SHOW ME DONT TELL ME

As usual, plastic waste is front and center in the news. “It’s polluting oceans, filling up landfills, not degrading or going away, and as quickly as we make new plastic products and package things in single use plastic packaging … all this plastic waste compounds and gets worse.”

Who’s Listening?

Finally.. big companies and big brands are definitely listening. To who? To consumers that care and make purchasing decisions with sustainability and social purpose in mind. Big companies and big brands have been announcing big plastic-related sustainability commitments. Examples.
  1. PepsiCo North America’s achievement of 95% recyclable plastic packaging
  2. Nestle’s commitment to phasing out non-recyclable plastics by 2025
  3. KFC’s goal of 100% recoverable or reusable plastic-based packaging by 2025.

Clearly, Corporate America is (all in) committing themselves to tackling the plastic waste problem. The question is..

IS RECYCLING “THE” SOLUTION?

We along with many Consumers are big advocates of plastic recycling. The good news is 55% of consumers claim to recycle everything that can be recycled? The not-so good news is when you drill into the actual (data), what consumers really mean is they recycle the stuff that’s (conveniently) located near their recycling bin in the kitchen, yet in reality everything else hits the trash.

The Take Away.

What we’ve learned is consumers care about our environment, they are proud of their efforts to protect our environment, they make purchasing decisions in part based on our environment, but … we also learned that consumers are actually a tad lazy about recycling.

What Does That Mean to Businesses and Brands?

It means Opportunity & Responsibility. Big business and big brands are making it easier for consumers to “feel good” about their sustainability efforts by taking charge, by making products and packaging that are more sustainable and socially purposeful, by implementing a variety of plastic recycling and sustainability initiatives, in essence doing the hard work on behalf of the consumer.

Challenges are abound …

As a result of consumer recycling “inaction” and multiple challenges including (1) lack of government or financial incentive to invest in recycling & sustainability, (2) limited supply chain collaboration, (3) challenging economic and market conditions, (4) heavy risk investing in recycling infrastructure, and (5) China refusing to accept the 30-40% of plastic recyclables we used to ship overseas, the vast majority of recyclable thermo plastic materials, like 90%, still get trashed (Landfilled)!! That’s the reality we are living in. 90%.

THAT MEANS ONLY AROUND 10% OF THE THERMO PLASTIC MATERIALS WE USE THAT COULD BE RECYCLED, ACTUALLY GET RECYCLED.

So if you are a big company, or a big brand, and you generate “branded trash including branded plastic waste … just know that 90% of your branded plastic trash is winding up in our landfills or natural ecosystem with your hand prints all over it! Apologies for being harsh.

As circular economy plastics sustainability advisors, we spend our waking business hours helping companies, brands, manufacturers, distributors, recycling firms solve their plastic waste issues, including recycling, redesign, reuse, recollection, technology, innovation, circular economy, and so on.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED 

After 30 years involved in plastics recycling sustainability and circular economy solutions, and 900m pounds of hands-on experience, we’ve learned there’s no cookie cutter approach to plastics sustainability and there’s no “one single solution” to solving the plastic waste issue.

One new plastic sustainability concept that launched recently represents a new option to deal with “branded plastic trash”. It’s known as reusable rather than single-use recyclable products. Nestle, P&G, PepsiCo, Unilever and other major brands and companies are joining to participate in a new reusable home goods subscription service known as Loop.

Loop was created by TerraCycle, who’s been an innovator in sustainability for years. We applaud them! Similar to the old school “milk delivery” practice from long ago, products come delivered to your doorstep in a reusable shipping container and all in reusable packaging: simply return and reuse. It’s way too early to tell how Loop will fare (and there is still the question of carbon impact associated with the service) but it’s another exciting innovative example of rethinking solutions to the plastic waste crisis. Whether Loop works or not, or any of the many other sustainability initiatives under way, the bigger point is, we (all) need to rethink how we interact with plastics.

