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Dordan Manufacturing receives Sustainability and Innovation in Business Award

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 9, 2014 3:49:00 PM

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Dordan Manufacturing Receives Sustainability and Innovation in Business Award from Northern Illinois Renewable Energy Summit

Rockford, IL, October 10th Dordan Manufacturing has been selected by Northern Illinois Renewable Energy Summit to receive the Sustainability and Innovation in Business award. Dordan will receive the award at the Renewable Energy Summit and Expo in Rockford, IL, on October 10th at 11:30 AM at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center.

This “Leadership by Example” award is meant to highlight area individuals, businesses, organizations, and Municipalities that have implemented sustainability practices in transportation, construction, manufacturing, waste-to-energy and recycling.

Since 2009, Dordan Manufacturing has developed sustainability tools and services to help our clients achieve more sustainable packaging solutions. These include: LCA-based comparative packaging assessments via COMPASS; bio-based/biodegradable/compostable R&D via Dordan’s Bio Resin Show N Tell; and, a 4-step Design for Sustainability Process.

In addition to its customer-centric sustainability services, Dordan has been an active player in working to incorporate thermoformed containers into the Nation’s curbside recycling infrastructure. As a result, plastic thermoforms are now recyclable in the majority of American communities. These recycling efforts were featured in Green Manufacturer Magazine's 2011 cover story, “Thermoformer Chases Chasing Arrows for Clamshell Packaging.”

Dordan’s Sustainability Coordinator was surprised at being awarded the “Leadership by Example” award from the NI Renewable Energy Summit, exclaiming, “But we didn’t even apply!” To which she was told that Dordan was nominated by municipal representatives and players in business and manufacturing in Illinois who have been following the company’s sustainability efforts.

About Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Dordan Manufacturing is an engineering-based designer and manufacture of custom thermoformed packaging solutions, like plastic clamshells, blisters, trays and components. Based 50 miles Northwest of Chicago in Woodstock IL, Dordan is a 50,000 square foot facility equipped with sophisticated software and machining technologies. Family owned and operated, Dordan has 50-years-experience designing and manufacturing thermoforms parts that perform. Dordan Manufacturing is ISO 9001:2008 certified for the design, manufacture, and distribution of thermoformed packaging.

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Above: Left (ME!), Right, Ida Mannertorp, Sustainability Coordinator @Multi Film Packaging Corporation

Dordan to display sustainable trapped blister packaging at Pack Expo

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 8, 2014 7:59:31 AM

Dordan Displays X Card at Pack Expo, Sustainable Trapped Blister Packaging for Retail

Pack Expo is produced by PMMI, which is a trade association with more than 560 members representing packaging material manufacturers, converters, machinery suppliers and service providers across the packaging supply chain.

Chicago—November 2, 2014—Dordan Manufacturing to display sustainable trapped blister packaging solution X Card at International Pack Expo, booth #8403. For the first time since it began exhibiting at Pack Expo in 1994, custom thermoforming company Dordan Manufacturing will be showcasing a sustainable union of paper and plastic aimed at the Big Box buyer desiring this type of retail packaging.

Following introductions to VP of Business Development Todd Brandel at Aurora, IL-based Excel Displays and Packaging this summer, Dordan’s Sustainability Coordinator Chandler Slavin learned about X Card; which, unlike many trapped blister packs, uses cohesive sealing technology that reduces the energy required to seal the package when compared with traditional, heat sealed trapped blister packs.

While cohesive sealing is not a new technology, Excel has innovated the process by which the boards are coated. Normally, the process of cohesive sealing is an offline process, meaning it is done as a separate operation to die cutting. Excel, however, coats the cards inline using a pre-determined pattern; this allows for total control over what parts of the board are coated with adhesive and consequently, total control over the seal. The result is material savings and complete recyclability of both the thermoformed blister and paperboard component at end of life.

Excel’s Brandel explains, “Our X Cards are superior to their heat-sealed counterparts because both the thermoformed blister and SPF certified paper can be easily separated and recycled because there is no adhesive contaminating the thermoform. This is not often the case for heat sealed trapped blisters.”

