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PROGRAMS page 39




N P r PE e - 20 Se e D r 18 st or aw y pa

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The most comprehensive analysis of plastics’ leading role in an innovation revolution. Plastics are one of the most used materials on a volume basis in U.S. industrial and commercial life. The plastics industry as a whole is the third largest segment of the overall U.S. manufacturing sector, and supports 940,000 American jobs. SPI has created a unique report series exploring key factors—including demographics, economics, policy, and technology—that impact the industry’s key end markets (Automotive & Transportation, Healthcare & Medical Devices, Packaging, Building and Construction, Automotive Recycling and Bioplastics).




stics Biopla


NOW AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD: Bioplastics Bioplastics are plastics that either originate from renewable resource, are biodegradable, or are both. As new applications and technologies are developed, bioplastics represent an evolution within the plastics marketplace and have become a part of the plastics growth story.


Sign up for a complimentary copy today. : ation ke inform More lasticsmar .p www marketwatch These issues are also available online: ¡¡Automotive ¡¡Building


and Construction

¡¡Packaging ¡¡Healthcare

& Medical Devices


& Transportation

spı magazıne THE

FALL 2016

Letter from the President There isn’t much we don’t touch here in the plastics industry. In our daily lives, whether you live in a small rural town or a bustling city, no one walks too far before they bump into something plastic, or something that depends on plastic. I think that’s part of what makes working in this industry so exciting, for me at least. Every day, the men and women of the U.S. plastics industry put their time, knowledge and commitment to good use contributing to making products that make much of modern living possible, whether people notice it or not. They get to go home knowing that they were an integral part of a process that keeps our lights on (LEDs, wiring), provides Internet access and power to billions of people (plastic insulation on wiring), makes a child smile (toys), makes a plane fly (electrical connections, weight-reducing composites), makes sick patients healthy (medical devices) and performs so many other functions that this entire magazine could be filled cover to cover with examples and still barely scratch the surface of what plastic materials and products do for all of us, every day. Before I joined SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, I ran a global plastics machinery company that manufactured injection molding machines. This equipment, after it left our facilities, went on to other producers to manufacture products that did many different things for many different people. In my capacity now as the president and CEO of SPI, I have the honor of representing the men and women who contribute so much to our society that we take for granted through the plastics industry. There are nearly one million plastics professionals in the United States, and today many young people have the chance to join their ranks by taking the leap into a fulfilling career in plastics. In this issue of the SPI magazine, released in conjunction with our first-ever Plastics Education and Career Fair, our cover story focuses on the people behind just a few interesting products that people come across every day that couldn’t exist without plastic. From toys that spark a child’s imagination to tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, medical devices that improve patients’ lives, wearable electronics and insulation for wires that make the digital world go round, these products all depend on plastic materials, and the people who design, manufacture, market, sell and ship them. We hope these innovators’ stories inspire younger professionals today to consider a career in plastics, and encourage current plastics professionals to tell the stories of their products and the people that make them. Other articles touch on topics related to workforce development, including a spotlight on one company’s industry-leading apprenticeship program that other companies can draw from, the public’s misconceptions about today’s plastics industry and the work plastics companies are doing to improve the environment. Most of all, this magazine shares the perspectives of a number of plastics professionals, in the hopes that it inspires future generations to lend their voices to this industry that touches all of our lives. Sincerely,

William R. Carteaux SPI President & CEO

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association


Mia Freis Quinn Editorial Staff

Jacob Barron Delphine Gisagara Ashley Stoney Contributing Writers

Russell Broome

Suzanne Morgan

Marie Gargas

David Palmer

Robert Helminiak

Ashley Stoney

Kim Holmes

Executive Staff

President & CEO William R. Carteaux Chief Financial Officer Ashley Bovino EVP Advocacy Jon Kurrle SVP Industry Affairs Patty Long SVP Membership and Business Development Mark Garrison Vice President Communications Mia Freis Quinn General Counsel Kiran Mand Design


© 2016 SPI 1425 K Street, NW, Suite 500 Washington DC 20005 (202) 974–5200 fax (202) 296–7005

Have a great story to tell? Share it with us at

3  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

Contents The SPI Magazine Fall 2016


I Made That! page 5





page 10

page 14

page 25

page 39

? INSIDE SPI 17 SPI—Movers and Shakers


18 Member Spotlight—Genarex

29 Legislative Victories: A Collaborative Effort by the Plastics Industry

20 Pursuing Plastics in Academia with SPE

31 Plastics Champions Bring Industry Message to Capitol Hill

22 Fostering the Future—SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Rolls Out Mentorship Program



34 Manufacturing Day 2016 36 Invest in Your Industry and Your Career at GPS

42 SPI Business Benefits Directory

37 Record-Breaking NPE2018 Pre-Draw Results Show Plastics Industry Investing Heavily in Future Growth 38 SPI Event Calendar

4  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association




Professionals in the plastics industry across the world take pride in knowing just how much they contribute to everyday tasks Here are just a few stories about those professionals, and the products they make.  

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

5  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

COVER S TORY Jaco b Barro n   |   Ma na ge r, Communic a tions, SPI


ost people never consider just how much of their life is made possible by plastic products.

From how you prepare food to how you store it, from how you spend your workday to how you spend your leisure time, from how you maintain your relationships with others to how you take care of your own body, no one has to go very far in today’s world to find a product that they depend on that also depends on plastic.


Professionals in the plastics industry across the world take pride in knowing just how much they contribute to these everyday tasks. Here are just a few stories about those professionals, and the products they make. TOYS

When you think of toys, the first material that comes to mind is probably plastic. This is for many reasons, like the fact that plastic is more durable, affordable and non-toxic. For K’NEX, however, the colorful construction toys that enable kids to build planes, cars, tracks, bridges and anything else they can imagine, even if another material made sense (and it doesn’t), the nature of the toy actually demands that it be plastic. “In order for K’NEX to work you need to be able to snap and unsnap it,” said Michael Araten, CEO of K’NEX. “There’s only the plastic materials that have memory associated with them, that allow snapping and unsnapping along with the precision that you need,” he added. “K’NEX couldn’t exist as a product without plastic.” The “memory” Araten refers to? Plastic materials can return to their original shape after they’ve been manipulated. K’NEX’s appeal is users being able to build and dismantle things over and over again. So, the pieces need to be both precise and flexible, two equally important qualities that ultimately disqualify a lot of materials from being used in K’NEX and other toys. “That’s one of the reasons why metal doesn’t work, and it wouldn’t work with wood,” Araten said. 6  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

Longevity is also key. “It was important to drill down into that point, and make sure that you’d be able to do that for a decade or more,” Araten said, “that you’d be able to give these to your little brother and sister when you grew up.” K’NEX’s goal was to create a toy that could inspire imagination in more than one generation of kids, the kind of imagination and STEM-focused thinking that the plastics industry and other American manufacturers are looking for in potential new hires. “Kids can have fun while learning the geometry of physics, and they can build a roller coaster and see why you don’t fall out,” Araten said. “That kind of thing inspires kids to become engineers and programmers and all the kinds of wonderful technology-based jobs that now will dominate the rest of this decade and, I think, the rest of this century.”


Some readers that aren’t currently part of the plastics industry might not know what micro-injection molding is. Come to mention it, they might not even know what regular injection molding is, but put simply, it’s a way that molten plastic is pushed into a previously designed mold. The molten plastic cools, then comes out of the machine as a usable plastic component, to be used in any number of different applications. Micro-injection molding, you might’ve guessed, is injection molding that takes place on a much smaller scale, sometimes even a microscopic scale.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



This technique is vital in producing parts that are meant to operate seamlessly and unseen, like in a pacemaker that ensures a patient’s heart keeps beating regularly. Tony Codet is the owner of Unit Industries, Inc. and they make a key component that goes into pacemakers that help regulate people’s heartbeats, ensuring that they keep going and keep blood pumping the way they should. The component his company makes is a vital one, meaning these pacemakers wouldn’t function without it. “It’s very challenging to make,” Codet said, noting that manufacturing such a specific, vital part requires a certain level of precision and training in workers that goes well beyond what many people think of when they think of jobs in manufacturing. “It requires very unique employees. Only high-precision people can create those parts, people with very precise hands and precise vision,” he said. “The role of the people is so unique to this part.” Codet noted that there’s a great deal of training involved in preparing employees to build these parts, but that makes sense. It takes time but those workers building those parts know they’re part of a product that keeps thousands of hearts beating every day, and that’s certainly not something everyone can say.

