Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

The FLiP Files: Ghislaine (Gigi) Bailey, Ph.D.

gigibaileyThe FLiP Files is a blog series spotlighting young professionals that are active in SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), a group for plastics professionals under the age of 40.  For our next FLiP File, we spoke to Ghislaine (Gigi) Bailey, Ph.D., Senior Specialist, Product Regulations at NOVA Chemicals Corporation

-Where do you work and what’s your title?

I work at NOVA Chemicals as a member of our product integrity regulatory compliance team.

-Tell us a little about what your company does.

NOVA Chemicals is a multibillion-dollar company that produces plastics and chemicals, including resins for food packaging, automotive applications, caps and closures and many other everyday items.

-How did you find yourself working in the plastics industry?

It was a chance encounter at a party. I am an organic chemist and studied polymers for my doctoral thesis. When my husband and I moved to Calgary in Alberta, Canada I knew virtually no one but met someone at a party who introduced me to NOVA Chemicals. I’ve had roles in R&D, product development and new business development, all of which led to my current role in product integrity.

-Has anyone in the industry mentored you?

I have been very fortunate to have some key people help and mentor me, both unofficially and officially. Their advice and guidance has helped me to understand the industry and how NOVA Chemicals, the business, is run, which in turn has impacted how I approached my career at NOVA Chemicals.

-Describe in one sentence what you do on an average day.

On a typical day I work on a broad range of tasks: respond to customer regulatory requests, track imports, monitor and respond to developing global regulations and provide our R&D teams with regulatory support for the latest technology or products they have developed.

-What do you like most about working in the plastics industry?

That it is both flexible and multi-layered.

What’s one thing about your personal life that you feel has been changed by having a career in plastics?

I have a much greater appreciation for the broad and varied uses of plastics, and how integral they are to our quality of life.

-What are the major challenges you think are facing the plastics industry today? How do you think the industry can overcome them?

I am fortunate to live in a very “green” city, which means that I am often educating those around me on the value of plastics. The ramifications of abandoning plastics have generally not been carefully thought out, nor have the alternatives, which are not necessarily “greener.” The plastics industry needs to educate the general population on how environmentally friendly plastics can be and stress responsible end-of-life disposal. We hear a lot of news about the negatives of plastics and not enough about the positive impacts that plastics have on our lives, such as food preservation, food transportation, promoting good hygiene, etc. The plastics industry needs to highlight all the great and positive aspects of plastics.

-Why do you think someone from your generation should consider a career in plastics?

A career in plastics is an excellent choice. I would take that even further and encourage people to consider a career in regulatory compliance for the plastics industry. Without regulatory approval, plastic products cannot be sold. Given the speed at which governments are adopting and updating laws pertaining to transportation, manufacture, importation, exportation, food contact, etc., regulatory expertise within plastics companies is essential. In addition, there is always something new to learn, and just like the products we cover, this career is extremely flexible. It is satisfying to know that we are doing our part to keep plastics safe and contributing to an improved quality of life for those around us.

-What’s one plastic product you couldn’t live without?

Plastic wrap and freezer bags. With two young kids, I don’t know how I would function without them.

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

The FLiP Files: Adrienne Remener

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The FLiP Files is a blog series spotlighting young professionals that are active in SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), a group for plastics professionals under the age of 40.  For our next FLiP File, we spoke to Adrienne Remener, Database Specialist, at SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.

-Where do you work and what’s your title?

I work at SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) as the database specialist.

-Tell us a little about what your company does.

SPI is the industry’s trade association, so we do all kinds of things here – everything from advocacy, regulation and education to running large trade shows, like NPE.

-How did you find yourself working in the plastics industry?

It was totally by chance. I studied architectural engineering in college, and while applying for jobs in the field I started working as a temporary employee at SPI on database cleanup. While working here through a staffing agency, I had taken (and passed!) the fundamentals of engineering exam, which is a precursor to working toward becoming a licensed professional engineer – but I enjoyed SPI and the plastics industry so much that I accepted a full-time position here instead of continuing to pursue structural engineering work. I have certainly changed my career focus a bit from what I had previously expected to do, but it is undoubtedly a worthwhile experience for me.

-Describe in one sentence what you do on an average day.

