Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Product Sustainability Program Gains Momentum Throughout World

By Michael Taylor, SPI Senior Director International Affairs & Trade

Sustainability has received a great deal of attention from the public, media and the business community for a number of years. Yet, there are still those that believe that sustainability is more of a public relations ploy than an issue with real implications for business performance and resiliency.

For the business community, sustainability goes well beyond mere window-dressing. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can improve their competitive position, increase their market share, and boost shareholder value. Oftentimes business sustainability is defined as a process whereby companies manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities. A shortened form of the impacts referred to here consists of profits, people and planet.

This accounting-based approach, however, does not take into full consideration the time element that is inherent within business sustainability. With time taken into consideration, a more appropriate definition of business sustainability is resiliency over time, thus those businesses that can survive shocks do so because they are connected to healthy economic, social and environmental systems.

There are a number of best practices that advance business sustainability and permit companies to establish themselves as leaders in this space.  These practices include stakeholder engagement, environmental management systems, reporting and disclosure, and life-cycle analysis.

Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) is an international product stewardship program designed to prevent resin pellet loss and help keep pellets out of the marine environment. The OCS program is administered by SPI:  The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division.

In the OCS program, every segment of the plastics industry has a role to play – including resin producers, transporters, bulk terminal operators and plastics processors – by implementing good housekeeping and pellet containment practices.

The goal: achieving zero pellet loss.

Zero Pellet Loss is a priority for the plastics industry—and a critical issue for the environment. Spilled pellets can make their way into local waterways and ultimately estuaries and the ocean. This isn’t just an eyesore and a litter issue; pellets, if accidentally mistaken for food by birds or marine animals, could harm them. That’s why the industry is behind Zero Pellet Loss—and it can only be achieved by everyone working together. The OCS Program was created to help businesses that handle pellets protect the environment and keep it clean.

OCS is not simply promoted at the company/facility level in the U.S. alone.  The program is also promoted by plastics industry associations around the world.  When a foreign association becomes an international partner, they promote OCS to their member companies and within their own country.  At this time, there are 14 country associations and one multi-country association signed on as international partners to promote the program.  The map below shows those parts of the globe that are already a part of ongoing OCS promotion and those that are considering joining the promotion effort

You can see just how much of the world’s coastlines are engaged currently, and just how much more we need to get on board.

Most recently, there was a surge in membership in the Americas with several associations joining along with the significant addition of PlasticsEurope.  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) are now set to promote the OCS program in their respective countries.  Of course, Europe has been a traditional leader in promoting the global environment and sustainability.  It is very good, however, to see the Latin and South American region showing leadership in these globally important areas too.

If you could take a simple step to help strengthen your company’s:

  • sustainability initiatives;
  • contribution to preserving water quality and wildlife;
  • compliance with federal and state regulations and avoidance of fines;
  • safety/housekeeping program;
  • employees’ well-being;
  • operational efficiency;
  • financial bottom line; and
  • reputation in the community…

…would you take it?

OCS as a product stewardship program is truly a no-brainer.  It is a proven program that is doing something positive about protecting the global environment.  As a best practice from a business sustainability perspective, it is equally a no-brainer. Business growth and environmental conservation can go hand in hand and there are tangible economic benefits derived from growing sustainably. For example, companies that are more sustainable are also more innovative and adaptive to their business environments which means more competitive.

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Canadian Plastics Industry Association Joins SPI’s Efforts to Recycle

By Kim Coghill, SPI Director, Communications

The Recycling Committee of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association said today the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) joined SPI’s effort to purse zero waste by participating in, a recycling marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of scrap plastic materials and recycling services.

Carol Hochu

Carol Hochu

“The Canadian plastics industry is committed to continuing to increase plastics recycling across the country, and developing technologies and new markets for the recycled plastic,” said Carol Hochu, president and CEO of CPIA. “Through our relationships with associations like SPI and, we are efficiently and effectively promoting and protecting plastics globally. CPIA will encourage Canadian plastics manufacturers and recyclers to join us in supporting and utilizing this tool.”

Kim Holmes, SPI’s director of recycling and diversion, said, “Canada’s interest in connecting to demonstrates the success and market for the service we are providing. helps bridge the supply and demand for recycled plastics and services, bringing value for both SPI members and the broader plastics industry.

“We look forward to expanding the database to include our Canadian partners in the industry, and to expanding the geographical scope of sourcing and selling recycled plastics in North America,” Holmes said. “This marketplace is just one area in which the plastics industry is working diligently to develop new recovery opportunities for plastics, which are too valuable to waste.”

Launched in June 2013, is a tool accessible to association members and non-members. Firms may self-register for a free basic listing or they may purchase an enhanced listing that enables them to provide more information and self-promotion. All trade association proceeds generated through the enhanced listings and ad placements are being reinvested into the recycling industry to support SPI and CPIA recycling programs. features companies listed in categories such as Plastic Scrap Purchasers, Plastic Scrap Sellers, Post-Consumer Recycle Materials, Post-Industrial Recycle Materials, Recycling Equipment and Business Services/Logistics. Buyers, and those seeking recycle services, can search for suppliers via keyword search or by clicking on a category to find suppliers. also includes request for proposal (RFP) tools that enable buyers to reach out to selected suppliers based on search results, upload project specs and/or email a company RFP to selected vendors.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) is the national voice of the national voice for plastics in Canada. With over 2400 companies employing nearly 80,000 workers, Canada’s $20-billion plastics industry is a sophisticated, multi-faceted sector encompassing plastic products manufacturing, machinery, moulds, and resins. CPIA is dedicated to post-use resource recovery leadership by working collaboratively with stakeholders to divert plastics from landfill through greater recycling and energy recovery of plastics.