“Our outdoor tile has a little movement in it,” Davenport said. “So when you go to do a hard break and change direction, you get a little flex, and your joints don’t have to take all of what you would feel on concrete,” he added, noting that the company hosted a 3-on-3 basketball tournament to let people test out their material. Davenport’s been with the company since the beginning, noting that “we launched this company in three months.” Finding the right people, he added, was key to the company’s success. “I had to find plastics professionals, so I reached out to people that I knew in the industry,” he said. “I don’t think I could’ve done it without the network and community of plastics people that I knew.” Now the company is growing, and moving into a larger facility, and Davenport wants to expand the company’s outreach to new workers. “We’re trying to be on the cutting edge, and do new things and keep the job exciting,” he said. “It’s a great career, and you don’t have to spend $300,000 to go to school for it.”


Playing basketball, tennis or any other sport on concrete is becoming less and less common these days, thanks to the plastics industry. One innovative company, CH3 makes a product called VersaCourt that’s begun to replace harder athletic surfaces with a softer plastic material. CH3 provides the courts with a lifetime warranty and it’s designed to go in right on top of an existing court, saving a great deal on installation for any venue or municipality that might want to upgrade their recreational courts. “With concrete, they usually have to replace them, or repaint them or the surface will crack over time,” said Rodney Davenport of CH3. “Our product goes over the concrete, gives it a look and you can paint it with any color or add any custom logos to it.” Not only does it perform as well as its concrete counterpart; it’s easier to repair, easier to clean or replace and easier to play on. Since the material that goes into the tiles is softer than concrete, it creates a great deal less strain on players’ knees, ensuring that they can keep playing for much longer with less of a risk of injury.


Now CH3 is growing, and moving into a larger facility, and Davenport wants to expand the company’s outreach to new workers. “We’re trying to be on the cutting edge, and do new things and keep the job exciting,” he said. “It’s a great career, and you don’t have to spend $300,000 to go to school for it.”


SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

7  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016




Speaking of athletic activity, wearable activity trackers that can measure your heart rate, sleep habits and number of steps taken are increasingly popular. They’ve gone from being isolated to the realm of only the most-tech savvy consumers to something more mainstream, and this isn’t expected to stop any time soon. According to a 2014 report by Citigroup, the market for wearable technology could grow to $30 billion in the coming years, meaning more smartwatches and activity trackers will need to be designed, made and sold as demand increases. As you might’ve guessed, most of these items are made of plastics.


According to Plastics News, SPI-Member PolyOne Corp. ramped up its GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs) for growth in the consumer electronics market, and specifically for wearables, a few years ago. The company introduced a new material, called Versaflex CE, that bonds to polycarbonate and blends of acrylonitrile

butadiene styrene (ABS—also the material that most LEGOs are made of) that are often used in consumer electronics. These qualities, along with the fact that Versaflex resists scratches and exposure to chemicals (like sunscreen) that come into contact with something worn on someone’s wrist, make it perfect for use as a wristband for these devices. “Our mission is to create advanced material solutions that keep up with the next generation of consumer electronics,” said Michelle Hearn, global marketing director, PolyOne GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers. “Our wide range of material technologies allow us to develop a specific solution based on the precise requirements for an application.”

Again, the fact that plastics are durable, flexible, lightweight and water resistant, as well as comfortable, make them ideal for another new segment of the constantly changing world of consumer technology. Plastics companies and workers make the components and the materials that make these products a reality day in and day out. ELECTRICITY, THE INTERNET AND MOST EVERYTHING ELSE

There are millions of miles of wires put to use in myriad functions around the world, and nearly all of them are able to operate safely and effectively because they’re protected by plastic materials. Think about the way that a TV show makes its way into your living room. A plastic-insulated HDMI cable probably runs from your television to a cable box, which has a similarly insulated coaxial cable connecting it to the wall, where the cable company transmits the particular television program you’re watching at any given moment. Think about the way you read news on the Internet. Your service provider might rent you a modem, which draws the signal from the aforementioned cable connection, or from another fiber-optic source. The modem then connects to a router, via another set of wires cocooned in plastic, that creates a wifi network in your house.


Even if you read news or emails on your cellphone, think about how you charge it. A set of wires that’s most likely wrapped in plastic material connects your phone to a plug in the wall, which connects a series of other plastic-insulated wires to a power source, that’s connected even further to the power company, again, most likely through wires encased in plastic.

8  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



The reason why plastic is so popular for this function is that it’s durable, it’s moldable, it’s flexible and it delivers a great deal of value for the price. Previously wires were wrapped in fabric, which, while flexible, is also flammable. The increases in voltage and overall strain that are placed on modern wiring systems ultimately made clothwrapped wiring go the way of the dodo, as to keep using it would be to doom users to a lifetime of putting out actual fires. Power would run through the wires, the wires would heat up, they’d catch fire, and then they’d put not only what they were transmitting at risk, but also the appliances they were transmitting to and the people by whom they were being used. Plastic wrapping on wires can withstand the heat that cloth wrapping can’t, which is at least partially why its use in wiring applications is only expected to continue. Consumers and tech innovators are increasingly asking wires to do more than just transmit data or a small amount of power. New wires that are being installed to transmit power are also being asked to transmit data through the same cord. The wires that transmit data want to be able to transmit power too (think about connecting your laptop to both the internet and to a power source through one cable— that’s what’s next). This, one might be able to guess, generates more strain on the wires themselves, and that strain creates heat, enough of which could start fires. That’s why cables need to be properly insulated with a plastic material that’s durable enough to handle the strain of the modern consumer’s and modern builder’s demands.

current and next generation high speed interconnect cables,” said Dan Kennefick, a business development executive at Daikin. The material is extremely inert, has excellent electrical properties, high chemical stability, low friction, excellent long term weathering and very good low temperature properties; all characteristics that make it ideal for insulating wires and ensuring they operate reliably and safely. Efforts to move away from plastic materials as a wrapping for wire have been difficult. Some auto manufacturers attempted to replace the plastic-protected wiring in their vehicles with a soy-based alternative, but users found that rodents regularly eat the soy-based wire wrapping, and ultimately end up damaging the vehicle. Time and time again, plastic wiring insulation has proven itself as the superior protective coating. The people who get to make this insulation get to go home every day, do the same things that you do (watch TV, cruise the internet, use their microwave, etc.), and know that they work for a company that makes all those things happen, all around the world, every day. How many people can say that? ¥

One such material is Daikin’s Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP), a polymer that’s perfect for the kind of next generation wiring that’s increasingly being put to use in today’s applications. The material itself maintains a continuous service temperature up to 200 degrees Celsius. “Daikin’s FEP increases the safety, and data handling capability of

The material is extremely inert, has excellent electrical properties, high chemical stability, low friction, excellent long term weathering and very good low temperature properties; all characteristics that make it ideal for insulating wires and ensuring they operate reliably and safely. DAN KENNEFICK, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE AT DAIKIN AMERICA, INSPECTS HIGH SPEED DATA CENTER INTERCONNECT CABLE MADE WITH DAIKIN FEP.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

9  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


By Ki m Ho lme s  |   Se nior Dire c tor, R e c yc ling a nd Dive rsion, SPI

My Journey: Designing A Meaningful Career in Plastics



rom the age of 12, I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I was going to have a job with meaning. I would contribute in

a valuable way to society. Maybe I would even help shape history. Yes, my sights were set on being an archaeologist.

I set my course, read archaeology magazines all through high school, and went off to college with intention. And I’m happy to report that I indeed lived that dream for about three years; excavating, drawing stratigraphies, and cleaning and labeling artifacts in a lab while completing my undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and History, and then for about a year after graduation. I took my GREs and planned to apply for a PhD program at UC Berkeley. I was firmly on that course I’d set 10 years earlier, until one

10  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

day the luster of that idealized career cracked a little. Maybe it was one too many 100°, steamy mid-Atlantic summer days, or the poison ivy, ticks or copperhead snakes we regularly encountered. But I remember the day I reached the sobering realization that I was working for an underpaid, adjunct professor who was living in primitive, seasonal housing on the Manassas National Battlefield where we were excavating. And once those rose colored glasses were off, I realized there was nothing unique about this situation, this was the norm.

I was young. I was idealistic. But, I was not stupid. I decided the course I’d charted might need a correction. At this point if you would have told me that correction would lead me to the plastics industry, I would have told you to avoid any career that involved making projections. After all, I still wanted a career with meaning. So I did what every 22 year old in an existential crisis should do. I hopped in the car for a 6,000 mile road trip to figure out literally what exit would put me on that new course.

