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My new article for Packaging Digest: "Waste, Repackaged"

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 18, 2015 3:37:38 PM


My new article for Packaging Digest Magazine is now published and available for your reading pleasure!

To learn about the new frontier of sustainable packaging, check out my new article on how three innovating companies are repurposing waste to make bio-based packaging.


Pictured: waste cellulous repurposed as thermoformed tray


Plastic Clamshells vs. Paperboard Boxes: Life cycle environmental impacts and consumer convenience

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Nov 10, 2015 2:04:55 PM

Hey guys!

I was chatting with a potential client the other day about packaging when I learned that the company he works for is considering either a clamshell package or a paperboard box for it's product launch. The main concern when procuring packaging for this start-up is the environment and giving their customers what they want. Concern for the environment and consumer convenience?! This was going to be a slam dunk.

The selected packaging had to lend itself to two distribution channels: ecommerce and good ole fashion brick-and-mortar retail. What does any company that makes products want? To sell its products. It should therefore come as no surprise that the type of packaging selected i.e. clamshell vs. box, should work to facilitate sales. Sure Dordan's tag line "Seeing it Sells it" assumes that consumers prefer to see the actual product as opposed to a graphic representation thereof while shopping, but without actual data, how can you be so certain?

Well, lucky for me, and every other person selling transparent packaging like clamshells, Clemson University did an eye tracking study where they fashioned participants in a mock-retail store with eye tracking glasses and sent them, well, shopping. The shoppers had to choose between three different products packaged in both plastic clamshells and paperboard boxes. The intent of the study was to determine what, if any, impact the packaging type has on consumer product preference and consequently, retail sales.

And drum roll please...

It was found that plastic clamshell packaging facilitates product sales 402% times more than paperboard boxes. But don't take my word for it; here is the study.

Now onto the environment! My favorite.

When choosing between different packaging types and concern for the environment exists, it is important to consider the entire life cycle of a package through its production, use, and end of life management. Dordan use to subscribe to comparative packaging life cycle assessment software COMPASS, which allowed us to compare the life cycle impacts of different packaging types in the design phase. By entering in the packaging material type and weight and selecting the method of conversion and geographical data set, Dordan could communicate the environmental inputs and outputs of its package designs. To understand the environmental performance of plastic clamshells vs. paperboard boxes, we used COMPASS. Here we found that paper-based packaging solutions require extensive water and resource consumption, pulp production contributing greatly to eutrophication and air emissions. Contrarily, plastic clamshells have higher fossil fuel consumption than paperboard boxes, due primarily to the feedstock. When choosing between different packaging material types, it is important to understand the life cycle environmental impacts as there is no silver bullet when it comes to sustainable packaging; just informed decision making. Please note this analysis was done in 2011; updated data sets may now be available re: material recovery.

Here is a screen shot of the data output.

And here is a report I created a couple years back for those considering either paper or plastic packaging solutions from a sustainability context.

So, did this prospect become a customer, you wonder?! Not yet; they are now investigating production in China, ha!

Ohhh the irony of intent!

Dordan clamshell package featured on Season 4 of Breaking Bad!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 27, 2015 9:37:54 AM


Hello. I know I am late to the whole awesomeness that is Breaking Bad BUT as I was cruising through Season 4 last night I saw THIS:

LOOK! It is Dordan's clamshell package in all of it's glory! It is so cool to see products that come of your thermoforming lines at retail or, in a Breaking Bad episode!

For #ThrowbackThursday, circa 1980s Dordan advertisements

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 8, 2015 10:52:23 AM

Hey guys!

The 1980s were awesome. Check out these awesome 1980s Dordan ads for #ThrowbackThursday. I don't think there are enough puns in today's advertising; let's bring puns back.

My article on Green Plastics for Thermoforming #1 on!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Oct 5, 2015 9:52:40 AM

Hey guys!

Guess what?!

My latest article for Packaging Digest Magazine, "Yesterday's 'Promising' Green Materials: Where are they now?" was the #1 most read article on in September!

To see the top 5 most popular articles from Packaging Digest for September, click here!

The interest in green materials for thermoforming provided the motivation for my next article for Packaging Digest Magazine, "The Future of Green Materials for Packaging": this will profile companies and projects that have the potential to revolutionize the sustainable packaging industry; though as we learned with the review of yesterday's promising green materials, a great product does not a great company make.