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.

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Brazil’s World Cup 2014 Squad Will Wear Recycled PET Bottles

Recycled PET bottles

        18 Recycled PET bottles

The 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa was the first time that the American sporting goods giant Nike outfitted all its national teams, ten of them at the time, in jerseys made of recycled PET plastic bottles. The company will do it again at World Cup 2014 (June 12-July 13) in Brazil, only this time the whole uniform will be recycled PET, including the socks.

A few days ago, Nike unveiled the uniform — “kit” as soccer uniforms are called — host country Brazil’s team will wear in World Cup 2014 matches when it’s the home side. The bright yellow jersey with green trim, blue shorts and white socks closely follow Brazil’s passionately held futebol traditions. However, the Nike design and technology used to make this kit are not traditional but are in full accord with  Nike’s Sustainable Business at Nike, Inc.

During World Cup 2010, Nike earned praise for having kept 18 million PET bottles out of landfills. It was not a one-off event. Since then Nike has diverted almost 2 billion bottles from landfills. The company describes its approach as a commitment to superior performance with lower environmental impact. Each kit is made from about 18 bottles. The socks are 78 percent recycled material, the shirt 96 percent and the shorts 100 percent, which is how Nike has made its soccer kits since 2010.

Five stars for Brazil's five World Cup wins.

Five stars for Brazil’s five World Cup wins.

As for technology, to optimize its designs Nike first did a full body scan of each player on the Brazilian national team, as well as other players. Regulating player body temperature in a match is a primary focus for Nike designers. The new kits combine Nike Dri-Fit technology, which wicks moisture away from the skin, plus “burnout” mesh and laser-cut ventilation holes that localize cooling where players most need it. The shorts are designed to reduce bruises players get on their hips and thighs when sliding to get the ball.

The Brazilian team’s manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari, likes the shirt. He says it looks great, though he did notice one thing missing. The chest emblem has five stars, the number of times Brazil has won the World Cup. He intends to have a sixth one after World Cup 2014.


Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

“America Recycles Day” Sets Internet Buzzing About Recycling

logo ARD white bkgrndSince it launched America Recycles Day in 1997, the Keep America Beautiful organization has made November 15 a focal point, the day the entire country is reminded to pay attention to recycling. Last Friday, 16 years later, ARD is focusing Americans’ attention on recycling more than ever by effectively using online communication tools that did not even exist in 1997.

The Twitter feed on the home page of was steadily posting messages all last week, especially last Friday. When I checked just now, four days later, tweets containing the hashtag #AmericaRecyclesDay were still arriving, and those 140-or-fewer-character messages are strongly in favor of recycling.

If you are not a Twitter user, be aware that there are about 50 million Americans active on that channel. The America Recycles Day messages were also circulating on social networks such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Facebook has about 200 million users. A short message about the value of recycling can reach thousands of people in a few minutes.

Why is this important? In a word, awareness. We live in an increasingly busy world, where it’s all too easy to lose track of something, even something as good as recycling. Fact is, most Americans do think recycling is a good thing. They also think they should be doing more of it than they do. That’s not just me speculating.

On America Recycles Day, the Plastics Make it Possible group released results of a new national survey showing that most Americans feel they’re not “doing enough for the environment.” Only 37 percent of Americans in the survey feel they are doing enough recycling.

Many survey respondents said they really don’t know how to do more. Only 46 percent are “knowledgeable about what it takes to be eco-friendly” in their daily lives. Roughly two out of three say they would like to learn some simple steps that help the planet.

The Plastics Make it Possible people are suggesting a very simple step: buy recycled. Great idea. Even though more than 90 percent of Americans say they recycle daily, and nearly all of us have access to recycling, looking for products made with recycled materials is much less common. Example: Only 28 percent of the Americans surveyed say they will look for holiday gifts made with recycled material this year.

Buying and using things made with recycled material is important. It closes the recycling loop by creating demand for recycled products, and that demand stimulates more recycling. The closed loop becomes a virtuous cycle.

The survey, which was carried out carried out by Kelton Research, tells us that even though many Americans are not sure how to be eco-friendly, most are taking steps to remedy that. Fully 78 percent say they have taken some action to learn more about which products their communities collect for recycling. For consumers, that’s a big step in the right direction.

Many steps to advance recycling also are underway within the plastics industry itself. SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, which represents all components of the plastics value chain, is promoting a group of initiatives focused on Zero Waste, such as: RecyclePlastics365, an online plastics recycling marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of scrap plastics and recycling services; Operation Clean Sweep, an international program for preventing resin pellet loss at production locations; resinGEAR, the industry’s own line of corporate, industrial and promotional apparel made from recycled plastics. The plastics industry is fully committed to recycling and other zero waste and sustainability efforts.