Welcome to Dordan's blog

New Design for Thermoforming Package Design Case Study: Retail Clamshell

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Mar 24, 2015 8:11:00 AM

Hello my sustainable packaging friends!

Today I am going to take a detour from the normal sustainable packaging rhetoric and talk about a new package design case study from Dordan Manufacturing!

Some time ago I began marketing Dordan's Design for Thermoforming Process; that is, how Dordan's experience dictated thermoform designs incorporate the process of thermoforming into the packaging developmental process. This was motivated largely because we continue to receive drawings from "design firms" of packaging concepts that are not able to be manufactured; they are just pretty pictures. At Dordan, we reverse engineer the product in order to allow for the custom thermoform fit, while including everything from the customer supplied artwork or graphics card to the retailer's presentation requirements. The result is a 100% engineered to spec packaging rendering that is ideal for thermoforming, fulfilling, and distributing. And, because our design software is fully integrated into all functions, there are no translation issues between the thermoform part design and the associated CNC-machined tooling. The integration between design and machining softwares saves time and allows for more intelligent quality control. Likewise, the same team of engineers that designs your thermoform part develops your prototype and production tooling, allowing for the seamless transition from packaging concept to thermoform part reality.

ANYWAY, that is a lot to convey with the fancy marketing phrase, Dordan's Design for Thermoforming Process. Consequently, we are developing case studies that communicate this approach to package design and thermoforming from a customer-centric perspective. We find that stories are sometimes the most powerful educational tools; as such, we have taken some of our customers' stories on how they achieved a complete thermoform packaging solution with Dordan's Design for Thermoforming Process and created case studies available for download.

The first case study is available below and describes how Dordan was able to transition one of it's customers' product lines from blister to clamshell retail packaging, while maintaining the brand aesthetic, reducing SKUs, and meeting the different retailer presentaiton requirements.


Download our new Design for Thermoforming Case Study: Retail Clamshell.


Above: photorealistic rendering of retail clamshell

SUST PACK 2015: Sustainable Packaging

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Mar 11, 2015 3:44:00 PM

Hey guys!

SUST PACK is a conference that I attended a couple years ago that has been a joint production between Packaging Digest and Smithers PIRA International. This year, for the first time, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition is joining in on the production fun, adding some more muscle to this already dynamic duo. Having withdrawn from the SPC two years ago, I am super excited to be reunited with the many friendly faces of the sustainable packaging working group.

I presented at SUST PACK on recycling PET thermoform packaging, shocker. It is pretty cool that not only am I attending the event as a contributing reporter for Packaging Digest, but that I also get to update the attendees on the state of clamshell recycling; that is, that PET thermoforms like the clamshells Dordan manufacturers are recyclable and recycled post consumer. Wahoo!

Request interview @SUSTPACK

Here is a list of some of the confirmed attendees.


There are over 400 registered guests of the conference, so it should make for a sustainable packaging party.

The conference kicks off the first day with two tours: one, at an anaerobic digestor; the other, at Tampa's Waste Management facility.

Anaerobic digestors are facilities that essentially turn food waste into fertilizer. That's a cool hash tag, #foodwastetofertilizer. Anyway, think of the belly of a cow and you have the basics of anaerobic digestion. Waste management facilities are, as the name would imply, where a county's waste gets "managed"; either via landfill or recycling. If you haven't been to a waste management facility I would strongly encourage you to attend as it is somewhat of an eye opener into the complexities of waste management and the systems required to allow a material to be recyclable.

The next morning begins with a workshop on "compostables" i.e. packaging that is certified to biodegrade in an "industrial composting facility," and followed by a workshop on how to design foodservice packaging for "recovery."

Running simaltaneously to these workshops is another track, starting with a workshop on innovations in forest certification and followed by a session on "sustainable materials management."

The day concludes with an opening reception and an award ceremony.

On Wednesday, April Fool's Day, there better be some radical pranks. The day starts with a yoga session at 6:30 AM, which I hope isn't a prank. The conference keynote is to follow, given by the Executive Director of the SPC.

After that is a presentation on how companies can "walk the talk of sustainability." In other words, how companies can actually address issues that matter most to their organizations in the context of sustainability, as opposed to just talking about them.

Next is a session on how sustainability is integrated into company analysis for stakeholders and potential investors. Questions answered in this session include:

  • Why are Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues important when evaluating a company?
  • What drives investor scrutiny beyond the annual report?
  • The connection between ESG issues and evaluating a company's resilience, strategic vision, and its ability to innovate
  • Evaluating investments through a broader lens: ESG- related risk mitigation, cost savings, opportunity creation, productivity gains, and employee retention.
  • Criteria to consider a company a sustainable investment
  • What drives companies to integrate sustainability? Investor pressure? Market pressure? Competition? Innovation?
  • Key areas companies struggle with

Next up is a presentation on how to "embed sustainability into the enterprise: from strategy to innovation"; yikes!