On Dordan’s motivation for showcasing this technology at Pack Expo, Slavin explains, “We understand that different customers have different needs; some buyers truly appreciate the ease of fulfillment and shelf impact of trapped blister packaging. As such, we want to be able to offer this type of retail packaging solution. However, it wasn’t until I understood Excel’s cohesive sealing technology that allows for total recyclability of both the paper and plastic packaging component that I thought this was a solution worth endorsing, as end of life management of packaging is a top concern for Dordan and our clients.”

Located in the Lakeside Upper Hall, booth #8403, Dordan looks forward to showcasing Xcel’s sustainable trapped blister packaging solution.

About Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Dordan Manufacturing is an engineering-based designer and manufacture of custom thermoformed packaging solutions, like plastic clamshells, blisters, trays and components. Based 50 miles Northwest of Chicago in Woodstock IL, Dordan is a 50,000 square foot facility equipped with sophisticated software and machining technologies. Family owned and operated, Dordan has 50-years-experience designing and manufacturing thermoforms parts that perform. Dordan Manufacturing is ISO 9001:2008 certified for the design, manufacture, and distribution of thermoformed packaging. Learn more at Dordan.com.

About Excel Displays and Packaging

Established in 1989, Excel Displays & Packaging is a privately owned designer and manufacturer of temporary point-of-purchase displays, high-graphic retail packaging, in-store signage, and industrial packaging (a.k.a., "brown boxes"). Its main converting facility and home office is located in Aurora, Illinois, and it operates a Sales & Design Center out of Bentonville, Arkansas. The company also has an ownership interest in two corrugators near South Bend, Indiana. www.xlpop.com

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Above: X Card

Visiting Chicago for International Pack Expo?! Check out these Chicago events!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 2, 2014 1:48:00 PM

Hello!

Happy October!

Plans to attend Pack Expo in Chicago in November!? If so, make sure you plan time for some of these awesome Chicago events:

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David Bowie Is at the Museum of Contemporary Art: The first retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie—one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 400 objects, most from the David Bowie Archive—including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades—are brought together for the first time. Only showing in United States at the MCA in Chicago, September to January.

Patty Smith at Chicago Humanities Festival: This year’s Chicago Tribune Literary Award pays tribute to rock legend Patti Smith. At the heart of New York’s downtown scene with the likes of Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, and Allen Ginsberg, Smith enchanted the avant-garde. Spend an unforgettable hour at Symphony Center November 1st with this American icon.

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Magrite, "The Mystery of the Ordinary" at The Chicago Art Institute:

20th century Belgian artist Rene Magrittee worked to make "everyday objects shriek aloud" or make the familiar infamiliar. See his most influencial pieces in November at this impressive exhibition.

Next blog post to include list of favorite Chicago eateries!

And of course, don't forget to visit Dordan at Pack Expo.

Happy Chicagoing!

Innovations in trapped blister packs for retail

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 26, 2014 8:50:00 AM

In my last post I allude to this “trapped blister” packaging for retail, which, as the name implies, consists of a thermoformed blister sandwiched between a paperboard based “frame.” For years CPG companies have looked to trapped blister packs as a replacement for large clamshell packs at Big Box Retail, citing consumer frustration, sustainability, and cost savings as the driving motivations. Wrap rage and concerns about sustainability aside, these packs are often times cheaper than their clamshell counterparts, while maintaining similar shelf impact.

While the sustainability of these trapped blisters vs. clamshell packages remains to be third-party verified, many have claimed that simply the reduction in plastic renders the paper-based packs environmentally superior. Paper good, plastic bad, right? Recent research points to the exact opposite, however. In addition, many have noted that the plastic thermoform and paper-based portion of the trapped blister are not recyclable when separated at the MRF, due to the adhesive that exists on both substrates following the sealing process. Combined with the fact that PET thermoforms (clamshells) are now accepted for recycling in the majority of American communities, there are some compelling counter arguments to the “paper is good, plastic is bad” rhetoric.

