Friday, July 11th, 2014

Pursuing Zero Waste Drives SPI to Join National Effort to Increase Recycling

By Kim Holmes, SPI, Director, Recycling and Diversion

As part of its mission to pursue zero waste, SPI has joined other top organizations as an inaugural member of the Recycling Partnership, a grant fund established by the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) to support and transform public recycling performance.

Selected communities will use grant funding to:

  • purchase roll carts for curbside collection
  • provide technical assistance with program implementation and improvements
  • help advocate the economic value of the recycling industry to decision makers
  • create educational tools for residents

Working alongside the likes of the American Chemistry Council, Alcoa Foundation and Coca-Cola, SPI will serve on the Recycling Partnership’s Advisory Committee as a voting member. In this role, SPI will advocate for expansion of programs in communities that have the capability to maximize recovery of plastic products including rigids, thermoforms and other non-bottle packaging materials.

SPI has emerged as an important stakeholder in the recycling discussion offering a unique perspective as its members represent the entire plastics supply chain. Its highly-active Recycling Committee is working on programs that raise awareness about the demand for material, the recoverability of new feedstreams and the advancement of technologies that improve quality of material.trash cans

Since SPI’s members’ expertise is in processing, recycling and manufacturing rather than collection, the organization has not created unique programming in this area. However, identifying opportunities to influence collection in ways that support the work of SPI’s members is of high importance. Joining the Recycling Partnership presents the right opportunity to proactively cultivate collection programs in a way that reflects the industry’s goals in a tangible, measurable way.

The Recycling Partnership’s purpose and mission line up with SPI’s goals to support stronger plastics recycling partnerships across the country. By assessing the overall health of the recycling infrastructure, identifying the barriers to recycling, and building a to-do list around those barriers, the Recycling Partnership will create a new framework of public-private collaboration to improve the recycling infrastructure.

Overseen by CVP, in the first year at least three southeastern communities will receive one-time grants. Data and other information collected in the first round will serve as benchmarks to guide the partnership through its national expansion in the next two to five years. Projections show that work in 10 communities could result in a 1 billion pound increase of recovered recyclables.

Other members of the Recycling Partnership are the American Forest & Paper Association, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, Ball Corporation and Carton Council.

ABOUT THE CURBSIDE VALUE PARTNERSHIP

The Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) is a 501(c)(3) organization designed to grow participation in curbside recycling programs nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.recyclecurbside.org/.

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Doors Open Oct. 3 for Annual Manufacturing Day

By Mike Verespej, SPI Correspondent

Plastics manufacturers will showcase what they do and how their companies contribute to the U.S. economy on the third annual Manufacturing Day, Oct. 3.

“Manufacturers make a lot of stuff in the U.S,” said Michael Araten, president and CEO of K’NEX Brands and The Rodon Group, based in Hatfield, Pa. “With Manufacturing Day, (companies) will be able to showcase nationwide what we do so that people get the scale of what we are manufacturing here in the U.S. It is an opportunity for companies to open their facilities to the public and showcase 21st century manufacturing and whet their interests in choosing manufacturing for a career.”

The day—a grassroots effort designed to improve the public perception of manufacturing in America and help manufacturers attract the skilled workers they need for tomorrow—is expected to have well more than 1,200 companies participating—up from 800 last year and 200 in the 2011, according to Manufacturing Day 2014, a group of industry sponsors and co-sponsors.

“Everybody needs to support Manufacturing Day, and open their doors to show people the ingenuity and innovation in the plastics industry,” SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux said. “We need to connect with future generations and talk about the great careers that are available, whether you go to college or not.”

Araten agrees. “To have a successful image and attract new workers, we have to make people aware of what we make. We have to inspire the youth of today and convince them these are the jobs of tomorrow. This is an excellent way for manufacturers to tell them their story.”

Now in its third year, Manufacturing Day will have a new twist for 2014, with the documentary film, American Made Movie, focusing on products made in the U.S. The goal of the film: educate people coast to coast on how businesses in their own backyards support not only their local communities, but the nation’s economy with items made here in the U.S.A that are globally competitive.

In addition, Manufacturing Day gives companies “the opportunity to address common misperceptions about manufacturing,” said Charles A. Sholtis, CEO of Plastic Molding Technology Inc.

“By opening up shop floors around the country, we are able to show modern manufacturing for what it is—a sleek, safe, technology-driven industry that offers secure, good-paying jobs with benefits,” said Sholtis. “Opening up our plants for tours on Manufacturing Day draws greater attention to the outstanding opportunities that a career in manufacturing can provide.”