From there the conference moves onto another topic, "accelerating consumer interest" [in sustainability.]

These presentations include one on how consumers really feel about sustainable packaging and one on global trends in consumer sustainability.

The afternoon has three different tracks: one on bioplastics; another on marine debris; the other on "innovations across the supply chain."

Day three starts with yoga, awesome, and follows a similar structure as day two.

First, a panel on "innovative packaging flash talks" and then a presentation from Replenish.

Next, a presentation on biodegradable packaging re: a solution to plastic marine debris.

Then, a story about how Veritiv closed the loop with its waste and found byproduct synergies i.e. actualizing the axiom that one man's trash is another man's treasure. A presentation on making biodegradable plastics from methane gas (sounds awesome); and, a presentation on Dow's stand-up PE pouch.

Then, we shift gears and hear different ideas on how to "run a thread of business champions through an organization to challenge the status quo."

Before the separate tracks kick off, we hear a presentation from Walmart re: sustainable packaging.

Here are the tracks for day three: the "state of the composting industry as it relates to sustainable packaging;" and, "strategic views around recyclability and recovery."

The last two sessions include case studies on how companies implemented the How2Recycling label on their packaging followed by how to drive value from the "circular economy."

The end! Look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

Click to register for SUSTPACK


Reporting LIVE from Sust Pack 2015 in Orlando

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Mar 2, 2015 7:35:00 AM


Guess what?!

My dreams of being an actress are finally coming true! I get to pretend to be a reporter/journalist at SPC's/Packaging Digest's/PIRA International's Sust Pack Conference in Orlando, March 30-April 2nd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You know how I was asked to be a contributing writer to Packaging Digest by Senior Editor Lisa Pierce? Well, I am now going to be a contributing VJ and social media extraordinaire for the conference as well.
I get to video interview the speakers, conduct Q&A interviews before sessions, and write editorials post-conference. RADICAL.

I attended Sust Pack several years ago to present on my research on clamshell recycling. I am pumped to return to this event with the news that clamshells are actually now being recycled. And see old friends, as Dordan withdrew from the Sustainable Packaging Coalition about two years ago, but was very active while being a member.

So this is hilarious. Here I am being interviewed by Lisa at Sust Pack in 2012. I was so nervous!!!!!

Attending the event and have something to say? Click here to be considered for a video interview.

TONIGHT: Woodstock Manufacturers Roundtable

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Feb 24, 2015 8:16:00 AM


Calling all Woodstock-based manufacturers!

Tonight, the Mayor and City Council cordially invites you to the FIRST Manufacturers Roundtable of 2015 at Charter Dura-Bar, Inc. for a brief tour and discussion on workforce development with representatives from D-200, MCC, IMEC and the McHenry County Workforce Network.


4:00 PM, Arrive

4:14 PM, Welcome

4:30-5:15, Plant Tour

5:30-6:00 Workforce panel discussion followed by networking

RSVP to Cort Carlson,

With the mess at the West Coast port basically shutting down the import of international goods, never have I been so glad to be an American, and Woodstockian, manufacturer!

Look forward to seeing you there in your manufacturing wear!


Above: Dordan's Manufacturing Facility, Woodstock, IL

Topics: Manufacturing

Contributing writer to Packaging Digest Magazine

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Jan 29, 2015 12:02:00 PM


The good news just keeps coming! First of all, thanks to everyone for such a warm reception to the Plastics in Packaging Magazine cover story. My mom took the photo and it was a total blast; she applied powder when I got shinny and pumped my hair when it went flat-- I felt like a little kid again playing dress up.

Second of all, drum roll please (though I assume the title of this post kind of gives it away), BUT I have been asked by the FABULOUS Lisa Pierce, Executive Editor of Packaging Digest Magazine, to be a contributing writer to the publication!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I get to come up with my own story ideas and PD will have exclusive rights to the article. I just think that is so cool. This is the first time a non-plastics publication has asked me to write for it. Not that I don't absolutely love my plastics peeps, but it is exciting to get the opportunity to speak to a different audience.

Look out for my first article soon, ish, though I am still waiting for some leads to make the magic happen.



America's Next Top Model: which model for recycling PET thermoformed containers proves best in class?

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Jan 27, 2015 8:39:00 AM

Well this is hilarious. Here she be, in all her glory, the cover of the February issue of Plastics in Packaging Magazine!


My new Report, Recyclable vs. Recycled, discusses how not only are plastic PET thermoformed containers collected for recycling in America, but how they are actually recycled.

Click here for the story.

Download NEW clamshell recycling Report

Dordan awarded cover story of Plastics in Packaging Magazine!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Jan 20, 2015 9:54:00 AM



Dordan Awarded Cover Story of Plastics in Packaging Magazine

Plastics in Packaging is a UK-based publication that focuses on news, trends, and innovations in the plastics industry.