TIME TO RETHINK

  • How we buy and use plastic raw materials to make plastic products and packaging and how manufacturers can increase their use of recycled plastic resins and additives that support plastic sustainability. Increasing use of recycled plastic raw materials including Bulk Sustainable Raw Material Purchasing, can help make plastic-products more sustainable and build the “demand” for recycling infrastructure long term. GearedforGreen’s eco supply chain not only supplies more than 1B Pounds of Sustainable Plastic Resins annually, we provide total support every step of the way from lab to your production floor, to help manufacturers use recycled and sustainable plastic raw materials most effectively.
  • How we recycle plastic waste generated in manufacturing, distribution and after consumer use, including toll reuse, certified destruction brand protection, closed loop and open loop, connecting circular economies, creating end of use consumer incentives, building “social purpose” into recycling, and so on. The Plastics manufacturing and Packaging industries must remember that a substantial amount of industrial and commercial plastic waste gets generated well before it ever reaches the intended consumer. GearedforGreen helps manufacturers to recycle post-industrial and post-consumer plastic waste, clean or even  contaminated, in many forms including rigid, flexible, and film, including HDPE, LDPE, HMWPE, PP, PS, PET, PVC, as well as many engineered grades such as ABS, POLYCARBONATE, ACRYLIC, NYLON, etc. Industries have the opportunity to rethink their own plastic waste management practices, rethink of plastic waste not as trash but instead as a circular economy raw material, and connect together to implement supply chain solutions to eliminate plastic waste.
  • How businesses buy plastic products they use themselves in their own everyday corporate operations and what could influence them to make more sustainable purchasing decisions themselves. If businesses purchased more sustainably made plastic products themselves, they can help build recycling “demand”. Big companies, brands and retailers use quite a bit of plastic products themselves in their own every day operations. Just look around. Plastic can liners, trash bags, check out plastic bags, eCommerce shipping bags, stretch wrap, plastic poly bags & wraps, plastic shipping hangers, trash cans, recycling bins, plastic shipping pallets, dunnage and conveyance trays, storage containers, corporate branded uniforms and promotional products, and so on. You get the idea?  These plastic products are all made from the same kinds of thermo plastic materials generated as plastic waste. Gearedforgreen helps turn all that plastic waste back into brand new sustainable plastic products. Buying GREEN not only raises awareness and educates stakeholders, it represents billions of pounds of plastic products purchased & used in everyday corporate operations that could be and should be made entirely in America and from 100% recycled plastics.
  • How we connect collaboratively and transparently with our supply chains to create efficiencies, share resources, reuse plastic waste more effectively, design-out plastic waste in our products, re-design products for end-of-use recycling, use alternative packaging materials, and integrate innovations that support plastics recycling and sustainability. GearedforGreen helps industry connect all the dots within the supply chain… creating Connected, Collaborative, Transparent Circular Economies that collect plastic waste, turn it into clean high quality custom formulated sustainable plastic raw materials, and back into all kinds of consumer and industrial plastic products.

To implement plastics sustainability initiatives for your business or organization, contact GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, plasticsustainability@gearedforgreen.com or visit www.gearedforgreen.com  

Circular Economies for all pages

Over the years we’ve worked on many different types of plastic circular economy programs for clients. We’ve helped retailers create their own internal “Demand” for their plastic waste by closing their own loops into products they use in operations. We’ve helped Plastic Manufacturers achieve zero plastic waste in their operations and create strategies to increase usage of “sustainable” plastic raw materials in their products to gain competitive & market advantages. We’ve “Connected” Eco Supply Chains for clients creating their own circular economies. We’ve helped Consumer Brands connect socially sustainable missions to raise awareness and connect stronger with consumers. We’ve helped distribution channels implement zero plastic waste initiatives to reduce cost and landfill impact and Packaging producers implement redesign, raw material & single use packaging recycling solutions to reduce their environmental footprint.

Each client brings exciting new opportunities to improve sustainability! One thing we’ve learned is there is No Cookie Cutter Approach to plastic sustainability and circular economies. Each client has their own unique goals, logistics, products, brand, supply chain and so on.