So color me surprised when I stumbled upon Excel’s X Card, a trapped blister retail solution that does not require heat sealing; hence, leaves no adhesive contaminants, rendering both the plastic and paper component recyclable. Hurray for innovation!

While apparently this sealing technology—cohesive sealing, cold sealing, pressure sealing, etc.—has been around for a minute, I just learned the details while interviewing Todd Brandel, VP of Business Development, at Excel Displays and Packaging. He has been championing this retail packaging solution for the past two years, articulating its benefits from both an environmental, and cost savings standpoint. I was fortunate enough to have him answer a few of my questions about his X Card:

Me: Hey Todd, can you give me a little background on trapped blisters for retail and heat-sealing technology?

Todd: “Trapped blisters” is a subset of high visibility packaging; that is, any package where you can see the product through the window, be it via die cut window, transparent clamshell, or trapped blister pack. Blister cards and heat-sealing for retail have been around forever. Then club stores came along, with these huge trapped blister billboards. The reason they were so big is so you couldn’t stick the merchandise in your pocket and walk out of the store. Hence it eliminated the need for sales reps and security and saved retailers money. All these blisters and trapped blisters were done via heat sealing. The problem was, however, that heat sealing was a slow and frustrating process. Corrugate is a natural insulator so it takes a while to drive the heat through the board to activate the adhesive. So it was a love/hate relationship: CPGs and retailers loved it, but those creating the package—often times the co-packers—grew frustrated with the process.

And then came along some smart people that said, “there has to be a better way to do this!”

Me: And that’s where Excel comes in??? Tell me about how X Card solves this frustration.

Todd: Our X Card uses cohesive sealing, which means we use a cohesive glue to coat the board that only sticks to itself; think of Velcro—cohesive sealing is the same idea. While cohesive sealing, like heat-sealing, has been around for a bit, only Excel has innovated the process by which the boards are coated. In other words, most people in the industry using cohesive sealing use an offline process, meaning it is done as a separate operation from die-cutting. They use a flood coat of adhesive, and coat the entire card with glue. If you have seen this, it looks a lot like snot, a heavy coating of latex-based adhesive. What we do at Excel is coat the cards inline using a pre-determined pattern, depending on the requirements of the seal and package. Instead of coating the entire card with glue, we only coat the parts that will create the seal, saving material (glue), and also presenting a clean look behind the product.

Me: So you sell inline coated cards to those sealing the card to the thermoform, like the co-packers you mentioned; and, this makes their jobs easier, saving time and money they can then pass on to their retail partners?

Todd: That’s correct! And, our cards can be sealed on existing heat-sealing machines. It’s a win-win.

Me: And sustainability wise, these packs are superior to their heat-sealed counterparts because both the thermoformed blister and paper card can be easily separate and recycled. There is no adhesive contaminating the thermoform. And, you can use high concentration of post consumer recycled content in the thermoform and your board is already SFI certified?

Todd: You nailed it!

Me: Awesome, thanks for your help!

 

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Above: X Card trapped blister solution for retail

Changes to CA's Rigid Plastic Packaging Container Program

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 12, 2014 8:17:00 AM

Hello and happy Friday my sustainable packaging friends!

Today I am going to pick up where I left off re: California's Rigid Plastic Packaging Container program (hereafter, RPPC). Please see my August 25th post, "California's Rigid Plastic Packaging Container Program, is it working?" for context on this legislation.

Below is an overview of CA RPPC program as per Victor Bell's (President of Environmental Packaging International) presentation at the Annual AVPM meeting last year during Pack Expo in Las Vegas. Dordan is attending Pack Expo in McCormick Place this year, so feel free to stop by to continue the conversation. Click here to register for FREE with Dordan's comp code

As of January 1, 2013, regulatory changes to the CA RPPC program were made effective, expanding the types of containers now liable; hence, all the recent hoopla. 