Woodstock, IL-- February 2015--Dordan Manufacturing awarded cover story of February issue of Plastics in Packaging Magazine for it's new report, "Recyclable vs. Recycled." This Report is the final of a three part series on recycling clamshells that began in 2010 with the publication of "The Truth about Blister/Clamshell Recycling in America with suggestions for the industry(C)"; followed by "The State of Postconsumer PET Thermoform Recycling: Past, Present and Future" in 2013.

Author Chandler Slavin started researching clamshell recycling when she joined the family firm Dordan Manufacturing in 2009 and discovered that the type of packaging Dordan produces is not recyclable insofar as the majority of American communities do not collect it for recycling. This research was catalyzed when Slavin was invited to serve as the co-lead of Walmart Canada's PET Subcommittee, a working group of PET stakeholders looking to increase PET container recycling, after Walmart Canada's Director of Sustainable Packaging discovered her blog where she narrated the day-by-day attempts to understand recycling in America. This work culminated with the release of the 2010 Report, which described why clamshells were not recycled and what the industry could do to overcome the barriers to clamshell recycling.

In 2013 Slavin's Report described the timeline of industry-initiated events that resulted in the majority of American communities adding the collection of PET thermoformed containers to its recycling programs. This Report signaled great strides in clamshell recycling.

Her latest Report, "Recyclable vs. Recycled," describes how not only are clamshells collected for recycling, but how they are actually being recycled. Asked by the Editor of Plastics in Packaging Magazine, which Slavin sits on the Editorial Board of, to write an update on PET thermoform container recycling, Slavin utilized a new report prepared by the SPI/NAPCOR as the foundation for her analysis. 

Slavin explains, "the collaboration among PET players, specifically NAPCOR, APR, SPI, and their constituents, demonstrates the power of industry to create real change. I am so honored to have been able to participate in the dialogue surrounding clamshell recycling and believe our journey to recycling can serve as inspiration to those trying to elevate the end of life management of their respective product or package. To add a new material to the recycling infrastructure, it takes honest dialogue, collaboration with manufacturers, municipalities/counties, recyclers, and end markets; consumer outreach and education; investment in collection, sortation, and reprocessing processes; and, hard work. It also takes the determination not be complacent with the status quo."

On receiving the cover story to Plastics in Packaging Magazine, Slavin exclaims, "I couldn't be more thrilled; just wait until you see the headline, it is kind of hilarious."

Look out for the digital edition of the Report repleased via Plastics in Packaging January 22nd; and, the print Magazine, out Feb. 1st.


Above: RPET clamshell manufactured from postconsumer clamshells

"Recyclable" vs. Recycled, how PC PET thermoforms are actually being recycled

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Jan 9, 2015 10:04:00 AM

Hello my sustainable packaging friends!

Writing you from the polar vortex that is Chicago. Hope you are staying toasty wherever you are.

Soooooo as I alluded to in my "Results are in! How did the PET thermoform recycling pilot go?!" post, I was asked by UK-based Plastics in Packaging Magazine to write an article about the state of post consumer PET thermoform recycling. As you know, my 2010 Report (cover feature of Green Manufacturer Magazine) described why plastic clamshells were not recycled, my 2013 Report (cover feature of PIP Magazine) described how the industry collaborated to add PET thermoformed containers to the country's collection for recycling programs, THIS report describes how clamshells are actually being recycled.

My clamshell recycling initiative that began in 2009 (dang, I am getting old) had the goal of removing the barriers to PET thermoform recycling so I could sleep easy at night, knowing that the pride and joy of my family's manufacturing company is recyclable. In order to say a package is recyclable, the FTC Green Guides explain, it must be "collected for recycling in the majority i.e. 60% of American communities." Hence my 2013 Report, which explained what the industry did to make clamshells accepted for recycling in over 60% of communities in America. But the job wasn't done. Shortly after sending a "hurray, clamshell packaging is recyclable!" eblast to everyone I ever knew ever, I heard back from one of my friends who works in recycling at the municipal level; he explained that while it is a great accomplishment for the plastics industry that clamshells are now collected for recycling, it doesn't mean that they will actually be recycled. In order for a material collected for recycling to actually be recycled, someone has to buy it and convert it into a second-generation material or product. Because of the existing demand for post consumer PET bottle bales, those campaigning for recycling PET thermoforms had to demonstrate to reclaimers that they could be sorted from other contaminants so as to not compromise the value of the bottle bales. Just how PET thermoforms would be sorted from other "look-a-likes" remained to be established.

And enter my new report, "Postconsumer PET Thermoformed Containers: Recyclable vs. Recycled" wherein I discuss how 3 different county's/recyclers actually collected, sorted, and sold postconsumer PET thermoforms. Some pretty incredible stuff.