Thus began a chain of events putting me on the road to a career in plastics. The path was a meandering winding one, with a beginning rooted in recycling. I began down this career path in earnest when I was in graduate school at Portland State University. This year, I’m going on 14 years working on recycling and sustainability issues, with five of those exclusively in plastics. And I can absolutely say the meaning I’d hoped my career would have, and that impact that I wanted to make has been fulfilled working in the plastics industry.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association




My career goals are not unlike many of those of millennials entering the workforce. Now, I’m not a Millennial. I’m a Gen X’er. However, I’m fairly sure my life experiences, priorities and aspirations are very similar to that of the older millennials. Therefore, I guess I’m on somewhat borrowed authority to speak for millennials, but the good news is, the research does back me up on my assumptions. According to an article in Forbes magazine last year, millennials have three key professional priorities:

¡¡ “Flexibility in schedule and work arrangement, measuring success by output rather than time in the office.”

¡¡ “Millennials don’t just want to spend their time earning a paycheck; they want to invest time acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to grow both personally and professionally.”

The first criterion of the spec is Quality of work vs. Quantity. In production and R&D jobs, accommodating remote work arrangements and highly-flexible work schedules can be difficult. Equipment needs to run on-site and tests cannot be performed without proper lab equipment. However, non-technical jobs, of which there are many in the plastics industry, can at times afford a level of flexibility. Many employers are recognizing flexibility is key for younger generations working to create balance with work and home life. Many employers offer teleworking flexibility either on a regular, or as needed basis. I’ve heard about countless examples of SPI member employees working with their employees to find that balance and flexibility. Achieving this balance requires honest communication from both the employer and the employee.

¡¡ “Millennials place importance on social causes and a sense of purpose” and “The second aspect is the purpose of the company. How does the company relate to the wider world, and what good does it contribute? Does the company’s concern with social responsibility match theirs? In this year’s Deloitte Millennial Survey, six in 10 respondents said ‘sense of purpose’ is part of the reason they chose their current employer.”

In this year’s Deloitte Millennial Survey, six in 10 respondents said ‘sense of purpose’ is part of the reason they chose their current employer.


Do millennials need to look to emerging industries to meet their career priorities? Or can a well-established industry, a true manufacturing institution like the plastics industry, meet the priorities and career goals of the next generation? To evaluate this in terms familiar to the industry, let’s think of this set of criteria outlined in the Forbes article as the career spec for millennials.


SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

11  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016



Personally, it has been the quest for the right work situation at each stage of my life which has led me to the position I currently hold at SPI. Kids, relationships and responsibilities can all impact how we perform our work. If life situations change, be open and honest about your needs. Employers are often very willing to accommodate changing life situations for valued employees either for a period of time, or in some cases long-term. Employers are increasingly realizing that even if how the work is performed changes, in many cases it does not impact the quality of the work that is performed. And in many cases that flexibility may increase quality, productivity and employee loyalty. The second criterion of the millennial career spec is that the career offers both professional and personal growth. From the largest global chemical companies to small, family run processors, you will find a huge range of diversity in the types of companies in the plastics industry. And, the opportunities found in these companies can be equally diverse. There are many examples of machine operators or salespeople that have been able to climb the professional latter to take charge of some of the most influential companies in our industry. Regardless of whether you start at a big company or a small one, the experience you gain is very likely directly translatable to the next company you choose to work for. Many times professional growth opportunities can be found within your own company. The data gathered for SPI’s 2015 Sustainability Progress Report suggest employers are very willing to cultivate the talents of their work force. Also, because many companies in the plastics industry are small-, and medium-sized companies, employees often wear multiple hats. A marketing manager might also be responsible for labeling compliance, which gives exposure to regulatory issues. Or the

operations manager might also take on sustainability and zero waste initiatives. Involvement in trade associations, like SPI, allows employees from many areas of the organization to meet colleagues in similar roles at other companies, network and access further professional development opportunities. For the final, and perhaps most important part of the Millennial professional spec, let’s explore the sense of purpose. This is one that I personally cannot compromise. Ironically, it might be the best benefit of working for the plastics industry, but it is the one that is the least readily apparent to millennials. I will touch on three opportunity areas that personally bring me tremendous satisfaction. 1. Environmental sustainability. This certainly may not be an attribute that the average consumer associates with the plastics industry. However, when you look into the life cycle data, plastics offer huge environmental benefits over alternative materials. The United Nations predicts that the global population will swell to over 9.7 billion people by 2050 and the rate of consumption will continue to grow as the middle class expands in developing nations. Plastics have a very low environmental footprint in the manufacturing and use phases compared to other materials, which will help ease some of the resource demands and constraints we will face. Marine debris and responsible product management at end of use are very important issues. While challenges in these two areas have unfortunately shaped the general perception of our industry, it is a very exciting and pivotal time to work on addressing these challenges. Companies are engaging recycling/recovery and marine debris issues at many levels and need employees with a passion and understanding of environmental issues to drive us toward success.


To Full-Time, Salaried Employees

To Full-Time, Hourly Employees

To Part-Time and/or Temporary, Employees

On-site technical training





On-site business development opportunities (software training, etc.)





Education reimbursement (technical schools, community college, universities)





Training modules that employees can do at their own pace





Access to off-site conferences, trainings and seminars





Encourage employees to participate in industry organizations









Professional Development Offered

Other, Health and Wellness Programs with Financial incentives

Source: 2015 Sustainability Progress Report, SPI

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SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association




2. Quality of life improvements. People are an important part of the sustainability equation. Nearly every quality of life improvement we have enjoyed in the last century involves plastics. From safer automobiles, to modern medical care, technology advances and increased access to information— they’ve developed thanks to plastics. Plastic products add tremendous value to our lives and, from that, industry employees can take much pride and satisfaction. 3. Innovation. I’m a sci-fi geek. I grew up watching Star Trek every Saturday evening. I love facility tours. Neil deGrasse Tyson is my idol. I could read about technology, innovation and scientific exploration all day long, and they are the modern frontiers. I can’t think of a single week that has gone by in the last five years that I haven’t read about an amazing new innovation that simply could not have been accomplished without plastics in some way. From new ways to make plastics including from carbon captured from the atmosphere, to medical advances like adjustable and customizable prosthetics for children and artificial corneas, to satellites and probes

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

exploring the farthest reaches of our universe, people in the plastics industry are innovating. If that idea isn’t exciting enough on its own, it is this innovation that will continue to shape our society and drive cultural change across the globe. So, perhaps the trajectory of my professional career has landed me not that far from my original target after all. Maybe my purpose has not been to shape history by digging through the past. Rather, as part of the plastics industry, I’m helping to shape the future. I do believe when I reach that point of eventual retirement in another 25 or 30 years, I will look back on a life well spent in this industry, as many others have before me. ¥

Maybe my purpose has not been to shape history by digging through the past. Rather, as part of the plastics industry, I’m helping to shape the future.

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By D avi d Pa lme r  |   Dire c tor, I nd ustry Affa irs—Eq uip me nt Counc il, SPI

Designing Machinery for Safety


hile most Americans might broadly






turing to the economic wellbeing of the U.S., many don’t think much more about the sector, or imagine a career in manufacturing. Manufac-

turers recognize this and have focused on telling the world what manufacturing really is (as well as what it’s not) and the exciting career opportunities available. The path to a career in manufacturing today is cleaner, safer and available to a larger part of the population than ever before. As schools increasingly focus on math and science subjects and expose more students to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, more and more people are advancing in educational fields that can be applied to manufacturing. These skills are beneficial to the manufacturing sector and to the workers who will eventually operate these facilities, and they’ve opened up thousands of new jobs for workers looking for a stable, fulfilling and, most of all, safe career path. THE NEW STORY

A modern plastics facility is typically clean, organized and full of highly trained, highly capable individuals from all walks of life making a career in manufacturing. It’s loaded with advanced equipment that, in many cases, is on the very cutting edge of modern technology. Facilities and production lines are masterfully, expertly arranged by company leaders to increase efficiency, ensure product quality and increase customer service. SPI, on behalf of the plastics industry, works to help educate people about manufacturing while also helping to provide information

14  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

to the industry so that work environments are safe and healthy for employees. Everyone should feel safe in their work environments and should have confidence in equipment and processes, their employers, and themselves to do the best job they can and produce the highest-quality products possible. That’s why for many years, SPI and volunteers from its member companies have collaborated in developing resources to help employers achieve the goal of employee safety above all. There’s more than one group within SPI, and within the plastics industry, geared toward supporting plastics companies and equipping them with the information they need to provide and sustain safe, healthy work environments. One key group among those is the SPI Machinery Safety Standards Committee, which assists in the development of standards for the manufacture, operation and maintenance of plastics processing machinery. Federal and state legislatures and agencies create requirements for employers and manufacturers to protect workers and the consumer public. Machinery standards help to protect manufacturers and their employees, both physically and financially, by providing guidance and information on industry-accepted practices to safely build and operate machinery. The programs, standards and guidance that SPI puts forth help make employees at plastics companies safer.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association




