Welcome to Dordan's blog

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

The results are in! How did the PET thermoform recycling pilots go?!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Dec 4, 2014 3:47:46 PM

Hello world!

Not too sure if you caught this press release by SPI describing the results of the NAPCOR/SPI PET thermoform recycling pilots. To refresh your memory, SPI awarded grants to three recyclers following a RFP in 2011 to implement PET thermoform recycling programs. The press release summarizes that these actions lead to an increase in PET thermoform recycling in the US and Canada, hurray!

I, however, was left unsatisfied at the conclusion of the release. While I think it is positively fabulous that the three different PET thermoform recycling programs resulted in the increase of PET thermoform recycling in the country, I wanted to drill down and understand the pros and cons of each program. After all, SPI/NAPCOR chose the recyclers they did because they all represented a different set of collection methods and service demographics, which dramatically impacts a recycler's bottom line. So, my sustainable packaging friends, I have analyzed the Report, "SPI and NAPCOR Study on Increasing PET Thermoform Recycling through Education, Access, and Collection Programs," and am here to report back.

First of all, I think the aforementioned Report is sensational; it is well written and presents an objective treatment of the success of the pilots. So kudos to all those involved. It's existence speaks to the tremendous progress in PET thermoform recycling the last 5 years, which I am happy to have been a part of.

But now let's get onto the good stuff.

So here is the deal: SPI selected three very different recyclers to implement their own version of PET thermoform recycling. First up, and receiving the largest portion of the SPI grant ($63,000), is Montgomery County. Based in Central Maryland and owned by the County, this recycler provides waste management services to 1.5 million county residents; including, single and multi-family residential, commercial, governmental, and away from home collection like private and public schools and local/regional events and festivals. Montgomery County's goal upon receiving the grant was to develop an efficient urban/suburban model for PET thermoform recycling.

Next up, receiving the second highest chunk of grant money ($25,000) is Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center, Inc. (hereafter, RMC). Based in Pennsylvania, RMC is a non-profit corporation providing waste management services for 165,000 residents of Elk and Lebanon Counties. Elk County has a population of 31,946 and offers public, private, and non-profit recycling collection operations including two curbside and six drop off programs sponsored by local government. The Lebanon County Recycling Program serves a population of 133,568 and like Elk County, offers public, private, and non-profit recycling programs; including, 17 curbside collection programs and eight drop off programs, all sponsored by local government. RMC's goal upon receiving the grant was to develop a successful rural collection model for PET thermoform recycling. 

Last but not least, though receiving the least amount of grant funding ($10,000), is Firstar Fiber, Inc., a privately owned recycler providing waste management services to Omaha and Lincoln metropolitan regions, central and northeastern communities of Nebraska; and, the Sioux City, Woodburry County, and western regions of Iowa. With its diverse customer base and collection methods, Firstar built a strong collaborative PET thermoform recycling program team that includes Omaha's recycling office, local college sport venues, and regional grocery representatives. Firstar's goal upon receiving the grant was to implement a sustainable residential and away-from-home PET thermoform recycling model.

Just as much as these grant recipients differed in demographics and collection programs offered, so too did the differ in the types of education they used to inform their participants that PET thermoforms are now recyclable. Montgomory Country employed the most extensive forms of education, investing in everything from advertisements in cable television, radio, movie theater previews, print publications, and use of transit advertising; consult the Report for a list of all communication methods employed. RMC invested in more moderate educational messaging, including residential mailers and radio advertisements. Firstar focused on targeted messaging, like video advertisements at sporting events (to facilitate away from home recycling) and "I'm Recyclable" stickers on grocery products.

And now we get to the real meat of the discussion; that is, processing and intermediate processing methods employed. As argued in my Recycling Report, the issue of look a likes, like PVC clamshells, are one of the largest obstacles facing the inclusion of PET thermoforms in the recycling infrastructure. As such, each grant recipient had to develop its own approach to removing this barrier to recycling PET thermoforms from its existing sortation processes.

Montgomery County collected clear and black PET thermoforms for recycling; the latter coming directly from school and foodservice program partners. It processed clear PET thermoforms in secondary sort, once all the fiber, metal, PET bottle and HDPE containers had been removed. The recycler trained sorters to visually identify PET thermoform packaging from other look a likes, relying on NAPCOR's technical training. Grant funding was used to purchase two hoppers and hire two individuals devoted to sorting PET thermoforms. 

RMC relied on source separation at drop off locations as the primary processing method for PET thermoform recycling. Those thermoforms not readily distinguishable as PET were put aside for further analysis via portable plastic resin analyzing equipment procured by RMC through grant funding. Also acquired with grant funding includes durable storage containers that could be easily broken down when not used, bulk mailing of education material, and radio advertisements.

Firstar processed curbside collected thermoforms via manual sortation into mixed plastic loads. The process to recover PET bottles and thermoforms was neither manual nor strictly mechanical insofar as requiring optical sorters; rather, both were left on a conveyor feeding the container sort line so as to fall off the end along with aluminum cans, which were removed with eddy current. Firstar sorters removed only plastics #2-7, letting PET stay on the line. Sorters then visually identified PET thermoforms on the line via NAPCOR technical training. Grant funding was used to situate participating colleges with recycling containers and the aforementioned-targeted educational medias.

Soooo what program proved most successful?

The results are in.