I work with SPI’s database. On any given day I’m writing SQL queries, helping set up event registrations, providing staff training on new system features, acting as liaison for any software integrations, or cleaning and managing data.

-What do you like most about working in the plastics industry?

I find plastics innovations and development so fascinating; working in the industry, attending events and networking with other industry members is a great way to keep abreast with what’s happening.

What’s one thing about your personal life that you feel has been changed by having a career in plastics?

My recycling habits have definitely improved! I generally have always been conscious of my carbon footprint, but since working in the plastics industry and learning about the recyclability of different materials, particularly flexible film and bags, I have a whole new recycling routine at home.

-What are the major challenges you think are facing the plastics industry today? How do you think the industry can overcome them?

I think the biggest challenge the plastics industry is faced with is misinformation. Proactive education is the best way to overcome this; including transparency on business practices and raising awareness on not only the recyclability of plastics but how to recycle certain types of materials.

-Why do you think someone from your generation should consider a career in plastics?

I think more young people should seriously consider studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs in school. Doing so opens a world of opportunities in many industries – including plastics, of course. Technology has come so far in recent years and I don’t think what has been developed up to this point is anywhere near the summit of our potential with plastics. I’m excited to see what the upcoming generation will create!

-What’s one plastic product you couldn’t live without?

To me, the most important plastic products are my glasses and contact lenses – I would be lost without them!

Friday, September 30th, 2016

New Research: Flexible Film Packaging Can be Recycled

 

production of blue household  garbage plastic bags

Flexible plastic packaging- resealable bags, pouches and other items- is becoming increasingly popular. This type of packaging protects more products and often does so with a lower environmental footprint than other packaging options. However, these materials have raised questions in materials recovery facilities (MRFs) about how they can be recycled after the end of their useful life. Luckily, a new report shows that, with the right sorting techniques, it’s very possible for single-stream MRFs to find new value in these increasingly common materials.

 

strawberry

Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) launched its initial research findings of the “Flexible Packaging Sortation at Materials Recovery Facilities” on behalf of Materials Recovery for the Future (MRFF) earlier this month. The project showed that automated sorting technologies in use today can be optimized to capture flexible plastic packaging—potentially creating a new stream of recovered materials while improving the quality of other recycling streams.

 

 

sorting

RRS, in collaboration with brand owners and other trade associations on the project, including SPI: The Plastics Industry Association, conducted research trials that included baseline testing, equipment testing and other MRF sorting technologies like screens and optical scanners. This is only the first phase, however; future research will focus on further refinements to sorting technology, economic feasibility, assessing end-use markets for the material and developing a recovery facility demonstration project.

 

A few key findings:bag-chips

  • 88% of the flexible material by weight flowed with the fiber streams (defined as old newspaper (ONP) and mixed paper), making it feasible to capture the majority of the material.
  • Optical sorters correctly sorted 43% of seeded flexible plastic packaging by weight.
  • Once calibrated properly, optical sorting technologies were able to successfully separate over 90% (by weight) of the seeded flexible plastic packaging from fiber.

 

 

To access the full report, click here.

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Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Operation Clean Sweep Celebrates 25 Years

25th_anniversary_logoOperation Clean Sweep (OCS) is a voluntary stewardship program for facilities that handle plastic materials. Administered jointly by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), OCS is designed to help facilities implement procedures to keep plastic materials out of our waterways and eliminate plastic pellet, flake and powder loss.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Clean Sweep. Today OCS is being implemented in 23 countries around the world, by companies in 34 states in the U.S. Through the tireless efforts of OCS’ supporters and partners, the plastics industry has made significant strides towards zero plastic pellet, flake and powder loss. OCS is an ever-changing program, but the goal of eliminating pellet, flake and powder loss has not changed. Here’s a look back at some important milestones in OCS history.

 

1980s

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Center for Marine Conservation (now known as the Ocean Conservancy) conducted studies that detected plastic pellets in U.S. waterways from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

 

1986

hopper

SPI began working towards a solution to contain plastic pellet loss, creating educational programs for the U.S. plastics industry. Additionally, SPI’s Resin Pellet Task Force was established to educate the plastics industry and consumers about the negative consequences of plastic pellets in the marine environment.

 

 

1991

Operation Clean Sweep was created by SPI. Companies throughout the plastics industry signed the pledge to work toward zero plastic pellet loss.