For the U.S. plastics industry, SPI is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited standards-writing body, and maintains a robust program that’s administered through SPI’s Equipment Council, which is made up of the companies that make the machines themselves. Before a machine even enters production, it’s first designed with safety in mind. A whole network of safety standards, again, put forth and managed by the people who know this equipment best, guides the creation of these machines and ensures that the employee who will eventually operate it knows how to use the machine properly, and can do so safely. One safety standard that very effectively protects workers (out of literally thousands of standards among various industries) is the plastics industry’s new ANSI/SPI B151.1, which combines two previously separate safety standards into one that covers both horizontal and vertical injection molding machines. Some background: there are two types of injection molding machines that are used to manufacture most of the world’s plastics products— horizontal and vertical. In injection molding, two sides of a mold clamp together while a screw and barrel assembly injects molten plastic into the mold. The clamp remains closed tightly while the plastic enters the mold and quickly cools, having taken on the shape of the mold itself. The clamp separates and the product is removed from the machine in one of several ways: by another machine designed to

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

remove the finished product, allowing it to fall out of the machine onto a conveyor belt, or an employee manually removing the product from the machine. Horizontally-oriented machines are designed so that gravity naturally keeps most human interactions with the machines safe. However, vertically-oriented machines need more safety assurances. And the new ANSI/SPI B151.1 standard requires that vertical injection molding machines continue to include a “jam bar,” a mechanical device that prevents the machine from closing while anything is in the clamp enclosure area. There’s a deep level of detail that goes into these standards to prevent harm to the people who operate and maintain these machines, and development of these standards requires a great deal of effort by individuals in the industry. But it is a necessary effort to ensure employees’ safety. Standards are periodically reviewed, revised and updated by SPI and other members of the plastics and associated industries, so that they reflect current manufacturing technology and techniques and can be effectively applied to machines in all facilities. Put simply, safety is a top priority for the plastics industry, so much so that a whole infrastructure of safety standards exists around every piece of manufacturing equipment and every manufacturing process that employees use. It’s just one indicator of how strongly the plastics industry values its workers and their safety. Plastics leaders believe that career opportunities and workplace safety go together. ¥

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Safety Spotlight: Tracking Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Incidence rates are the calculations that describe the number of recordable injuries and illnesses for a number of full-time workers over a period of time. You know your site’s rates compared to any other sites in your company, and to other sites in the plastics industry if you participate in SPI’s Safety Statistics and Awards (SSA) Program. But what’s the current picture across the industry, and how might that be impacted by a new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)? For benchmarking purposes, you’re likely familiar with data

B y Ma rie Ga rga s Se nior Te c hnic a l Dire c tor—Environme nt He a lth & Sa fe ty, SPI

from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Survey of Occupational Injuries and I l l n e s s e s , w h i c h p ro v i d e s incidence rates by industry, for various establishment size categories, and for different case types. You can compare your rates to those of others whose job functions and workforce size are similar—e.g., for the total number of cases, or for those that resulted in days away from work, restricted work activity, and/or job transfer. Below, we can see just a sample of total incidence rates across all sizes of establishments (See the table below):

Next year, data from thousands of additional workplaces will be publicly available as a result of OSHA’s final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, and will also likely be used for benchmarking purposes. OSHA has said it intends to use the data to guide allocation of its compliance assistance and enforcement resources. The potential impacts remain to be seen. Here and now, there are opportunities to improve occupational safety and health performance and drive the numbers and rates of injuries and illness within the

Incidence rate and number of nonfatal occupational injuries by industry and ownership, 2014 Industry

NAICS1 code

All industries incl. state and local government2


Manufacturing Chemical manufacturing

Average incidence rates for all establishments: (mean) 3.6



Plastics material and resin manufacturing



Custom compounding of purchased resin



Plastics products manufacturing Plastics bottle manufacturing Plastics packaging film and sheet (incl. laminated) manufacturing

3261 32616 326112

4.4 2.9 3.1

See full table from BLS for industry segments in addition to those having the two lowest and two highest rates at Polystyrene foam manufacturing Plastics pipe and fitting manufacturing

32614 326122

5.8 6.1

Industrial machinery manufacturing



Industrial mold manufacturing



Recyclable material merchant wholesalers



plastics industry toward zero, particularly with increasing emphasis on safety, sustainability and attracting a skilled workforce. Incidence rates, as we know, illustrate the past and are not necessarily indicators of current or future safety performance. Companies continue to have strong commitments to safety, going above and beyond what OSHA requires of them to ensure that their facilities are as safe as possible. But safety is everyone’s job, and it’s an area where there will always be room for improvement. With the leadership of EHS+ and the plastics industry’s unwavering commitment to worker safety, we will keep working toward making zero incidences of workplace illnesses or injuries the norm, at every facility in the country. SPI’s EHS+ Committee provides leadership, guidance and support to bring about continual improvement in worker safety, as well as environmental and product regulatory performance, in the plastics industry. From developing industry resources, to engaging with agencies like OSHA on rulemaking and other activities, the committee provides a forum to exchange information and ideas across every segment of the value chain. If you’re an SPI member, we encourage you to get involved. Please email to learn more. ¥

1  North American Industry Classification System 2  Excludes farms with fewer than 11 employees

16  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



SPI—Movers and Shakers


In June, SPI welcomed Mary Cecile Neville as the organization’s new senior director of marketing. Neville has nearly 20 years of experience in marketing and trade shows and came to SPI from SnowSports Industries America (SIA), producer of the annual Snow Show, the largest trade event in the snow sports industry. Earlier this year, while with SIA, she received the Trending 40 Award for Association and Non-Profit Innovators. Neville will now put her track record of innovation and creative marketing solutions to use ensuring the success of SPI’s events and trade shows, including NPE2018: The Plastics Show.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association


Kiran Mand was appointed SPI’s first-ever general counsel in May. Mand advises the organization on corporate strategy and leads SPI’s internal governance while proactively addressing risks to the organization. Her arrival at SPI marks her return to Washington, D.C. where she began her career as an associate and managing a t t o r n e y, re s p e c t i v e l y, a t Whiteford, Taylor and Preston LLP and KBM Law Group LLC. Most recently Mand practiced corporate law at Gap, Inc. and 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc. in San Francisco, Calif.



SPI welcomed Ashley Stoney in March as its new director of communications. Stoney leads media relations for SPI and manages both executive communications and SPI’s s o c i a l m e d i a o u t re a c h . A Washington, D.C. native, Stoney earned her Bachelor of Arts from Howard University. She joins SPI after previously working for Widmeyer Communications and global public relations firm Ketchum prior to that, where she helped clients such as Dr. Pepper, Snapple Group, Mott’s and Clorox with their messaging strategies.

After serving as SPI’s advocacy assistant, and its advocacy and communications assistant before that, in May 2016 SPI promoted Brennan Georgianni t o a d v o c a c y c o o r d i n a t o r. Georgianni supports the SPI Advocacy team and works with SPI members and staff to ensure pro-plastics legislative outcomes on Capitol Hill. He began his career in advocacy interning for former Congressman John Campbell (R-CA) and is p u r su i n g a Masters in Public Policy from George Mason University.

17  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016



Member Spotlight Digging into a Space Dominated by Giants: A Conversation with Bob Montgomery from Genarex, a Bioplastics Startup The U.S. plastics industry is growing and welcoming new companies into its ranks each and every day. Genarex, a new SPI member that makes bioplastics from industrial and agricultural wastes, is one such company. We spoke to Bob Montgomery, Genarex’s vice president of sales and product development, about what it’s like to found and work for a company that’s just setting out on its own sustainability journey.


It’s a little bit over two years old now, started in 2014 as a manufacturer of bio-based fillers for plastics. So we take typically industrial wastes that are usually corn based and we can convert them to higher-level products for the plastics industry and do so through a host of different modifications, filtrations and various technologies to select the most valuable species that we can incorporate into the plastic segment at low cost, bio-based content and not change the end-of-life strategies for the end user.

costs, and suffered a lot as oil costs dropped dramatically. We HOW DID GENAREX GET STARTED?

