Friday, October 14th, 2016

Manufacturing Day 2016: SPI Staff Reflections

After wrapping up yet another successful Manufacturing (MFG) Day, several SPI staff members who attended MFG Day events at plastics facilities across the nation shared their experience about what made this year’s events so special and the incredible things plastics companies had on tap for their events.

Kendra Martin, Senior Director, Industry Affairs – Brand Owners

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I took my children – ages 11 and 13 – with me to spend Manufacturing Day 2016 at The Rodon Group in Hatfield, PA. Rodon hosted nearly 50 students from local tech schools, high schools and colleges. We began the visit with a presentation and several videos about the future of manufacturing and the variety of career opportunities it offers. We then took a tour of the factory (ours led by K’NEX creator Joel Glickman!), which gave us a chance to see the design, tooling and manufacturing processes in action, and watched Baxter, a collaborative manufacturing robot from Rethink Robotics, at work.

For the kids (and me), the most fun part of the day was seeing all the very cool robotics throughout the factory, such as machines making the K’NEX construction pieces and a bunch of amazing models and portraits made out of the interlocking toys. Oh, and seeing the pictures of when President Obama visited the plant in 2012. One of the Presidential helicopters landed in the open field next to Rodon’s facility!

David Palmer, Director, Industry Affairs – Equipment Council

For those of us who celebrated Manufacturing Day at Wittmann Battenfeld in Torrington, Connecticut, we were treated to three days of spectacular events, including the company’s Open House & Innovations Workshop and SPI’s Northeast Regional Plant Tour and Dinner.

More than 100 students from nearby Oliver Wolcott High School visited Wittmann Battenfeld on MFG Day and employees rolled out the maroon carpet for their guests. We were privileged to tour their facilities and sit in on various presentations and demonstrations of the company’s injection molding machines and auxiliary equipment: dryers, blenders and granulators.

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For me, there were two memorable moments of the day. One was seeing the presentations by SPE’s PlastiVan program. Margie Weiner’s experiments were pure infotainment. One student who was so dazzled by a particular experiment involving polymers yelled out, “What?Is that magic?” Students learned a lot about the science of plasticsand the possibilities of doing pretty cool stuff in a plastics career. The other memorable moment was seeing Ronnie the BroBot moving about the building interacting with visitors. Amazing! That robot was so lifelike.

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Katie Masterson, Senior Program Manager, Industry Affairs – Equipment Council

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My day started off at Parkinson Technologies where I shadowed an “Introduction to Engineering” high school class. There were about 15 students in that tour, but Parkinson had over 50 students from local high schools tour their facility for MFG Day. Congressman David Cicilline also came and toured their facility. By the end of the tour, students could distinguish between different types of plastics machinery used for different types of plastics materials. They also had a better idea of the various types of jobs offered at a manufacturing facility.

 

 

I then made my way to Yushin America which opened their facility to their community and scheduled tours for every 15 minutes based on demand. They had about 140 people attend their event. I waslucky enough to shadow a tour with local high school students. This school attended previous Yushin MFG Days events and continues to bring their students on an annual basis because they understand the value of MFG Day. Yushin did a great job explaining the workforce shortage and all the various job opportunities at Yushin, and the required training and education. They noted that they’re always looking for employees who have interest, drive and ability.

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Rachel Cervarich, Digital Marketing Specialist

Attending Wittmann Battenfeld’s MFG Day event was enlightening. Being new to the plastics industry, I had never been to a manufacturing facility before. Seeing a facility where equipment is made definitely created a thirst for knowledge about manufacturing. I’d love to see a processing facility next and learn how the machines I saw being built go on to create plastic products.

The students who toured the facility had similar reactions. Many of them commented on the cleanliness of the facility and the advanced technology of the machines. Every student I spoke to said they hadn’t imagined a career in plastics before MFG Day and now could picture themselves in plastics. They realized that you may start on the floor, but you can work your way to sales and even management positions. It was fantastic to hear such positive, impressed reactions from students.

 

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Friday, September 30th, 2016

New Research: Flexible Film Packaging Can be Recycled

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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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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.

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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).

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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.

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

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Friday, September 23rd, 2016

The FLiP Files: Jennifer Cioffi

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 FLiP member Jennifer Cioffi of Jarden Home Brands.

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-Where do you work and what’s your title? I’m the product compliance manager for Jarden Home Brands, a subsidiary of Newell Brands.

-Tell us a little about what your company does.

Newell Brands is a global consumer goods company with a portfolio of well-known brands, including Paper Mate®, Sha​rpie®, Coleman®, Oster®, Sunbeam®, Graco®, Calphalon®, Rubbermaid®, Goody® and Yankee Candle® to name a few!

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

When I graduated college, I was offered an opportunity to work in business development for a global consulting firm. My first exposure to plastics was working with companies that were seeking regulatory support in complying with global plastics regulations. I immediately knew that my passion was in ensuring that companies manufactured safe and compliant products.

-Has anyone in the industry mentored you? Absolutely—I’ve been fortunate to learn from a number of individuals in the additives and plastics industries. The best part has been learning about the history of plastics and how technology and the manufacturing of plastics have progressed over the last 50 years.

-Describe in one sentence what you do on an average day. A typical day for me consists of conducting regulatory evaluations of our products and developing compliance strategies, test protocols and certifications to ensure that our products meet all applicable regulatory requirements.

-What do you like most about working in the plastics industry? Definitely the innovation! Plastics are used in everything from food packaging to surgical devices. The versatility of plastics is something that amazes me and keeps me passionate about working in the industry.

-What’s one thing about your personal life that you feel has been changed by having a career in plastics? Plastics has become a common conversation topic in my household! Whether we’re taking about migration, safe-use, or recyclability, I enjoy educating family and friends about plastics.

-What are the major challenges you think are facing the plastics industry today? How do you think the industry can overcome them? One of the biggest challenges has to be mitigating the negative public perception of plastics. Many times a random blog post will go up which causes consumers to panic about the safety of plastics. The industry can overcome these challenges by continuing to educate consumers and by working with agencies to support the development of industry and consumer education.

-Why do you think someone from your generation should consider a career in plastics? Plastics are here for the long haul! When it comes to plastics, you’re always learning! There are so many career paths in plastics, whether it be in compliance, manufacturing, medical applications or active/intelligent packaging, the opportunities are endless!

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

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

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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

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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

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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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