Creating successful circular economies is as much about Listening & Learning as it is about understanding Plastics-Polymers-Recycling-Technology, as it is about Innovation & Efficiency, as it is about Environment & Resources, and Passion & Persistence.

That said, we do have (5) Key Elements we integrate into every GearedforGreen plastic circular economy program for our clients. They are our Guiding Principles we integrate into everything we do.

We call it MIMIC

MIMIC is the Circular Economy Ecosystem we help create for our clients, following the natural ecosystem we live in today. We believe that plastic circular economies must focus equally on environmental, economic, and social sustainability in order to be effective long term. So we created MIMIC to ensure that all our efforts keep these principles in mind with everything we do.  MIMIC stands for Materials, Innovation, Money, Improvement,  Connection.

MATERIALS: Have a deep understanding of plastics, polymers and their physical properties, how plastics are recycled, technologies to recycle challenging materials, the supply chain of local regional recyclable collectors and processors, what recycled plastic materials can be turned into, and what materials can be reused instead of recycled. Maintain extensive expertise in sustainable raw material selection, including additives, engineering and tooling to enhance access and reuse of sustainable raw materials in manufacturing. Utilize science, measurement and certification to ensure the work we do positively impacts sustainability.

 

INNOVATION: Use our creativity & imagination to look beyond “business as usual “ to help create strategies that truly improve economic, environmental, social brand value over and above “price per pound”. Be forward thinking when constructing circular economies to improve performance, increase efficiency and speed to market. Utilize innovation to enhance and connect internal & external sustainability. Access consumer market data to create competitive differentiation.

 

MONEY: Circular economy sustainability is as much about “money and value creation” as it is about environment. If sustainability doesn’t cause economic benefit, its not sustainable long term. Focus equally on economic, environmental and social value creation, including bottom line, top line, brand, stakeholder value, and shared-leveraged-stabilized supply chain value.

 

IMPROVEMENT: Even before we’re done implementing plastic circular economy solutions, “Continual Improvement” strategy is required. Change is the only constant, so we balance the use of today’s newest technologies, materials, resources & circular economy methodologies while staying flexible, relevant and proactive to utilize newest & future shared practices, resources and technologies.

 

CONNECTION: Circular Economies are all about connecting, collaboration, teamwork & transparency to help our clients and their supply chains improve sustainability “together”. Connecting the supply chain facilitates shared resources & best practices along with communication to educate, raise awareness, and increase sustainability with supply chain partners, stakeholders, customers and consumers.

 

To learn more about plastics sustainability, recycling, zero plastic waste solutions, raw materials, packaging solutions, circular economies, social partnerships, eco apparel and uniforms, and MIMIC our five elements to create successful plastics circular economies, contact GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR)4327, email to circulareconomy@gearedforgreen.com, or visit www.gearedforgreen.com  

HOW WE STEM THE TIDE

IN A WORLD THAT CAN SEEM overwhelmed by potentially eternal plastic waste, are biodegradables the ultimate solution? Probably not. But it’s complicated. The industry is still debating what “biodegradable” actually means. And some plastics made of fossil fuels will biodegrade, while some plant-based “bioplastics” won’t.

Biodegradable plastics have been around since the late 1980s. They initially were marketed with the implied promise that they’d somehow disappear once they were disposed of, just as leaves on the forest floor are decomposed by fungi and soil microbes. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Biodegradables don’t live up to their promise, for example, in the dark, oxygen-free environment of a commercial landfill or in the cool waters of the ocean, if they should end up there. You can’t throw them in your backyard compost either. To break down, they require the 130-degree heat of an industrial composter. Many industrial composters accept only plastics that meet certain standards, ensuring they will leave no fragments behind that can harm the environment or human health. And if you throw some biodegradables in with recyclables, you might ruin the latter, creating a mix that can no longer be relied on to make durable new plastic. In 2015 the United Nations Environment Program wrote off biodegradables as an unrealistic solution that will neither reduce the amount of plastic flowing into the oceans nor prevent potential chemical or physical harm to marine life. It concluded that the label “biodegradable” may actually encourage littering.