Enacted in 1991, the RPPC law intended to reduce the amount of plastic waste disposed of in California and increase the use of recycled, post-consumer plastic in packaging. The law applies to manufacturers/producers/generators of products sold in regulated RPPC's.

As originally defined, an RPPC meant:

  • A relatively inflexible container
  • Made entirely of plastic
  • With a capacity of 8 ounces or more, up to 5 gallons
  • Capable of multiple re closers (this one is a biggie)

All subject RPPC's were required to be made with at least 25% post consumer plastic OR meet one of the other statutory compliance options (there are a bunch).

To clear up confusion, changes to the program were made that provide guidance on:

  • Number of closures
  • Hinges and handles
  • Foldable/tube containers
  • Long-life packaging

For some reason, plastic bags are always exempt; and, containers without lids (like buckets), since they are not capable of closure.

What is now liable, fortunately or unfortunately, are trapped blisters. You know, those fancy paper-based billboards with a "trapped" thermoform blister in the middle that you often see at Costco or Sam's Club? "Trapped" means that the plastic blister is literally trapped (via flange or other design elements) within the paper-based component, be it by sealing or design technologies. Pretty much every competitor of Dordan has developed some type of trapped blister for retail solution with a printing or thermoforming partner, the idea being that you reduce the amount of plastic needed when converting from clamshell to a largely paper-based package; "paper based" can be anything from thin-flute corrugate to SBS board and everything in between. If you mill it, they will come.

Who knows why these trapped blisters are now liable under CA RPPC as they are made largely of printed and laminated paper and contaminated plastic (think glue, adhesives); both of which, a real heel to recycle.

But moving on, and this is where it gets better, now packages capable of at least one closure are liable. Originally, only those RPPC's capable of multiple closures were subject. That means those that would be closed and re-closed with an attached or unattached relatively inflexible lid. Now, any package that is designed to close, including during manufacture and fulfillment processes, will be subject to regulation. You show me a container that isn't designed to close and I will show you a Chicago Indian summer (it's 56 degrees downtown right now).

For example, previously, caulking tubes sold with a lid were regulated while those without were not; now, both are subject.

The updated regulations include factors for identifying responsibility, like:

  • Ownership of the brand name
  • Primary control over product design
  • Primary control over container design

Product manufacturers who are found to use RPPCs are notified of the registration requirements in writing. The product manufacturer must register by submitting contact information within 90 calendar days of receiving a notice. The penalty for late or non-registration range from $1,000-$50,000, depending on time frame.

Each year, a portion of product manufacturers who registered are notified that they have been selected for precertification. These manufacturers have one year's notice that they may be select to certify compliance.

A small number of product manufacturers who received precertification notices will be randomly selected to submit a compliance certification.

To comply, the RPPC must meet one of the following options:

  • 25% post-consumer material content
    • Corporate averaging
  • Source reduction
    • Reduced by 10% by one of four methods: container weight or product concentration or both or comparison to a similar product
    • Corporate averaging
  • Reuse
    • Reused by end of life at least 5 times
  • Refill
    • Replenished by product manufacturer at least 5 times
  • 45% recycling rate
    • If it's a brand-specific package used in conjunction with a particular generic product line or that holds a single type of generic product or is made of a single resin type
  • Floral industry
    • Reused for at least 2 years
  • Alternative container compliance
    • PCM (at least 25%) was used in the manufacturing RPPCs subject or not subject to the law
    • CA-generated post consumer material used in other products or packaging to be credited toward the PCM-content option (I don't know what this means).

While the presentation from which I take this information was delivered in 2013, there was only violation data from 2005:

PETCO, container violation, $42,025.23

Office Max, container violation, $34,350.61

Sony Corporation, container violation, $50,000

In my August 25th I pose the question, "Is it working?" That is, is this legislation working to increase plastics recycling and post consumer recycled content in plastic packaging sold in California? How do the economics play out? Who is supposed to eat the price premium of post consumer plastic material? How can California keep the recycling and re-manufacturing plastics market within the confines to California when we live in a global market of production and consumption? How are California recyclers supposed to compete with Chinese buyers of plastic scrap? 

