sustainable (blended with polyolefins) versions. www.cycleWood.com.
  • Garmor Inc. Graphene priced for high-volume plastics applications. The company also has developed methods for incorporating graphene into plastics and shares this information with customers.
    www.garmortech.com.
  • GlowLit. GlowLit’s free website provides an option for previously untapped information providers to receive market intelligence in return for their insight. Anyone can log in and check whether the last purchased they made saved (or cost) money to the shareholders. Not all companies use the same information, pounds and KGs, delivered price vs ex works, railroad order of 4,000 tons or spot orders of 20,000 lbs. We provide the data you are interested in, for your industry, location, and volumes. www.glowlit.com.
  • Graphenics. Engineering services and materials based on a patented process to produce graphene and incorporate it into plastic with minimal disruption of plastics processes and minimal darkening of the composite. www.plusgraphene.com.
  • iQLP LLC. Development of polymer materials and manufacturing processes for polymer suppliers, converters, and end users. Solutions highlighted at NPE2015 will include semiconductor packaging, film and laminate extrusion, and structural polymers. www.iqlp.net.
  • One Moving Part. Digital printers for all types of extrusions. As simple as “0-1-2″: ZERO maintenance, ONE moving part, and TWO–the typical cost of less than $2 per day. Offering a FREE 30-day in-plant trial.
  • Plastic EQ Corp. Web marketplace where companies post offers of and requests for recycled plastics online. The company integrates the full sales cycle, including paperwork, payment / collection, freight management, credit check, etc. www.plastic-eq.com.
  • Productfast Automation. Technology for monitoring a manufacturing operation that replaces the Andon light system with wireless audio and visual effects. www.productfast.com.
  • QTEK. QTEK will bring “Copper-based mineral additive” and “Copper-based antimicrobial plastic masterbatch pellets” to NPE2015. QTEK technology is unique by employing ionic copper as antimicrobial agent. NSF funded research has demonstrated the antimicrobial efficiency (against bacteria and fungi), processability, durability, and environmental safety of the plastic masterbatch pellets. The mineral additive also has fire-retarding activity. http://www.qtekllc.com.
  • Sharklet Technologies, Inc. The company’s core technology, called Sharklet™, is the first no-kill, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly surface texture designed to inhibit bacterial growth. The Sharklet surface is comprised of millions of microscopic diamonds that are arranged into a distinct texture. www.sharklet.com.
  • Smart E2 Solutions, LLC.  System for producing fuel products from non-recyclable plastics. About a gallon of fuel is produced from 8 to 10 lb. of un-washed, un-sorted waste plastic at a cost of less than $1. www.se2sol.com.
  • TiFiber Inc. Anti-microbial polymers that exhibit broad-spectrum activity against bacterial species, including drug-resistant strains such as MRSA. Among potential applications are medical devices and disposables, synthetic textiles, and consumer goods. www.tifiber.com.
  • Zzyzx Polymers. New “mechanochemical” process for compatabilizing, encapsulating, and fully dispersing materials into plastics, with a pilot plant established in Pennsylvania. To be highlighted at NPE2015: graphene conductive polypropylene; high-impact polyethylene; and a polycarbonate-like PP. www.zpolymers.com.