Our company was formed from a group of individuals that came together from different segments, so of course I come from the plastics industry myself and then we have people from the energy business, people with a lot of logistics and supply chain experience, as well as strategic builders that can make devices at low costs and mechanisms to convert some of those low cost components that we would not otherwise

From the waste streams of industrial bio-based feed we were able to extract value, but we had to find out how to monetize it which is why we pulled in expertise from these different segments to find a way to keep the cost low and maximize the value that we brought to the customers in the plastic segment. 18  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

have access to. From the waste streams of industrial bio-based feed we were able to extract value, but we had to find out how to monetize it which is why we pulled in expertise from these different segments to find a way to keep the cost low and maximize the value that we brought to the customers in the plastic segment. Our first venture out was focusing on the low temperature products that typically are bio-based already so we looked at biodegradable plastics and products that are biodegradable under certain conditions (such as industrial composting) and resin systems such as Polybutylene Succinate (PBS), Polybutyrate (PBAT) and Polylactic Acid (PLA). Materials like those were already at higher

also found that we do have a play in the polyolefin market where customers have mixed feed streams, meaning they’re not able to recycle a product, and they want to create a more sustainable, long-term solution for their customers. Introducing bio-based content helps them, particularly if it can be added at a low cost, so we’ve seen everything from bio-based films to traditional polyolefin conversions such as profile extrusion and projection molding. In terms of plastics industry segments, I would say that we’ve focused on agricultural and industrial, building and construction, tight spaces where cost is a primary driver, but there are also large OEMs that have a real motivation to create a sustainable solution.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association




Seven employees.

The organization, because we are so small, demands a ton of versatility from anyone. At a given point any one of the people on board needs to have the ability to make decisions whether it’s a financial decision, a strategic decision, or a technical decision. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE ONE OF SEVEN EMPLOYEES AT A PLASTICS COMPANY?

The organization, because we are so small, demands a ton of versatility from anyone. At a given point any one of the people on board needs to have the ability to make decisions whether it’s a financial decision, a strategic decision, or a technical decision. However, as we look down the road we certainly have specific backgrounds and strengths that set different people within the organization apart and we’ll look to further segment people as we get larger and grow and develop our team further to be able to expand into research and sales. Those would be the next two places we invest in. Manufacturing is going to be another major need. HAS THE COMPANY THOUGHT ABOUT EMPLOYEE TRAINING AND EMPLOYEE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES? LIKE HOW TO GET AND RETAIN EMPLOYEES?

I think that is still a little bit far in front of us because of how small we are. Right now the roles are so agile that it demands that we all wear 45 different hats. And we know specifically what we will need and so I think early on the first hires that we take on will be for roles that are extremely specific and we will be looking to improve our strength in those areas—whether it be research and development, sales, or manufacturing—we are going to be looking for people that are experienced and ready to go. As with any company, as we get further down and more significantly removed from the early stage work, then you have to start thinking bigger picture around how to manage growth and develop bench strength across your organization and understand how to fairly look at the weaknesses that you can improve upon. But the early focus, until we get some revenue velocity, is just to keep our overhead costs down and make sure that we are operating as efficiently as we can.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association


We are talking product that, in many cases, by removing it from the food chain, improves the digestibility of their leading product, so by taking it out it improves the overall food quality and improves the efficiency of the food chain. In doing so we create a significantly higher value product for the plastics market that comes from rapidly renewable resources and does so in a fashion that is compatible with a host of different polymer systems. We do this with an eye on cost consciousness because we understand that you are very likely to pay more of a premium for a more sustainable product but we have an intrinsic responsibility to offer a more sustainable solution and we do so by not invading spaces where we are going to corrupt or contaminate well-established recycling streams. I will temper that by saying Generation X is not going to save the world, but we are going to do our part to try and help the industry move in that direction. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNIQUE BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF WORKING FOR A STARTUP COMPANY IN PLASTICS?

We suffer a lot of the same roller coaster trend of excitement and fear that startup companies are prone to go through…everyone is empowered to make a significant impact on the company. It’s fast moving and there is a lot of pressure and demand on you to make a significant difference quickly. For me, that is empowering and exciting while for others it may be terrifying. It requires somebody that has the right type of mindset around risk taking and the ability to really pull yourself into the work and understand the risk and potential reward for working with a small company that is trying to dig into a space that is dominated by giants. ¥

Everyone is empowered to make a significant impact on the company. It’s fast moving and there is a lot of pressure and demand on you to make a significant difference quickly. For me, that is empowering and exciting.

19  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


By Ru s s el l Broome   |   Ma na ging Dire c tor, SPE

Pursuing Plastics in Academia: SPE (Society of Plastics Engineers) has lots of resources for students studying plastics at universities around the country


PE (Society of Plastics Engineers) is a community of individuals involved in the technical and commercial aspects of the plastics and polymer industry. It recognizes that today’s students are tomorrow’s industry leaders, and understands that students have unique needs for networking and information that they cannot get within the classroom. That’s why SPE has a set of resources that support these students throughout their academic life, and help them transition into the professional world.

“Diverse initiatives undertaken by SPE have made young people more aware of career opportunities in plastics, increased support for students seeking technical and professional training, and made first-time participation in industry activities easier and more attractive,” said Russell C. Broome, managing director of SPE. “As a result, student membership in SPE has grown considerably.” Programs and benefits now available for young people provide a broad range of opportunities and include:

¡¡Free student membership in SPE and SPI. SPE and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association now share the membership costs for students who are U.S. citizens. As a result, students receive free membership in SPE and free electronic membership in SPI.

¡¡Increased scholarship funding. The SPE Foundation awarded 45+ scholarships worth $112,000 to graduate and undergraduate students in 2015. The foundation also provides grants to college engineering departments for purchasing equipment for hands-on training. In addition, affiliate groups within SPE also have their own scholarship programs. SPE is now working with universities to develop scholarship programs for graduating high school seniors.

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 SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



¡¡Student loan debt relief. SPE partners with Credible, a leading independent marketplace for student loans and loan refinancing, to enable SPE members to compare student loan refinancing offers from multiple lenders after completing a single form. Credible acts as a matchmaker between borrowers and lenders, providing college graduates with personalized loan refinancing options.

¡¡Free online posting for job seekers. Student members of SPE can post their job searches for no charge at the Career Solutions section of the SPE website (www. In addition, companies can post open internship positions there for 180 days at no cost.

¡¡Online community for students. Campus Connection is a special section for students in The Chain, SPE’s online community enabling plastics professionals to interact. Moderated by plastics professionals from industry and academia, Campus Connection

enables student members of SPE to ask technical questions, get career advice, and in general benefit from the knowledge and insight available from experts.

¡¡Student programs at SPE ANTEC®. SPE offers special programs and activities for students at ANTEC and provides travel stipends for students who attend. Students can make postersession presentations to plastics professionals, with cash awards going to winning presentations. Other activities include panel discussions with career advice, speed interview sessions, a special student luncheon, and opportunities for networking with industry professionals as well as other students.

¡¡Campus visits by SPE staff. Managing director Russell Broome and other SPE representatives now visit colleges and universities to meet with students and their faculty

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

advisors, provide plastics career advice, learn about plastics educational programs, identify specific needs, and encourage SPE membership and student chapter formation.

¡¡Student chapters. All educational institutions offering a polymer curriculum can form an SPE student chapter. Students from 47 colleges and universities around the world (including China and Saudi Arabia) have formed SPE student chapters. Student chapters provide an operating framework for SPE activities at a university level. Examples of activities include technical guest speakers, attendance at local section meetings or conferences, participation in educational mini-fairs, engineering week or career nights at local high schools, bowling nights and mentoring programs.

¡¡Hands on Plastics™

kits which SPE now offers for sale to teachers in K–8th grades. They are designed to help educators and adult volunteers prepare programs about the chemistry and characteristics of plastics and are available in versions tailored to student age levels.

¡¡PlastiVan™. SPE operates this touring program designed to bring plastics education to elementary and high schools throughout North America, providing concrete examples and hands-on activities to help students learn about polymer properties, processing, applications, benefits, and sustainability. Plastics companies or individuals can sponsor PlastiVan visits in their communities. For more information on SPE student programs please go to students ¥

(HOP™) kits. These are prepackaged educational

21  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


By Katie Masterson  |  Senior Manager, Industry Affairs—Equipment Council, SPI

Fostering the Future—SPI’s Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Rolls Out Mentorship Program


n 2015, millennials—defined as anyone born after 1980—officially overtook baby boomers as the largest generation currently in the American workforce. Now more than ever, companies have been driven to confront the challenge of not just hiring, but also retaining, these younger professionals as part of their company’s long-term growth strategy and continued survival. In many cases, companies no longer have the luxury of wanting to do something to groom their future millennial leaders; they need to do something.