Here are the list of companies I am interviewing for inclusion in my next article on "the future" of green materials for packaging:

  • Mango Materials on methane-based bio plastic PHA
  • LOLIWARE on biodegr[edible] food service packaging
  • ZELFO Technologies on packaging made from 100% food waste
  • BIOBOARD/ IRIS on cheese based packaging laminate
  • WikiFoods on edible packaging
  • Ecovative on mushroom packaging

Dordan Video Testimonial: The Chicago Management Institute at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 30, 2015 10:25:18 AM


Check out my video testimonial about the Chicago Management Institute, an executive management program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I attended this program last year and had a blast; so much so, I volunteered to help CMI spread the good word in this video testimonial. Notice the Booth shirt?!

Happy 20th Birthday Pack Expo! To celebrate, my favorite Pack Expo memories!

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 29, 2015 12:07:05 PM

Greetings my sustainable packaging friends.

I hope everyone caught the super narly blood moon.

And I hope everyone is having an even more narly time at Pack Expo in Last Vegas! The Show is celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year, and in celebration thereof, I thought I would put together a compilation of Dordan's favorite Pack Expo memories. This is the first time we have not exhibited at Pack Expo in Las Vegas since my employment at Dordan, and reliving these moments makes me feel less left out of the party. Enjoy!

  • VIDEO: Thermoformed "Grow Trays" Facilitate Mushroom Packaging

And here are the dudes and I looking like bosses booth-side at last year's Pack Expo:

Wishing everyone a successful 2015 Pack Expo!

Download "Green Plastics for Thermoforming," A Then & Now Comparative

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 21, 2015 11:56:35 AM

Hello and happy Monday!

I received permission from Packaging Digest to convert my latest article on green plastics for thermoforming into a resource that can be downloaded for my readers.

Download "Green Plastics for Thermoforming" to learn about today's market for sustainable plastics compared to the market 5 years ago; presentation includes 7 material profiles with physical properties and environmental performance description; and, primary interviews with suppliers presents the inside story.

This presentation is follow up to Dordan's now retired Bio Resin Show N Tell, available for download for a limited time here.

Above: Yesterday's "promising" green materials, where are they now?


"The Future" of sustainable plastics for packaging

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 18, 2015 8:53:55 AM

Greetings my sustainable packaging people, happy Friday!

Guess what?! I am doing a follow up to my "Yesterday's Promising 'Green' Materials: Where are they now?" article for Packaging Digest, which focuses on "the future" of sustainable plastics for packaging. While researching what happened to the nontraditional materials profiled in Dordan's Bio Resin Show N Tell for my latest article, I came across some other materials that, though not yet commercialized for thermoforming, may lend themselves to other packaging applications in "The Future" muhaha; examples include edible cup company LOLIWARE and methane-based PHB supplier Mango Materials. I am rounding up a handful of other super exotic and sustainable materials to profile alongside these, in a similar format to my latest article.

I actually interviewed Co-Founder and Co-CEO of LOLIWARE at SUSTPACK15. Check it out!


Yesterday's Promising 'Green' Materials: Where are they now?

Posted by Chandler Slavin on Sep 8, 2015 8:45:27 AM

Guys, my new article for Packaging Digest Magazine titled "Yesterday's Promising 'Green' Materials: Where are they now?" was published last week!

Article includes a "Where are they now?" discussion of the following non traditional resins for thermoforming:

  • PLA
  • Enhanced PLA
  • PHA
  • DPET
  • Foamed RPET
  • Algae plastic
  • Algae plastic

Material Profiles include descriptions of:

  • Environmental performance & credentials
  • Technical properties
  • Strategic market analysis

All information on materials collected through primary interviews with material suppliers.

A special thanks to Steve Davis at Natureworks, Laura Pichon at Extech Plastics, Paul Antoniadis at Solegear, Lynne Brum at Metabolix, Theresa Vanna at Transilwrap, Ryan Hunt at ALGIX, and Joe Barenberg at OCTAL.

Click here to learn where yesterday's "green" materials for thermoforming are now.

Top image: algae plastic & PP, 2011; bottom, algae plastic & PS, 2015


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