I emailed my friends at the California Board of Integrated Waste Management, who are responsible for drafting and enforcing this legislation, inquiring into the economics of the program. Unfortunately, I received no response and continue to remain dumbfounded at this program and how it is supposed to help plastics recycling. If you have any insight on these issues, please comment in the comment field below! 

To learn about the efforts of the plastics and recycling industries to incorporate PET thermoform containers into the existing recycling infrastructure, I encourage you to download my 2013 Recycling Report.
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Above: trapped blister package, now liable under CA RPPC

Death to composter: zero waste, bio plastics, and bees!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Aug 25, 2014 9:14:29 AM

Hello and happy Monday! Can we please just pause for a moment and recognize that we are now in the last week of August?! What the what?! Where has the summer gone!

Sooo some time ago I implemented a zero waste to landfill initiative at Dordan that looked to divert all of Dordan's waste from landfill by recycling, composting, upcycling, and repurposing. I visited Burt's Bees manufacturing facility in Durham, North Carolina, and learned best in class waste diversion tactics that I applied to Dordan's ZWTL challenge.

The first step in moving towards zero waste is to perform a waste audit; that is, an assessment of the types of waste produced at Dordan. Good ole dumpster diving. Here I am pre and post dumpster dive, notice the misery of the latter?

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If you can't manage what you can't measure, then quantifying the types of waste generated at a manufacturing facility is the first step towards achieving zero waste.

After performing several waste audits at Dordan, we isolated the "low hanging fruit"; those materials that made up the majority of the waste stream and were therefore the easiest to collect and resell to recyclers. We began baling our corrugate for recycling; and, we collected our damaged wood skids and material cores. Dordan has always collected and recycled its plastic scrap and aluminum as these materials have post-industrial value. Making the business case for recycling the other materials, however, was a bit more of a challenge.

The main "economic problem" with working towards zero waste to landfill is it often times costs more to collect and resell to recyclers than it does to landfill the material. For recycling to be profitable, you need to generate the quantity required to justify collection. Often times, collection is the most expensive part of recycling, be it post consumer (curb side) or post industrial (like Dordan and zero waste). So a way to overcome this economic barrier is to condense the material at the source and warehouse until the desirable quantity is achieve to justify a sale to secondary markets; hence, on site bailers, condensifiers, etc. This is not ideal for small or medium manufacturers and those with limited warehousing space.

Another approach to this issue of generating sufficient supply to justify collection and resale is the milk man concept; that is, having several manufacturers located geographically close to one another agree to collect the same types of post industrial materials i.e. corrugate, for recycling. Then, selecting one buyer to pick up the same material at the different facilities, providing the quantity to justify the collection as the value of the recyclate will be more than the cost of collection and resale.

To this vein, Dordan joined Chicago's Waste to Profit Network, a working group of Chicagoland manufacturers working towards zero waste or looking for "byproduct synergies" i.e. one man's trash is another man's treasure. This Network created and manages Cirrus, an online tool for manufactures interested in resellling or buying post-industrial materials otherwise destined for landfill.

Unfortunately, Dordan found no by-product synergies with other manufacturers using the tool; and, was unable to partner with other local manufactures to collaborate on the collection and resale of common post industrial materials.

Another portion of a company's waste stream is "organic waste"; that is, food and yard waste. One of the best ways to manage organic waste is to compost. As such, Dordan constructed a home composter on its property and began collecting all the food waste and yard waste generated by the company.

Two years later, I regret to inform my sustainable packaging devotees that the compost project was a total failure. Not only were we unable to create the necessary environment to encourage microbial ingestion, but we were also unable to achieve the right balance of "wet" to "dry" waste. The former being food waste and the latter being other organic matter, like office paper or leaves.

As such, it was my responsibility to put this initiative to death. Check out the video below of my bro and I demolishing the composter last week. And, learn about home compostable bio plastics and bees! During the video I reference Dordan's Bio Resin Show N Tell as the culmination of our R&D into bio based/biodegradable/compostable and otherwise "green" plastics. You can download that research here.