The good news is that there are many effective ways to accom-

Program with six pairs of professionals, one, a more tenured mentor,

plish this, and they don’t necessarily require high-end demographic

and the other a FLiP-aged individual (under 40 years old). So far it’s

research or cozy office amenities catering to young people, like an

been an immense success, speaking to the desire to grow and train

Xbox in the break room (although that probably doesn’t hurt). One

younger professionals in the plastics industry with plastics-specific

time-tested way to grow and invest in any employee in the plastics

tools. Each mentee gets the benefits that only a solid mentor can

industry, or in any other industry, is through mentorship. It’s old

provide, and each mentor gets to know their younger colleagues,

fashioned, but it’s an effective way for companies to communicate

and share their knowledge while expanding their horizons.

to existing employees how valued they are while making them better workers. It can also enhance the expertise and experience of older employees as well, by exposing them to newer perspectives from younger workers and enhancing their ability to manage members of a different generation.

“We’re trying to engage the younger generation and we also want to maintain and retain the younger people that are already in the industry,” said Jessica Bursack, communications manager for Jarden Process Solutions and leader of FLiP’s Mentorship Task Group. “Not only is the mentee going to benefit from the program

For professionals and companies who are looking for mentors but

by strengthening their skills and their knowledge of the industry,

might not know where to go, the best place to start would be SPI’s

but it’ll also provide perspective for the mentors: they’re hearing

Future Leaders in Plastics (FLiP) Mentorship Program, which makes

something they may not have heard before and it might help them

connecting mentors and mentees a cinch. FLiP soft launched the

look at things differently.”

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 SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



Here are some thoughts from the program’s existing group of mentors and mentees: Aline Alroy, High-Technology Corp. (Mentor)—It was a very good fit as Lucas [my mentee] and I are dealing with a lot of similar challenges. I could share my perspective with 25 years more experience, and he could share his perspective with his fresh eyes. It’s nice to speak with someone who has worked through some similar challenges and come out the other end, especially when ALINE ALROY working for a smaller company, where you may not have that relationship or perspective in your own company that you can easily tap into.


Lucas Shaffchick, Shawnee Chemical (Mentee)—Everything I got out of it was great. Overall, speaking with someone from a different smaller family business, in a niche market and talking about aspects of running and working for one was very beneficial. The relationship was easy and casual. The calls flew by. I didn’t have to worry about talking to someone who didn’t understand where I was coming from or fear I was oversharing since we are in different sectors.

M a u re e n S t e i n w a l l , S t e i n w a l l , I n c . (Mentor)—I learned just as much from her [my mentee] as she learned from me. I was able to ask questions and get insights from the youth as I wouldn’t be able to have such open and candid conversations with my employees. The relationship was mutually beneficial. We would discuss a topic and between the conversations, we found some clarity in the middle from each MAUREEN STEINWALL other’s perspectives. What’s good about it is you get a different perspective outside your typical circle. You want to take any opportunity you can to understand things from a diverse perspective. What we concluded was that there weren’t as many differences as we thought there would be between us; there were more similarities than differences.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

Annina Donaldson, Maxi-Blast (Mentee)— No matter your age or experience, you can always learn something from somebody. Our situations [my mentor’s and mine] were very parallel, both took over companies from our fathers in our 30s, both females in male-dominated industries. We both realize that not much has changed, but it was very beneficial to share our experiences and trials. What I took away from ANNINA DONALDSON the relationship is that there is an even greater need for current leaders and future leaders to talk to each other. Those coming in need to know what made the current leaders so successful while the current leaders need to know how to pass the torch on to someone different than they are. After speaking with some of the mentees and mentors in the program, it became clear that they saw more eye to eye on things than they thought, that they faced similar problems, and that they all had a lot more in common than they realized. They also noted that the time commitment was minimal (many of them decided to schedule monthly calls to touch base), but that it was still immensely beneficial. FLiP hopes to continue to grow and engage more people with its mentorship program, which is clearly already helping the select group of mentors and mentees who were involved with the soft launch. FLiP will be doing a full launch of the program this winter and will be recruiting mentors and mentees this fall. If you are interested in learning more about FLiP or would like to participate as a mentor or mentee in the Mentor Program please email ¥

What we concluded was that there weren’t as many differences as we thought there would be between us; there were more similarities than differences.

23  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Clean Sweep! Thank you to all of our partners and supporters for working to make this initiative successful. Operation Clean Sweep is now being implemented in 34 states in the US and 23 countries globally. If you have not joined Operation Clean Sweep, now is a perfect time. Help the plastics industry achieve zero resin pellet, flake and powder loss!

Do your part to protect the environment, learn more and sign the pledge


By Ro bert He lminia k  |   V ic e Pre sid e nt, Sc ie nc e a nd Re gula tory Affa irs, SPI

How the Plastics Industry Combats Marine Debris


arine debris is a major issue facing the plastics industry, and the industry is facing that challenge head on. The industry takes seriously the studies and concerns that have

emerged in recent years and is embracing this challenge.

Marine debris is anything that is manmade that does not belong in, but ends up in a body of water. In the real world, this primarily happens unintentionally (through litter), though it can happen intentionally through dumping or abandonment. One of the ways the plastics industry has come together globally to battle marine debris is through the Global Action Team (GAT). GAT is a multinational group of trade associations that represents the plastics industry and works together to solve the problem of marine debris. GAT members have all signed the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter. The Global Declaration is an agreement that the associations will commit to work with governments, non-governmental organizations, researchers, and stakeholders to prevent marine debris. The Global Declaration includes six pledges:

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

1. Contribute to solutions by working in public-private partnerships aimed at preventing marine debris; 2. Work with the scientific community and researchers to better understand and evaluate the scope, origins and impact of and solutions to marine litter; 3. Promote comprehensive science-based policies and enforcement of existing laws to prevent marine litter; 4. Help spread knowledge regarding eco-efficient waste management systems and practices, particularly in communities and countries that border our oceans and watersheds; 5. Enhance opportunities to recover plastic products for recycling and energy recovery; and

25  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016



6. Steward the transport and distribution of plastic resin pellets and products from supplier to customer to prevent product loss and encourage our customers to do the same. The Global Declaration was created in 2011 and introduced to the world at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference. Initially, 47 co-signers from 27 countries signed on. By the end of 2015, that number rose to 65 co-signers representing 34 countries. Also initially, participants planned, implemented or completed 100 marine debris projects intended to prevent or cleanup marine debris. At the close of 2015 that number grew by over 150% to 260 projects.

an authorization procedure to ensure that PCR plastics entering the food packaging supply chain are sufficiently processed to remove any potential contaminants. The model is designed to be tailored to each nation’s needs across the globe, accounting for differences in market dynamics and in the technical capacity of domestic manufacturers. AMERICAN PROGRESSIVE BAG ALLIANCE

The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) supports ‘A Bag’s Life’, a comprehensive educational campaign that seeks to teach the next generation how to recycle bags, film and wraps.

Each year, the GAT produces a Progress Report to reflect new and ongoing projects.


A whopping 96 of the 260 innovative projects take place in the Americas, and SPI is engaged in many of those. Some examples of the programs in which SPI leads or participates:

SPI supported the bipartisan “Microbeads-Free Waters Act of 2015,” which passed through both the House and Senate overwhelmingly and was signed into law December 28, 2015. This legislation, embraced by a broad cross section of the plastics industry, is a consensus based approach to phasing out solid plastic microbeads in cosmetic and personal care cleansing products.


Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS) is an international product stewardship program designed to prevent resin pellet loss and help keep pellets out of the marine environment. SPI and its SPI STAFF MEMBERS HELP CLEAN UP THE ANACOSTIA RIVER IN WASHINGTON, D.C. partner, the Plastics Division of SPI MARINE DEBRIS the American Chemistry Council, TASK FORCE promote the goal of zero pellet Making Progress loss globally through a suite of The mission of this SPI Public best management practices 2011 2013 2015 Policy Committee task force is to that manufacturers employ to counsel the broader committee Members 47 60 65 prevent the errant loss of pellets and SPI staff in developing Countries 27 34 34 into the environment. Every polices that support the plastics segment of the plastics industry Projects 100 185 260 industry in the field of marine has a role to play in achieving this debris. The task force will make Source: 2016 Progress Report, Marine Litter Solutions goal, and all plastics companies recommendations for policy are encouraged to take the initiatives on marine debris policy pledge—resin producers, transon all levels (local, state, federal porters, bulk terminal operators, plastics processors and equipment and international) on both plastics as marine debris and the prevention manufacturers—by implementing good housekeeping and pellet of plastics becoming marine debris. containment practices. POST-CONSUMER RECYCLED PLASTICS IN FOOD PACKAGING

SPI has developed model regulations/legislation for jurisdictions worldwide that support the safe use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics in food packaging. The model regulations, which are based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, establish

26  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


SPI is supporting and working with ASTM to help develop a suite of marine degradability standards. ASTM is a standard setting body with over 30,000 members and 12,000 standards globally. Currently, there is no active ASTM standard for marine degradability and this will encourage SPI members to develop plastics with marine degradability claims.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association




SPI is working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on EPA’s Trash Free Waters program (TFW). Members of SPI’s PPC Task Force on Marine Debris met with the program’s director and SPI is working with EPA on development of peripherals for TFW. One of the goals of SPI and EPA is to develop information on practices that should be adopted and encouraged by states, such as the use of Operation Clean Sweep.

