Friday, November 18th, 2016

Recap of the Folly Beach Clean-up and Food Packaging Summit



SPI’s Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Packaging Materials Committee (FDCPMC) recently hosted its Fall 2016 Food Packaging Summit in Charleston, SC.

The event kicked off with an effort to give back to our host city, in keeping with SPI’s zero waste mission, by clearing waste from nearby Folly Beach.  Twenty-five of our energetic volunteers combed the shore for two hours and removed more than five bags of trash.

The Folly Beach Clean-up was sponsored by the following companies:

  1. Milliken: TheRoger Milliken Center, the global headquarters, is located in Spartanburg, S.C. and has fourteen additional manufacturing facilities across this state. “Milliken & Company is committed to doing good in our community and surrounding areas. As a South Carolina based company, we are honored to support the Folly Beach clean-up and the people that call South Carolina home. We will do everything we can to help,” said Sean Norton, marketing communications manager at Milliken.
  2. Sealed Air: The company has operations in several cities in South Carolina including Duncan, Seneca and Simpsonville. “Programs and partnerships such as this are instrumental in our employees’ mission to create a better way for life in each and every industry and community where we operate,” said Sealed Air’s spokesman, Ken Aurichio.
  3. PolyQuest: The company’s Distribution and Recycling Facility is located in Darlington, SC. “At PolyQuest, we believe in being environmentally responsible. We are very much in favor of initiatives that work toward getting plastics in the proper waste stream, especially a recycle stream,” said Monica Filyaw, director of Quality, Safety, and Regulatory Affairs.



Next, the FDCPMC is gearing up for its 13th Biennial International Symposium on Worldwide Regulation of Food Packaging, which will be held June 13 – 16, 2017, in Baltimore, MD. Regulators, scientists and industry leaders from around the world will convene once again for three days of discussion about topics such as how to overcome regulatory obstacles to global marketing of food packaging products.




Monday, October 31st, 2016

I Made That: CH3’s Plastic Court

“I Made That” is a series that showcases the people at plastics companies whose work goes into the products that consumers encounter throughout their daily lives. If you are interested in featuring your company’s role in bringing a consumer product to market, please email

Playing basketball, tennis or any other sport on concrete is becoming less and less common these days, thanks to the plastics industry. One innovative company, CH3 makes a product called VersaCourt that’s begun to replace harder athletic surfaces with a softer plastic material.




CH3 provides the courts with a lifetime warranty, and they’re designed to go in right on top of an existing court. The VersaCourt is also easier to repair, easier to clean or replace and easier to play on. Since the material that goes into the tiles is softer than concrete, it creates a great deal less strain on players’ knees, ensuring that they can keep playing for much longer with less of a risk of injury. “Our outdoor tile has a little movement in it,” said Rodney Davenport of CH3. “So when you go to do a hard break and change direction, you get a little flex, and your joints don’t have to take all of what you would feel on concrete.”


To read the full version of this story, published in the SPI Fall 2016 Magazine, click here.




Monday, September 26th, 2016

SPI and ACC Pick Up Riverside Litter for Coastal Cleanup Day

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the American Chemistry Council (ACC), hosted a river clean up as part of the Ocean Conservancy‘s International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). The annual ICC is one of the largest volunteer events in the world where thousands of people volunteer their time to clean up the world’s coastlines and waterways.


A group of about 60 volunteers gathered at Anacostia Park in Washington, DC. The afternoon began with opening remarks from Steve Russell, vice president of ACC’s Plastics Department, and Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI (see images below).


The volunteers were put into groups to tackle different areas of the river, picking up trash and logging items they found along the river bank. It was a great opportunity for two DC-based organizations to give back to the local community.



Thank you to all of our volunteers, the National Capital Parks-East and the ICC!


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

How The USDA’s BioPreferred Program Is Helping Bioplastics Expand

Since 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred Program has focused on accelerating the development and expansion of markets for biobased products, including bioplastics. As part of SPI’s inaugural Bioplastics Week, we recently sat down with Kate Lewis, deputy program manager at USDA to learn more.


What is the BioPreferred Program? 

The BioPreferred Program is a USDA-led initiative whose goal is to increase the purchasing and use of biobased products, including bioplastics. The Program operates through two initiatives – a voluntary certification and labeling program and mandatory federal purchasing requirements for federal agencies and contractors.

Tell us more about the mandatory purchasing requirements. 

Under federal law, government agencies and contractors are required to purchase a certain percentage of biobased goods. To date, the USDA has identified 97 categories for which agencies and their contractors have mandatory purchasing requirements. Examples of product categories include carpet cleaners, lubricants, paints and construction materials. The USDA assigns each category a minimum biobased content level. To qualify for federal purchasing, products must meet or exceed the minimum level required for their product category.

What does it mean to be a qualified biobased product? 