 

2004

acc

ACC partnered with SPI and created the OCS website, which offered an online manual, and other tools, to assist companies with implementing their own OCS program to reduce pellet loss.

 

2011

SPI released OCS as a royalty-free license for international plastic organizations, enabling organizations like the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA), the Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico (ANIPAC) and others to promote OCS to their own members and encouraging companies to implement the OCS guidelines at facilities all over the world.

 

2014

ocs

OCS created a new supporter category allowing companies who do not directly manufacture or handle plastic materials to publically support the mission of OCS. Supporters of OCS pledge to encourage other companies, associations and coalitions to participate in OCS and educate customers, suppliers and member companies about the program.

 

 

 

 

 

2015

Two new categories of plastics materials, plastic flakes and powder, joined plastic pellets in the OCS mission statement. The addition of these two types of material widened the scope of OCS, expanding beyond one specific aspect of the plastic life cycle to welcome recyclers and other companies that regularly handle plastic materials.

 

2016

OCS 2.0 was launched. Now, OCS counts facilities rather than companies to give a more accurate representation of the industry.

 

2016 and Beyond  

Although OCS has made a positive impact on the plastics industry and the global marine environment, the program continues to expand through its growing number of global partnerships. No matter where your facility is located, OCS offers all plastics-handling companies an extensive manual of best management practices to implement, free of charge. If your company has not signed the pledge to join and participate in OCS, there has never been a better time to do so. Together, we can eventually achieve Operation Clean Sweep’s goal of zero pellet, flake, and powder loss.

 

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Friday, September 9th, 2016

Tips for Hosting Your Own MFG Day Event

Michael Stark, SPI FLiP Chairman

Michael Stark, SPI FLiP Chairman

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association is once again sponsoring this year’s Manufacturing Day (MFG Day) on October 7 and is encouraging every company in the plastics industry to open their doors and host an event. This year, we’re following our own advice and hosting our first-ever Plastics Education & Career Fair. We’ll be promoting MFG Day participation through October. Here are some tips from Wittmann-Battenfeld’s Michael Stark, chairman of SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP), for how to make the most of an event at your company.

 

 

Tips for Hosting Your Own MFG Day Event from SPI-FLiP Chairman Michael Stark

 Wittmann-Battenfeld

  • Make it interactive. If your plan is to host elementary/middle school children, make sure you have some fun activities related to your company for them to participate in. Focus on the “cool” things that you do. If able, offer giveaways.
  • Highlight the soft and hard skills the plastics industry seeks. If you are hosting high school students, broaden your scope of what you are talking about. Offer up information on all disciplines within your company such as accounting, marketing, sales, engineering, operations, etc. If college bound, the majority of these students may not realize that the degree they want to go to school for can be used in manufacturing. Most will assume it’s just a trade job on the floor, operating machinery. This is your chance to break that misconception.new-1
  • Engage in one-on-one conversations. For college level or trade school students, make sure you allow one-on-one time with your employees, and also focus on the different disciplines at your company. The students that are interested will want to learn more than you can offer in a short tour. You will want to be able to take advantage of this.
  • Work with local schools to promote your event. If you only want to invite schools, call local guidance counselors early and schedule the time. Plan to contact at least 2-3 times the number of schools you are willing to host on your list, as many will not break free for a field trip, or will be otherwise unavailable.

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  • Promote, promote, promote. If you are inviting the public, the local newspaper is one of the best ways to get the word out. If you are willing to spend some money, then radio ads also work well. Most parents still read the newspaper and will catch the ad on the radio, and encourage their kids to go. Also, most newspapers include a posting of the ad on their webpage as part of the package.
  • Consider hosting on the weekends. If the general public is your main focus, then consider doing your event on a Saturday (you can still register it as an official Manufacturing Day event on the MFG Day website – www.mfgday.com). Consider doing it in the morning to avoid schedule conflicts with sporting events and other weekend activities that happen on weekdays.
  • Make flyers. Create a flyer to distribute to schools and the local newspaper. Make it flashy with one of the best photos of your company, the most attractive statistics you have about your company, and the opportunities your company and the industry has to offer.
  • Have fun! Lastly, don’t be afraid. Your first event will be a learning experience for you to find out what works and what doesn’t. After your first year, the event will become easier.tree