Some engineers are looking for ways around these obstacles. Jenna Jambeck and her colleagues at the University of Georgia’s New Materials Institute are using polymers synthesized by microbes to make packaging they hope will compost readily and biodegrade in the ocean. Corn chip bags are their first target.

It’s a tall order. Even the best biodegradable product won’t magically disappear. A plastic container robust enough to carry a gallon of milk can’t decompose like paper. A flowerpot, one of Polymateria’s experimental products, could take up to two years to dissolve if tossed in a ditch, Dunne concedes. Biodegradables, some critics say, don’t address the fundamental problem: our throwaway culture.

“What is it that we are promoting?” asks Ramani Narayan, a Michigan State University chemical engineering professor. “Throw it away, and eventually it will go away?” The more responsible approach, he says, is a “circular economy” model, in which everything is reused or recycled and “any ‘leakage’ into the environment, whether biodegradable or not, is not acceptable.”

China is providing motivation. For nearly three decades it has bought about half the world’s recyclable plastic. But this year it called a halt to most scrap imports. Recyclables are now piling up in the countries that generated them. “We hope it will push towards more circular management.”

To learn more about this National Geographic article by #LaurieParker and GearedforGreen sustainability, recycling, raw material, circular supply chain services, please contact us at:

GearedforGreen – Daniel Schrager, President, GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com

Equipment Used

It’s an exciting time to be in the Plastics Recycling Equipment Business. For innovative equipment dealers and process developers, there’s more opportunity than ever…if you are willing to grow outside of the box.

Today’s plastics sustainability climate is ripe with innovation. Along with growing pressure from environmental organizations and within our plastics industry itself, there are mounting initiatives all across North America driving plastics recycling growth.

Eco supply chains are connecting Brands and Plastics Manufacturers with Waste Collectors, Plastic Recycling firms and Sustainable Raw Material suppliers, to create transparent connected Closed Loop supply chains. It isnt a passing fad. Circular Supply Chains are increasingly becoming the norm across our plastics industry and in many other industry sectors globally. Companies are working collaboratively across the supply chain to their own benefit but this collaboration is also driving growth, profitability, and innovation that benefits our entire plastics industry.

Eco supply chains are also creating significant opportunities for new and used equipment dealers that know where to find used equipment and have access and expertise in plastics recycling equipment, especially used recycling equipment. There is tremendous value having used plastic recycling equipment expetise!

Traditionally dealers buy and sell used plastic recycling equipment, and benefit on the profit margins they earn on (one time sales). The more one time sales they produce, the more annual revenue created.

Today dealers are also connecting in eco supply chains and leveraging their expertise and resources to create (ongoing long term revenue).

As example, an innovative growing plastic recycling firm developed proprietary technologies to recycle challenging “hard to recycle” plastic waste. They plan to scale their business to 100 million pounds annual plastic recycling. This innovation offers substantial growth opportunity! The innovative plastic recycling firm already owns and has the core equipment and technology in operation, however in order to scale to 100m, they need to add ancillary equipment over time such as grinders, shredders, metal separation, conveyors, wash tanks, silos, etc. This used equipment is out there and available in the market, often sitting idle or in inventory, and equipment dealers have the expertise to get it.

The challenge.. How does innovative plastic recycling firm add this ancillary equipment and at the same time manage their financial resources when they are starting out?

The answer.. Connecting in an eco supply chain whereby used equipment dealers provide the ancillary equipment “in partnership” with innovative plastic recycling firms and share the revenue of the business together.

This eco supply chain approach benefits everyone in the supply chain. Used equipment doesn’t sit idle waiting for a sale. Dealers leverage their expertise and resources for a piece of the action. Innovative plastics recycling firms gain access to much needed ancillary equipment without having to put up money. Equipment dealers earn ongoing revenue beyond the value of the used equipment. By connecting in an eco supply chain, equipment dealers and innovative plastic recycling firms (de-risk) together. Partners in an eco supply chain share revenue. Plastic recycling rates climb.