In Montgomery County, the total PET thermoforms shipped during the grant period was 258.67 Tons vs. the 40.14 Tons shipped six months before the grant. For RMC, the PET thermoforms collected were mixed with bottles, with 10% of each bale by weight estimated to be PET thermoforms. Mixed PET bottle/thermoform bales sold to Evergreen in Ohio totaled 27.4 Tons, 2.74 Tons being PET thermoforms. And at Firstar, a study performed on the PET sorted identified that PET thermoforms represented 9% of the total PET processed; the company estimates that thermoforms were approaching 1% of PET bales, though no definitive figures exist for total PET bottle and/or thermoform Tons shipped/sold. Firstar suggested that allowable levels of thermoforms may be 5-10% by weight of PET bottle/thermoform bales; that only a manual sort could maintain low capital costs; and, relying on sort crews further provides responsiveness to match the developing supply chain i.e. scale up or down thermoforms collected to match intermediate PET processors' tolerance. It was determined that end market value related to combining thermoforms with bottles would inform material handling procedures at the MRF level; similarly, the market would determine levels of tolerance. The low-tech approach to sorting at Firstar proved effective to capture PET thermoforms but has a greater margin of error for look a like contamination. The recycler's approach neither adversely impacted pricing nor quality from end markets. If the markets determine that thermoforms degrade the value of bottles to the point that there is no choice but to reduce their price when included, however, it will leave Firstar with few options other to be pulled with the lowest value mixed plastic bales. The key is for MRFs to employ auto-sorters to reduce the margin of error for including look a likes in PET only bales.

In summary, Montgomery generated $41,899.41 in revenue from the sale of PET thermoforms, RMC generated $9,478.42 in revenue for PET mixed bales, and Firstar reported no sales figures. The total cost to Montgomery Country to recycle PET thermoforms was $136,251.31, though I don't know if this includes or omits the grant funding; for Firstar, $120,000, and for RMC, no systems costs were made available.

Wow. I will let y'all chew on all this fabulous data for a day or two before we develop some take-aways. I have been asked by Plastics in Packaging Magazine to describe the pilots' takeaways in a new feature. Stay tuned! Plastics in Packaging Magazine previously awarded me the cover story for my second Recycling Report, "The State of Post-Consumer PET Thermoform Recycling: Past, Present, & Future."


Above: Dordan custom PET thermoformed clamshell packaging

Dordan's Customer Analysis gives way to GREAT customer testimonials

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 18, 2014 11:19:00 AM


As you may recall, I completed an Executive Management Program at the University of Chicago BOOTH School of Business last winter. One of our seminars on business strategy involved how to conduct a customer analysis, as you don't have a business if you don't have customers. Seems simple enough but it was crazy how few of my classmates had actually taken the time to speak with their customers. You know, hit the street, meet with customers face-to-face, and learn how they see the company; not how you think they see it.

Our professor asked each of us to conduct a Raving Fan interview where we literally met with a customer and asked them a list of questions, all aimed at getting to the core of a customers' perception of our companies. My favorite question that concluded the interview was, "If Dordan were a car, what kind if car would it be and why?" While you may see your company as a BMW, your customers may see it as a Toyota, which totally changes the way you market yourself and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Afterall, not everyone wants a BWM, some people want a reliable, affordable, and hard-working Toyota!

Several months later I am happy to report that our customers actually, like, sort of love us. I did not perform a single customer interview where our customers were not totally happy with our products or services. I suppose that makes sense, because if they were not happy, they would probably look elsewhere, as thermoforming isn't some innovative new technology that only Dordan can do (though we like to think we do it better than everyone else, ha!).

And thank goodness that they have not looked elsewhere as I would say about 80% of our customers have been customers of Dordan for over 10 years. 10 years! Now if that isn't a good company, I don't know what is.

Below are some of my favorite customer testimonials derived from my customer analysis. Who knew our customers were better marketers than ME, ha! More customer interviews and testimonials to come!

If you have a story that you would like to submit about your experiences with Dordan, please do so here!


"Dordan is a family manufacturing business that cares about its customers and the quality it produces."

[CEO of OEM industrial sealant supplier]


Dordan Interviewer: Would you recommend Dordan to a colleague who does not know about us?

Customer: "Dordan would be highly recommended. Aric Slavin is very professional and very helpful. I have numerous vendors that I have to babysit; it is so refreshing to have a vendor that I don't have to!"

[Materials Manager at interventional pain management specialist]


"Only about 10% of the vendors we use are rated as A suppliers in our vendor scorecard system. If I could rate [Dordan] as a vendor, I would put it in that top 10% of A vendors. There are just no problems."

[Project Manager at point-of-purchase display supplier]


Dordan Interviewer: Is there anything that Dordan could do to increase its value to you as a thermoform supplier?

Customer: "You guys have already done that. When we had to change the part due to some fulfillment issue, we worked closely with Rich on how to improve part performance. We have revised this part two times now to improve its performance and durability, and Dordan was there every step of the way."

[Purchasing at global product leader of powertrain solutions]


"I am constantly learning what is possible with thermoforming. Unlike a lot of engineering processes, thermoforming is a little bit of an art form, so I have a lot of respect for the designers and Engineers at Dordan. They really have a deeper understanding that you can only get through experience. Dordan also has one of the most professional and cleanest shops I have ever seen. They have a nice layout and nice equipment."

[Sam Harrington at Ecovative Design, LLC.]


"Dear Dan, Rich, Aric, and John,

We would like to extend our appreciation for hosting our team at Dordan to show us the capabilities and capacity at your company. Dordan demonstrated strong attributes from your engineering design, to the tool making, to the manufacturing that makes Dordan a strong thermoformer. Thank you for sharing your site and expertise, which demonstrates the pride that Dordan has in providing customers with quality packaging solutions."

[Fortune 100 company that creates solutions to the world's toughest challenges, including security, clean energy, and safety.]


Fom our hearts to yours, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

Warm Wishes,

Representatives of Dordan Sales and Management Team at this year's Pack Expo in Chicago

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