I have pinky promised the publisher at Plastics in Packaging Magazine that I wouldn't publish my Report to my blog until the digital edition is released, January 22nd. The Magazine edition goes to print February 1st, after which, versions of the Report will be featured in a variety of domestic plastics periodicals. I am so excited that I get to tell this truly remarkable story of how a material can go from largely landfilled to collected for recycling to actually recycled in America in less than 5 years through industry proactivity and collaboration. I hope that the story inspires other manufacturers to work together and with recyclers and municipalities to remove the barriers to their products' recyclability.

And here is a dorky picture of me proudly displaying post consumer RPET thermoforms containers manufactured at Dordan.

Stay tuned for the Report, coming to you Jan. 22nd.


I heart RPET clamshells!

Happy Holidays from the Dordan family!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Dec 22, 2014 11:15:00 AM


By now I am sure your eyes have glazed over and you are looking at kitten memes on the internet to pass the time until the HOLIDAY. Nonetheless, I wanted to get my Holiday cheer in before everyone breaks for family and fun. To celebrate the Holiday Dordan had its customary Holiday Party complete with a Recycled Plastic tree, company bake off, and white elephant gift exchange. Good times. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

And here is Lou Reeds singing "Blue Chrismas" with Laurie Anderson, Rufus Wainwright & Friends!


Above: Dordan's up-cycled tree made from plastic scrap, old file folders, plastic tubes, and more!


My personal favorite baked good submission: chocolate treats molded from Dordan's own thermoformed parts!


The chocolate molder HIMSELF sporting his fabulous white elephant gift


And to top off an adorable blog post, my niece and I, who happens to also be the daughter of Dordan's Quality Control Technitian!


Dordan joins Sustainable Manufacturer's Network Advisory Board

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Dec 22, 2014 9:41:00 AM


Rockford, IL—December 2014—Dordan Manufacturing joins the Sustainable Manufacturer Network Advisory Board. The SMN Board, comprised of manufacturing and sustainability professionals, is a working group devoted to implementing the vision of the SMN; that is, to be the principal resource for advancement of cost-effective and environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing.

Dordan’s Sustainability Coordinator, Chandler Slavin, first became acquainted with the SMN in 2010 following the publication of her cover feature in Green Manufacturer Magazine, “Thermoformer Chases Chasing Arrows for Clamshell Packaging.” Later awarded the Sustainability and Innovation in Business Award from the Northern Illinois Renewable Energy Summit, Slavin was reacquainted with the SMN and inspired by its vision. Consequently, she applied to the Board in November 2014 and was happy to be accepted by this impressive group of processing and environmental enthusiasts.

As marketing manager, Chandler oversees the maintenance of Dordan’s brand as a quality and service-oriented domestic manufacturer of custom plastic packaging; as sustainability coordinator, she is responsible for creating, implementing, and monitoring internal and external sustainability initiatives. Dordan’s most notable external sustainability efforts includes its clamshell recycling initiative in which the company worked with plastics and recycling stakeholders to remove the barriers to postconsumer PET thermoform recycling.

Within five years, plastic PET thermoformed containers went from being landfilled to collected for recycling in the majority of American communities. In 2013, the amount of PET thermoforms collected for recycling increased 25 percent from 2012, demonstrating the power of industry and new markets.

Dordan offers comparative packaging lifecycle assessments and design for sustainability services, allowing its clients to develop more sustainable packaging. It conducts biobased/biodegradable/compostable plastics R&D, which allows its clients to understand the pros and cons of the various “green” plastics available in the market. Dordan also is working toward zero waste to landfill and looks forward to continuing to divert its post-industrial material from landfill.

Chandler is feeling optimistic about packaging’s future and references Walmart’s introduction of the Packaging Scorecard in 2008, which allowed packaging to become a mechanism for bringing sustainability to the consumer products industries. “For the first time in history, packaging was being assessed not only on cost and performance, but on its impact on the environment,” she says.

“Consequently, the packaging industry mobilized to develop innovative approaches to material science, manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, and end-of-life management. As a result, the discourse on sustainability has been pushed up and down the supply chain, concerning everything from material sourcing for the retail product itself to the way product is packed on a skid to allow for freight optimization.”

She believes that sustainability in packaging is here to stay, and with innovative and solution-oriented thinking, married with strategic collaboration up and down the supply chain, it is only a matter of time until the economics support the vision.

About Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Celebrating 50 years thermoforming with ISO 9001:2008 certification, Dordan is an engineering based designer and manufacturer of custom thermoformed plastic packaging solutions, like plastic clamshells, blisters, trays and components. Based 50 miles northwest of Chicago in Woodstock, IL, Dordan is a family owned and operated domestic manufacturer of quality thermoformed parts. Follow us @DordanMfg and learn more at


Above: Dordan's Slavin

Subscribe here

Latest Posts