Number of Projects within each Work Area Work Area #1 / Education


Work Area #2 / Research


Work Area #3 / Public Policy


Work Area #4 / Best Practices


Work Area #5 / Best Practices


Work Area #6 / Best Practices



SPI has participated in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. At this event, volunteer organizations and individuals around the globe engage people to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways, identify the sources of debris and change behaviors.

Source: 2016 Progress Report, Marine Litter Solutions

Number of Projects per Region Africa


The Americas



Arabian Golf


SPI has sponsored and presented at Plasticity, an annual event put on by Ocean Recovery Alliance. Plasticity was created as a discussion about the future of plastic and how new technologies and innovation can bring about reduced environmental impacts.



Australia/New Zealand


Europe including Turkey


The plastics industry efforts to combat marine debris are local, national and international in nature. SPI is constantly working to be a part of the solution to prevent marine debris. ¥


4 Source: 2016 Progress Report, Marine Litter Solutions

The plastics industry efforts to combat marine debris are local, national and international in nature. SPI is constantly working to be a part of the solution to prevent marine debris.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

27  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


It’s all here. In today’s fast-changing marketplace, staying ahead comes down to finding the right solutions. At PACK EXPO International 2016, you will see more machinery in action than anywhere else this year. Discover the latest processing and packaging advances from over 2,000 exhibitors—displaying innovations and showcasing solutions to keep you ahead of the curve.

Don’t miss it— November 6–9, 2016.

Visit SPI in booth N-5903!

Register today at

Produced by:

Co-located with:


By Su zan ne Morga n S en i o r D i re c tor—Gove r nme nt Affa irs a nd Gra ssroots Ad voc a c y, SPI

Legislative Victories: A Collaborative Effort by the Plastics Industry



ecent legislative victories for the plastics industry have not come easily, or without SPI members’

help and support. Updating the Toxic

Substances Control Act (TSCA), making permanent the research and development (R&D) tax credit and Sec. 179 expensing, and granting trade promotion authority (TPA) could not have been enacted into law without the men and women at SPI’s member companies stepping up to educate members of Congress and advocate for the plastics industry.

SPI advocacy can take many forms in addition to our staff directly lobbying in Washington, D.C. or in state capitals. Through our robust and active advocacy program, member companies can take advantage of opportunities to do their part in influencing the outcome of legislation on Capitol Hill, in state houses or at city halls. Whatever role they want to play, large or small, SPI members can and do make a difference in promoting the plastics industry with decision makers. SPI member companies have opened their facilities to legislators for a first-hand look at operations and to meet employees. Whether an extruder, a mold builder or a resin maker, members have showcased their plants and the plastics industry to legislators who sincerely want to learn about what their constituents manufacture and how they do it. Legislators want to know about successes and challenges, the burdens of cumbersome regulations, struggles to compete in the marketplace and the hiring climate. During a site visit of 60 to 90 minutes, hosts can utilize the time to steer the conversation and tour so that a legislator can come away with a unique understanding about the importance of that facility to the local and national economy. Time is usually set aside for the company or plant management to have a small-group discussion with the legislator to educate him or her about the industry, the company, its products and its customers. Past discussions have addressed the need for certainty in the tax code to make decisions on future R&D spending, planning for expansion of the facility and purchasing more machinery and the challenges of selling products abroad. Legislators remember their visits to facilities in their districts or states. Real-world examples and discussions of how legislative initiatives will impact companies and constituents give lawmakers perspectives to help guide their votes.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

29  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016



Whatever role they want to play, large or small, SPI members can and do make a difference in promoting the plastics industry with decision makers. In 2015, SPI began hosting industry roundtables with U.S. senators as opportunities for a senator to meet with his or her plastics industry constituents from around the state to discuss issues before Congress or other issues impacting the industry in that state. SPI members in Michigan met with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and members in Delaware met with Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), both co-sponsors of legislation to reform TSCA. These were opportunities to not only thank the senators for their support of the legislation but to also explain to them how the legislation would impact their companies, products and operations. The roundtables were a success as the senators’ support for TSCA reform legislation never wavered. SPI members have also taken the industry’s message directly to our nation’s capital since 2010 as participants in Plastics Industry Fly-Ins. Just as plant tours are beneficial back home, individual meetings on Capitol Hill between SPI member company representatives and their senators and representatives go a long way to educate lawmakers about the plastics industry and the importance of voting in support of or opposition to legislative initiatives. Many SPI members take advantage of coming to Washington year after year to build relationships with their legislators and their staffs. Their continued positive dialogue with Capitol Hill on key legislative issues is reinforced time and again when votes are cast to the benefit of the entire industry. Just as important as the plant tours and Capitol Hill meetings are to delivering our message, so are the email communications SPI members send to policymakers when votes or regulatory decisions are imminent. Hearing from a large number of industry members from their states or districts urging support or opposition to a bill is important for members of Congress. If elected officials do not hear from industry members on a piece of legislation, they will assume that industry does not care about that initiative. SPI members responded to legislative alerts in great numbers by sending emails to their lawmakers in support of SPI’s key initiatives—explaining that their companies and the industry would benefit if TSCA were updated, if R&D and Sec. 179 expensing were made permanent and if the president were granted TPA to fast track trade agreements. Similarly, members weighed in on state-based legislative threats and helped turn the tide against product take-back mandates and overly-rigid labeling requirements. Another important tool in the advocacy toolkit is SPI’s political action committee or “SPI-PAC.” SPI-PAC is the only federally-registered plastics industry political action committee. It helps to unify our collective industry voice by creating opportunities to build and strengthen relationships with members of Congress who support the plastics industry and to help us to find champions to lead the way on legislation important for the industry’s economic health and success. Since 2008, SPI-PAC has contributed to the re-election campaigns

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Through our robust and active advocacy program, member companies can take advantage of opportunities to do their part in influencing the outcome of legislation on Capitol Hill, in state houses or at city halls. of those members of Congress who have listened and understood the importance of the plastics industry to the global economy and who support key legislation. Through the years, loyal and committed SPI-PAC members understand that their small personal investments to SPI-PAC each year go a long way to ensuring a strong future for our industry. To become more involved in SPI’s advocacy program, please contact Suzanne Morgan at or 202–974–5218. She and the Advocacy team can help you facilitate plant tours for your legislators, keep you informed on other opportunities to meet lawmakers, answer your questions about SPI-PAC and give you more ideas to help educate decision makers about the industry. ¥

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



Plastics Champions Bring Industry Message to Capitol Hill


isiting Capitol Hill is not a one-and-done activity in any successful advocacy campaign. Relationships with lawmakers are built over time, and they’re what amplify the plastics industry’s voice in the policymaking process. Nine plastics industry trade associations, including SPI, took to Capitol Hill once again in June at the 2016 Plastics Industry Fly-In, bringing the industry’s message to lawmakers in person in order to build vital relationships and ensure pro-plastics, pro-manufacturing policies. First-time attendees got the chance to come face-to-face with their members of Congress and take the first step in building a successful relationship, while more seasoned attendees were able to follow-up with the staff and members they had met before. All in all, the event was an overwhelming success. These pictures capture some highlights. Learn more about the Plastics Champions at


SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



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SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



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SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

33  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


By Jaco b Ba rron  |   Ma na ge r, Communic a tions, SPI

Manufacturing Day 2016


he U.S. plastics industry is one of the nation’s largest manufacturing sectors, responsible for $427 billion in annual shipments. That’s impressive, but it doesn’t capture the

innovation, energy and excitement that can be found on the floor

of any plastics manufacturing facility, on any given day.

Once again this year, SPI is proudly sponsoring Manufacturing Day, a nationwide, Presidentially-proclaimed annual event when manufacturers host events at their facilities for students, job seekers and members of their community, in order to show them what manufacturing looks like today, and inspire the next generation of manufacturing workers. Even though it officially takes place on October 7, 2016, any day can be Manufacturing Day, and companies can host events on any date that works best for them and for their potential attendees. SPI is encouraging all of its members (in all of their locations) to consider opening their doors to celebrate Manufacturing Day this year, and make the most of this annual chance to educate visitors about all of the exciting things happening at their facilities and the opportunities they have to offer future workers.