Rodon, for example, makes sure its tours, show people “things in their everyday life that we make here and all the things that are done behind-the-scenes to get it made,” said Araten. “People are impressed with cleanliness of our plant, how well lit it is, the scale at which we do things, all the high technology, and seeing robots work in practical application.”

Araten also says companies need to participate to help keep America strong.

“To have a truly independent country, you have to be able to make things,” he says. “If you do that, you control your own destiny. And manufacturing is getting more attention as one of things in the U.S. economy that is working.”

“Manufacturing Day helps the manufacturing community (showcase) the innovative industry it has come to be,” and its importance to the economy, adds Sholtis of PMT. “Plastics plays a major role in the manufacturing sector in the U.S., employing approximately 900,000 workers and producing more than $300 billion in shipments annually.”

In 2012, the manufacturing sector contributed $1.87 trillion to the economy or 11.9 percent of the gross domestic product. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, every dollar spend in manufacturing adds another $1.48 to the economy. Overall, manufacturing supports 17.4 million jobs in the U.S., with an average annual salary of more than $77,000 compared to the average salary of $60,168 for all industries.

This year, as in year’s past, SPI is a sponsor of Manufacturing Day. For more information, visit: www.mfgday.com or call 1-888-394-4362.

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Sholtis Credits Staff with ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ Award

By Mike Verespej, SPI Correspondent

You could fill a book with the long laundry list of accomplishments that led to injection-molding company Plastic Molding Technology Inc. being chosen in March as the 2014 small company Manufacturer of the Year by the Manufacturing Leadership Council. In its 10th year, Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council honors companies and individuals that are shaping the future of global manufacturing.

And while certainly proud of what the $10 million El Paso, Texas, company with 100 employees has accomplished, CEO Charles A. Sholtis is even prouder of what the award says about his workforce.

Charles Sholtis

Charles Sholtis

“The award speaks volumes about the caliber of our management team, the workforce we have, and what they’ve accomplished the last three years in streamlining processes, identifying areas for waste and cost reduction and finding ways to be more sustainable,” Sholtis said. “It says a lot about their ability to take on large projects as a team and make the company more profitable through operational excellence.”

Indeed, despite escalating raw material prices and the economic crash in late 2008, PMT achieved record revenue and earnings in fiscal years 2010 through 2013.

“You are only as good as your people. Without them, we wouldn’t be the success story we are,” said Sholtis. “These honors simply reinforce that the plastics industry is at the forefront of best practices in manufacturing.”

Here are just some of PMT’s achievements the last three years:

  • Savings of 1.8 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year, half of them from a grinder control system developed in-house that has reduced energy consumption on the company’s 40 plastics grinders by 95 percent or nearly 900,000 kWh annually.
  • Eighteen all-electric presses added since 2010—part of a $2.9 million investment in equipment and automation—have cut energy consumption by almost 400,000 kWh annually.
  • Plant-wide efficiency has improved to 96 percent, and on-time deliveries have risen to 98 percent.
  • Production scrap was reduced by more than 50 percent in the first year of a program to cut waste. The company also reduced its use of virgin resins by 380,000 pounds annually by blending in plastic regrind and using recycled resin.
  • A new mold storage system has saved an estimated 780 man-hours per year and sped up the mold setting process, and a new overhead crane system for mold handling has saved an estimated 250 man-hours annually.
  • A standalone mold service bench with a gantry crane on the production floor has reduced the time needed for routine cleanings, saving another 420 man-hours per year.

Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council in March honored 100 world-class manufacturing companies and individual leaders as winners of the 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Awards (ML Awards). According to the Council, recipients of the ML Awards have distinguished themselves by embracing breakthrough innovation and enabling their companies to anticipate and respond to customers with unmatched agility.

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Chinaplas 2014 Visit Opened Global Potential

By Michael Salmon, Public Affairs Manager

The modernization of China was the backdrop on a recent multi-pronged SPI trip to Chinaplas 2014, where SPI officials explored the possibilities of working with China in the recycling, production and machinery phases of the plastics industry. Representing SPI was Michael Taylor, senior director of international affairs and trade; Gene Sanders, SPI’s senior vice president of trade shows and conferences; Brad Williams, SPI’s trade show marketing and sales director; and Kim Holmes, SPI recycling and diversion director.

China’s renewed focus on new machinery and technology was apparent, and “their market is becoming more sophisticated,” noted Taylor.