 

 

Dordan featured on "Plastics News Now:" Plastic Execs take the ALS ice bucket challenge

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Aug 21, 2014 11:24:12 AM

HI GUYS!

So this is hilarious. I got a tweet yesterday that Dordan is featured on Plastics News' "Plastics News Now" weekly news video segment and IT'S TRUE, WE ARE! It is so cool! Titled "Plastics Execs take the ice bucket challenge," this video segment also discusses Northface and its initiative to source all recycled PET for its clothes by 2016 AND innovations in prosthetics, thanks to plastics! Yours truly comes in around the 2:00 minute mark. Enjoy!

 

 

Dordan's ALS ice bucket challenge

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Aug 20, 2014 9:29:56 AM

Hey world!

The ALS ice bucket challenge has taken social media by storm; raising awarness, creating community, and encouraging dialogue. Not to mention, raising money for a great cause. 

Dordan's Sales Manager Aric Slavin (and my brother) and myself were challenged by other family members to the ALS ice bucket challenge. See our fabulous videos below. Notice my Dordan swag?!

To learn more about ALS and to donate, visit the ALS Association website. Ahhhh, the power of social media can be glorious. 

Is this for real?! CA company turns carbon emissions into plastics

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Aug 11, 2014 10:15:11 AM

Hello and happy Monday!

The other day our lead packaging engineer emailed me a link to this story, which describes a California company that captures carbon from the air and converts to plastics. What the what?! Let me pause for a moment as you re read that sentence and ponder its amazing ridiculousness.

And the fact that this news story was published via CBS news, a "real" news source, ponders me further.

Bioplastics are cool but critics point to the feedstocks being derived from otherwise valuable bi-products of food production as reason not to applaud. If this technology is for real, and a literal pollutant can be captured and repurposed as the carbon feedstock of plastics, then my mind is blown.

I reached out to one of my friends in the material science and engineered resins space, asking if this technology was viable. He confirmed that Dell was in fact into "carbon air;" Dell is not a company to doubt in the space of sustainable packaging solutions. They were one of the first consumer electronic brands to use Ecovative Design's mushroom based protective packaging for their laptop computers, which was admirable as heck! So yeah, keep your eyes peeled for more commentary on this air carbon business. Science is awesome!

Air carbon plastic bags

Pictured: Dell's "air carbon" plastic bags, CBS News

NPR's "The Weird, Underappreciated World of Plastic Packaging"

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Jul 30, 2014 8:21:00 AM

HEY!

I have spent a lot of time making a case for the sustainability of plastics and plastic packaging to combat all the misinformation that dominates contemporary discussions of plastics and the environment. Susan Freinkel's Plastics, A Toxic Love Story, discusses the sociological construction of plastics as evolving from representative of man's mastery over the natural environment after WW1 to representative of our society's over consumptive habits. In other words, in targeting plastic bags or plastic bottles, we are scapegoating our collective fear of our ever-depleting natural environment onto a tangible item, thereby ignoring the underlying mechanisms that facilitate our unsustainable models of production and consumption. Heady stuff!

So color me surprised when I came across this pro plastics article from liberal newsource NPR. Titled "The Weird, Underappreciated World of Plastic Packaging," this piece looks to highlight how plastic packaging reduces food waste and is in fact an engineering marvel, not a waste of resources, but an efficient and innovative use thereof. Author Maanvi Singh writes,

Like it or not, plastic packaging has become an ingrained part of the food system.

While it's clearly wasteful to buy salad, sandwiches and chips encased in plastic and then promptly throw that plastic away, we take for granted how it keeps so much of what we eat fresh and portable.

And behind many of those packages that allow us to eat on the go or savor perishable cookies or fish imported from the other side of the globe is a whole lot of science and innovation.

Click here to keep reading.

It are articles like these that will begin to change the perception of plastics in our social imagination from cheap and wasteful to demonstrative of human ingenuity, which any chemical or packaging engineer will argue they clearly are (no pun intended!).

Plastic packaging