To learn more about how you can leverage your used equipment resources and expertise and develop long term revenue connecting in an eco supply chain, contact #GearedforGreen.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327 info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com
Eco supply chains

china ban 2

Some see the China plastics ban as a huge problem, others see it more as a long term opportunity. We see the proverbial pet bottle as 1/2 full.

1st came the Green Fence… a warning shot. Now the National Sword. Both cool names btw… kudos to China. The China policies (limiting) imports of plastic scrap materials is having a profound change to the plastics recycling eco system here in the USA and around the world. The question is equally WHY and WHAT NOW?

WHY? – We’ve all heard lots of complaints, confusion, and disagreement to the new China National Sword policy, some related to short notice of these new scrap import restrictions, others related to lack of clarity about what recyclables are banned or allowed and for how long. Truth be told, we all saw it coming or should have because it was kind of … “Wild West”.

Irrespective of the impacts the “Sword” is having on our scrap and recycling markets here in the USA, it seems clear the Chinese government is concerned that (garbage) is being willfully sent to their country disguised as recyclables. An official of the Ministry of Environmental Protection told the press in July that “the problem of foreign garbage is loathed by everyone in China.” And the press reports also indicate that a recent documentary, PLASTIC CHINA, alleging the health and environmental harms of imported plastics for recycling, spurred Chinese officials to take action.

SO WHAT NOW ?- The world is very much a connected marketplace and still represents enormous opportunity to trade recyclables and sustainables on a global basis, but what we trade .. where we trade.. how we trade .. are changing along with population growth and environmental issues. More people = more consumption = more products = more waste.

America for the most part has maintained status quo continuing to make products with poor end of use options and exporting much of our plastic waste around the world thinking cheaper labor is a solution. It isn’t. Today 90% + of all plastic products used in the USA find their way to landfills or worse, oceans, beaches, etc. Obviously we haven’t yet implemented a strong solution.

It’s important (we) see the forest through the trees, and adapt. When we say (we) we mean product and packaging manufacturers, and consumer brands, retailers, and consumers, along with solid waste, recycling, and raw material professionals.

Everyone in the USA supply chain involved in making, selling, using, and recycling plastic products have good reason to be concerned. China imports about 30 percent of the plastic waste collected for recycling in America. When China stops buying plastic scrap from America and across the world, it creates a glut here in the USA and as supply-demand dictates, commodity prices drop, leading to reduced recycling rates, increased landfill disposal, and more companies leaving the industry because they can’t make money.

The China National Sword policy is no doubt a problem today… but the important discussion we need to have is … what effect will it have long term and will it ultimately drive innovation, investment, and sustainable manufacturing here in the USA ?

THE PROBLEM ISN’T JUST A USA PLASTICS RECYCLING PROBLEM… IT’S A USA INDUSTRY SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEM!

It impacts us all up & down the supply chain, including plastic products and packaging manufacturers that create all the plastic products that are causing all this waste, major brands using plastics to make & package their products, retailers selling all this stuff, and consumers buying all this stuff. It also includes the solid waste management, recycling, and raw material companies that collect and recycle plastic waste after it is all used and that supply sustainable or non sustainable raw material to make plastic products.

We are all part of the circular economy (the eco supply chain) and we are all part of the circular solution! We ourselves have the ability to solve the problem of plastic waste … if we work together!

For those interested in going circular to collaborate to find better ways to make plastic products & packaging more sustainably and to take better responsibility together for these products at end of use, we’d ❤ to talk and find ways to collaborate together.

By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com

cardboard box reuse1

For years recycling cardboard boxes has been a centerpiece for corporate recycling programs. Cardboard is widely recyclable and for years there has been relatively strong domestic & international markets for corrugated material. Corrugated cardboard scrap also known as OCC (old corrugated cardboard) is generated by many local, regional, national businesses across industries. In 2016 more than 40 million tons of paper related scrap was recycled, much of which was cardboard.

While cardboard box recycling is an excellent approach to handling used boxes, cardboard box reuse, when applicable, offers even better improved (economic, environmental, and productivity) benefits up & down the supply chain.  