A qualified biobased product signifies that the product qualifies for mandatory federal purchasing (FP). This means that the product meets or exceeds the minimum biobased content requirements for one or more product categories that have been identified by USDA. Manufacturers self-identify the product’s biobased content in order to participate in this initiative. Qualified products are denoted with the FP symbol in the BioPreferred catalog.

Product ‘qualification’ is different from ‘certification’, an initiative the program also offers.

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How does the Voluntary Product Certification and Labeling initiative work? 

The Voluntary Labeling Initiative is designed to provide useful information to consumers about the biobased content of products. Voluntary labeling is a seven-step process that involves multiple application filings and product testing. The first step is to submit an application to the USDA. Upon approval, companies can begin determining the biobased content of their product by sending samples to an independent third-party lab for testing. Labs administer an ASTM D6866 test, the standard analytical method for measuring the biobased content of a product or package. As long as test results indicate that the product meets or exceeds USDA’s biobased content levels, the product can be labeled as certified and be included in the mandatory federal purchasing catalog. Once a product is certified, the company may choose to display the USDA Certified Biobased Product label.

Symbolizing the sun, soil and aquatic environments, the label informs consumers about the product’s percent of certified biobased content. Labels with an FP symbol designate that the product also qualifies for Mandatory Federal Purchasing. As part of certification, companies also receive a set of brand guidelines to follow when displaying the label on literature, advertisements and/or product packaging.

What percentage of the biobased catalog is composed of bioplastics?

Products in categories that commonly include bioplastics make up approximately 15 percent of our total catalog. When looking at only certified products, the figure is closer to 25 percent.

What are some examples of products that use the USDA Certified Biobased Product label?

To date, USDA has certified more than 2,800 biobased products – a number of which are bioplastics. From disposable tableware to bioplastic baby toys to personal care and packaging products like laundry detergent, more biobased products are being certified each day. For a complete listing of certified products, visit and click on the catalog tab.

Which product category has the most biobased products?

In terms of the sheer number of certified products, the disposable tableware product category leads the way with 218 individually certified biobased products. These products include plates, cups, bowls, trays and other food service items.

Are there any trends you see in the biobased bioplastics industry?

One trend we are seeing is an overall change in the ingredients used to create bioplastics. Presently, most biobased bioplastics are sourced from plant-based raw materials like corn and sugar cane. However, research has indicated that in the coming years, more bioplastics will likely be sourced from non-food based sources like algae, municipal waste and even waste carbon dioxide. The development and adoption of these new feedstocks will create new markets and economic opportunities, in turn further increasing the usage of renewable resources and valorizing ‘waste’ products.

USDA Economic Impact LabelWhere do you see biobased bioplastics in 20 years?

According to an Economic Impact report commissioned by the BioPreferred program in 2015, the market for bioplastics is increasing by 20 to 30 percent annually. By 2036, biobased bioplastics will likely serve as a significant economic driver as more companies continue to shift production away from petroleum-based plastics in favor of more biobased options. In fact, studies have shown that simply replacing 20 percent of the current plastics produced in the U.S. with bioplastics would yield about 104,000 new jobs.

How do biobased bioplastics support agriculture?

A rapidly growing number of biobased bioplastics are being produced and developed using agricultural feedstocks. As technology develops further, the uses for feedstocks in the development of bioplastics will continue to expand. This growth in consumption will ensure that this commodity is kept in high demand- thereby supporting increased agricultural production of feedstocks across the board.

How are you working to improve interest in the biobased bioplastics industry?

By helping bioplastics companies across every step of the value chain participate in mandatory federal purchasing and voluntary labeling initiatives, we are building a strong and enduring marketplace for biobased goods.

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Summer Excursion: Members Tour EREMA, UMass Lowell and Learn About Recycling and Plastics Engineering

The plastics industry continues to find innovative ways to create products that are environmentally friendly without compromising the needs of consumers. In a world where recycling is a learned-behavior, along the way there has been urban legend that foam cups – popular in many an office and college party – are not recyclable. SPI recently held a tour of EREMA Plastic Recycling Systems in Ipswich, MA where members learned first-hand about how to turn foam materials into plastic pellets.


These foam chips are turned into plastic pellets.


Here are the plastic pellets being created.


“It seemed like a good opportunity to promote recycling of materials that aren’t typically recycled. If you use the right equipment, it can be done efficiently and you can make a good product,” said Mike Horrocks, CEO, EREMA North America, Inc.


Ing. Clemens Kitzberger, business development manager at EREMA Group GmbH, Austria and Mike Horrocks, CEO at EREMA North America, Inc.


After touring EREMA, members drove over to UMass Lowell, one of our nation’s only schools dedicated to plastics engineering. The school offers cutting-edge lab research opportunities and internship opportunities with some of the nation’s leading manufacturers and corporations.