The group toured two recycling facilities, including PARC Corporation in Qingdao and Wistron in Kunshan, and the opening ceremony for a new KraussMaffei factory in Haiyan. The recycling efforts at the Wistron factory were particularly noteworthy because the plant specialized in recycling plastics that was used in electronics, and the result was a compound that was 98 percent refined into pure resins, which is a higher percentage for the industry standard. “It was impressive,” Taylor said. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” added Holmes.

Holmes toured facilities with Kathy Xuan of PARC Corporation to explore the Chinese recycling efforts, particularly their developments with post-industrial scrap, PET and poly ethylene. One element of their recycling program that sparked an interest was the Chinese method to recycle PET and poly ethylene, which is not done on this level in the United States. In addition, they saw trucks packed with plastic film, and even motorcycles stacked with polystyrene, heading to recycling facilities. “With some materials, there are homes for in China that there aren’t homes for in the United States,” Holmes added.

Sanders and Williams conducted several meetings with Chinese associations to include; Chinese Plastics Machinery Industry Association, China Die & Mould Industry Association, Chinese Engineering Plastics Industry Association, Taizhou Plastics Industry Association, Shanghai Association of Die & Mould, China Scrap Plastic Association, Plastic Trade Association of Shanghai, to name a few.

As a result of those association meetings, Chinese exhibitors will have an exhibit space in NPE2015: The International Plastics Showcase in the Chinaplas booth. Numerous companies took advantage to include Harmo, CCPIT Chemical & Additives, Jiangsu Xinda, Borche’ Machinery, Ningbo Fangli, and more. On the recycling end, plans were unveiled at Chinaplas for the Zero Waste Zone in the South Hall of NPE2015

SPI member Kathy Xuan of PARC Corp., left, highlights China facility to SPI's Kim Holmes and Michael Taylor.

SPI member Kathy Xuan of PARC Corp., left, highlights China facility to SPI’s Kim Holmes and Michael Taylor.

, generating great interest from recycling companies and materials suppliers from China as well as other countries at the exhibition.

In September 2014, the China Plastics Machinery Industry Association is holding their inaugural trade show, and representatives from SPI are planning on attending. Coupled with the enthusiasm about SPI’s NPE 2015 trade show next spring, much was gained in China.  “It was successful on all the fronts,” said Taylor.

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Recycled Ocean Plastics Shape New Soap Bottle

By Michael Salmon, Public Affairs Manager

New soap bottle made partially from recycled ocean plastics.

New soap bottle made partially from recycled ocean plastics.

At SPI’s board meeting in Miami, Rudi Becker, from a San Francisco-based soap company called “Method” that recycles as well, highlighted a recent trip to Hawaii where he organized a series of beach cleanups on the north shore of Oahu. From the material collected on the beaches, Method and recycling partner, Envision Plastics produced a soap bottle that is a blend of recovered ocean plastic and post-consumer recycled plastic, with 10 percent coming from ocean plastics. It’s a monumental step in the efforts to raise awareness about the need to clean up the world’s oceans.

“The ocean plastics program has been particularly eye-opening,” Becker said.

Method is a smaller company in the grand scheme of home and healthcare products, but they have demonstrated strong leadership on environmental stewardship.  The Method ocean plastics soap bottle “is one way to raise awareness about the issue and use our business to demonstrate smart ways of using and reusing the plastics that are already on the planet,” their website states.  The soap bottle is available at Whole Foods Market®, methodhome.com, and many other retailers.  The Method story was a perfect addition to the content of the spring meeting, as their strategy is in line  with SPI’s zero waste strategy and support for raising awareness about the issue of plastics in the ocean.

SPI remains firmly committed to addressing the issue of sustainability and recycling with sound solutions, but has now taken the step to formalize this priority by including the pursuit of zero waste strategies in its newly approved mission statement. On the pre-consumer side, SPI’s Operation Clean Sweep program, designed to prevent resin pellet loss and help keep pellets out of the marine environment, continues to expand globally and is now being implemented in eight countries.

For others looking to make things from recycled plastic, SPI recently launched RecyclePlastics365.org, a web site that serves as a “Plastics Recycling Marketplace” that connects buyers and sellers of scrap plastics materials and recycling services.

“SPI is committed to increasing the recovery of scrap plastics, and applauds innovative solutions, such as recycling the ocean plastics used in Method’s soap bottle” said Kim Holmes, SPI’s recycling expert.