As a sustainability company involved in circular eco-supply chains, GearedforGreen looks for ways to improve ROI in REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE ♻ programs for clients. Cardboard box reuse is a great approach to improved ROI.

We work with many companies generating good quality 1x used cardboard boxes perfectly capable of reuse, and with many businesses concurrently looking to find good quality suppliers of 1x used cardboard boxes as alternative to having to pay up & buy new boxes.

As part of our eco supply chain sustainability program, our GearedforGreen network connects companies and industries matching used cardboard box suppliers and buyers, helping everyone in the supply chain improve economic, environmental, and productivity ROI.

Many companies involved in manufacturing receive parts and components delivered in cardboard boxes they use just 1x. Many other companies including retailers and distributors use huge amounts of cardboard boxes to send products inter-company between facilities and to trading partners. There is a substantial reuse marketplace for all these 1x used cardboard boxes. Managing the connection between the two is no easy task however, so we partnered with industry to maximize box reuse ROI making cardboard box 📦 reuse valuable and mainstream.

In terms of environmental benefit and ROI, reusing cardboard boxes versus recycling reduces carbon footprint 👣 CO2 substantially and requires far less resources including water and energy consumption. Clients participating in GearedforGreen “Pack Share” box reuse programs also get monthly environmental reports including Life Cycle Assessment documentation showing carbon savings, which are helpful to sustainability score cards. For those businesses looking to reduce their carbon footprint, cardboard box reuse is a great option.

In terms of man hour productivity benefits and ROI, reusing cardboard boxes versus recycling reduces man hours by $30.00 per ton on average associated with reduced labor and handling not having to bale cardboard boxes, and reduced movement from 3 touch points down to 1 touch point, not having to triple handle boxes from generation point to baler to trailer.

In terms of economic benefits and ROI, reusing cardboard boxes versus recycling increases revenue for suppliers in our network 40%-60% on average over the last 5 years, reduces customer cost of boxes in our network by 25%-30% on average over the last 5 years, and provides a far more consistent dependable market as a result of getting fixed annual prices for box reuse instead of fluctuating OBM prices for recycling. Box reuse programs also reduce transportation cost, reduce labor cost, and reduce equipment cost associated with baling.

The infrastructure and client base to support large expansion

in the cardboard box reuse market is significant. 

To serve the growing box reuse market, GearedforGreen eco-supply chain network focuses on four (4) areas; warehousing collection sortation, logistics transportation service, environmental CSR compliance documentation, and circular supply chain partner expansion.

  • Today we host 30+ regional sorting collection facilities throughout the United States providing local warehouse collection / sortation / quality control resources for suppliers and customers in our “Pack Share” box reuse network.
  • We provide full transportation logistics services including drop trailer programs at more than 250 facilities across America.
  • We provide monthly CSR environmental reports documenting carbon footprint saving.
  • To support the growing demand for reliable box reuse nationwide, GearedforGreen eco supply chain partnerships include the largest network of collection, sortation, quality control providers, and end user customers making us the largest network for 1x used cardboard boxes in America.

It is widely known that sustainability and circular supply chain initiatives can reduce cost, add efficiency, increase innovation, and strengthen and improve supply chain partnerships. Leading businesses worldwide are incorporating circular sustainable supply chains into their operations quickly.

Less known yet equally important, sustainability can significantly improve customer-consumer relationships leading to improved brand value and top line revenue.  By effectively communicating your sustainability initiatives, businesses can leverage their sustainability in the market to gain significant advantages. We urge all our clients to engage in consumer facing eco brand initiatives that connect with consumers.

To learn more about our GearedforGreen eco-supply chain sustainability services and how our “Pack Share” Cardboard Box Reuse program increases your economic, environmental, and productivity ROI, please contact us at 888-398-GEAR (4327), info@gearedforgreen.com, or visit us at www.gearedforgreen.com.

 By Daniel Schrager, President at GearedforGreen 888-398 (GEAR) 4327, info@gearedforgreen.com, www.gearedforgreen.com