Events like Manufacturing Day exist to pull back the curtain on the nation’s factories, and dispel the myth that these state-of-the-art facilities are somehow antiquated. Additionally, by engaging local communities, schools and media outlets, companies can show students and parents the opportunities available in the high-tech manufacturing factory of today and benefit from the exposure that comes from promoting their Manufacturing Day events. Manufacturing Day is also an outstanding opportunity to confront one of the greatest challenges facing manufacturing, especially the plastics sector: What the public believes about manufacturing does not match reality, and in many cases, it doesn’t even come close. Manufacturing Day can help improve the image of the plastics industry by giving companies the opportunity to showcase 21st century manufacturing and the ingenuity and innovation in their industry, on a national platform. It’s important to remember that only a small percentage of Americans have ever seen plastic products being made, and even fewer have had it explained to them. But the public is still interested, and they want to learn more. Let’s change their attitudes simply by showing them how we do what we do.

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SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



Last year, on Manufacturing Day 2015, at least 35 plastics facilities hosted tours and educational events across the country. At seven facilities alone (The Rodon Group, AMA Plastics, Parkinson Technologies, Inc., Toshiba Machine, Yushin America, Wittmann-Battenfeld and MR Mold) more than 600 people attended events, tours and information sessions focused on the great career opportunities that plastics manufacturing offers young job seekers. It was the most plasticscentric ever, and likely made progress in changing attendees’ perceptions of both plastics and manufacturing. A study conducted after last year’s event showed that 90 percent of the students who attended Manufacturing Day events found the activities or tours interesting and engaging. Furthermore, 62 percent of students came away more motivated to pursue a career in manufacturing. The plastics industry faces both an upcoming labor shortage and a perception gap. By opening our doors and inviting people in, we help to educate the public and spark interest in an exciting and solid career path. Visit the Manufacturing Day website (www.mfgday. com) for more resources on how to start planning your event today! ¥


Manufacturing Day at a glance SM

Developing positive perception of manufacturing with students

81% More convinced manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding



More aware of manufacturing jobs in my community

Activities/tours were interesting and engaging

62% More motivated to pursue a career in manufacturing

Generating value for Manufacturing Day hosts



Value in participating in Manufacturing Day

Likely to host an event again in the future

Developing positive perception of manufacturing with educators




The activities/tours were interesting and engaging

More convinced it provides careers that are interesting and rewarding

More aware of manufacturing jobs in my community

Spreading the word


of students are more likely to tell friends, family, parents or colleagues about manufacturing after attending an event

Source: Deloitte Development LLC

Copyright © 2015 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved. Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

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SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association is partnering again this year with IHS to host our annual Global Plastics Summit (GPS 2016) in Chicago, IL from Wednesday, September 28 through Friday, September 30. GPS isn’t just an opportunity for plastics companies throughout the supply chain to hear the latest insights and predictions from a who’s who of plastics industry luminaries; it’s also a chance for professionals of all levels to invest in their careers by networking with the industry’s best and brightest. This executive-level conference hosts key industry thought leaders, both on stage and in the audience, and the program will feature several critical conversations that offer a glimpse into the future of our industry, including:

¡¡A look at the global economic outlook and global trends in plastics trade with IHS’ Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh and SPI’s Vice President of International Affairs and Trade Michael Taylor.

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Invest in Your Industry and Your Career at GPS

¡¡A keynote conversation between ExxonMobil, Novolex and The Kroger Company in which producer, processor and brand owner, respectively, have the opportunity to talk about their role in the plastics industry supply chain and emerging trends and opportunities, like the global expansion of petrochemical capacity.

¡¡A “Game-Changing” panel that talks about the future of plastics in key end markets like automotive, building and construction and food processing and packaging.

such as David Kusuma, vice president of product development and R&D worldwide at Tupperware Brands Corporation, who will discuss the critical need for research and development to spur innovation in the plastics industry. Author Jamie Notter will also give a not-yourtypical millennial speech on the important role millennials play in today’s workforce. In between and after all of these sessions, attendees will get the chance to meet with their colleagues, grow their professional networks and enhance their value as plastics professionals. Don’t miss this opportunity to invest in the future of your career and your company. Attend GPS 2016 this year! ¥

The full agenda and speaker list also includes some new and noteworthy additions this year

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



Record-Breaking NPE2018 Pre-Draw Results Show Plastics Industry Investing Heavily in Future Growth


PI announced in August that the Pre-Draw process for securing, in advance, floor space at NPE2018: The Plastics Show  set a new record this year. SPI produces NPE2018, the triennial plastics trade show scheduled for May 7–11, 2018 in Orlando, Fla. The record-setting results of the Pre-Draw, in which long-time exhibitors get their pick of spaces on the NPE2018 expo floor, indicate that members of the plastics industry are optimistic about the industry’s future.

The Pre-Draw space assignments ended on July 29. Overall, 81 SPI member companies selected a record 243,700 square feet of exhibit space during the event, an 11 percent or 27,000 square-foot increase over NPE2015, which previously held the record for the biggest Pre-Draw in the more than 80-year history of NPE. “NPE2015 set several records for square footage and international participation which made it an event for the ages,” said SPI President and CEO William Carteaux. “Every three years, when NPE takes place, it has a measurable impact on the economy. The fact that more plastics companies than ever before are taking up more floor space, and doing so this early in the game, is an indication that the plastics industry is optimistic about its future prospects for growth on a global scale.” SPI hosted the NPE2018 Pre-Draw Lottery on June 7, 2016 at its Washington, D.C. office. The event determined the order by which qualifying companies—SPI member companies with a 15-show history or higher (and their affiliates)—could select their exhibit space for NPE2018. Applications for the full Space Draw for SPI member companies with less than a 15-show history, and all non-SPI member companies, will be available starting on September 6, 2016 at and are due on November 18, 2016. The full Space Draw Lottery will be held March 20–22, 2017, at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

NPE is one of the largest trade shows in the world and the most important trade show for the global plastics industry, attracting more than 65,000 attendees and more than 2,000 exhibiting companies each year. NPE2018: The Plastics Show will feature:

¡¡The Bottle Zone: An end-to-end exhibit on the NPE show floor for companies and brand owners in the beverage and bottling industries.

¡¡Re|focus Recycling Summit: SPI’s annual recycling summit gathers the entire plastics industry supply chain together to find new ways to reduce waste, increase the use of recycled content and increase the recyclability of plastics. It will colocate with NPE in 2018.

¡¡3D/4D Technology Zone: A popular pavilion from NPE2015, NPE3D focused on emerging technologies in 3D-printing and additive manufacturing. At NPE2018, this pavilion expands to include 4D printing technologies, which enable companies to manufacture items that can reshape, repair and assemble themselves over time. ¥

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Don’t Miss These Events


rom large trade shows to fall and spring niche market conferences hosted by SPI industry groups, the leading experts assemble at SPI events to learn, network and advance their company’s interests. 2016

September 28–30 Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago, IL Co-locating at GPS: Rigid Plastics Packaging Group Meeting September 28, 2016


EHS+ Committee Meeting

Plastics Industry Roundtable with Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) at BASF October 3, 2016 BASF’s Port Arthur Facility, Port Arthur, TX

NE Regional Dinner and Plant Tour at Wittman Battenfeld

October 12–13, 2016 Braskem Headquarters, Philadelphia, PA

Food Packaging Fall Summit October 26–28, 2016 Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, SC


October 6, 2016 Wittman Battenfeld HQ, Torrington, CT

26th Annual Mike Koebel Moldmakers Trade Fair

Manufacturing Daysm

November 3, 2016 Sheraton Fairplex Hotel, Pomona, CA

October 7, 2016

See Us at PACK EXPO—Booth #N-5903 November 6–9, 2016 McCormick Place, Chicago, IL



Rigid Plastics Packaging Group Meeting March 28–31, 2017 Sacramento, CA area

Equipment & Moldmakers Leadership Summit February 26–March 1, 2017 Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, Phoenix, AZ

April North American Flexible Film and Bag Conference

March NPE2018: Space Draw March 20–22, 2017 Rosen Shingle Creek Orlando, FL

April 18–20, 2017 Location TBD

May PLASTICS Spring National Board Meeting May 3–5, 2017 The Breakers, Palm Beach, FL

For more events and to register visit: 38  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association


By As h l ey Stone y  |   Dire c tor of Communic a tions, SPI

The STIHL Standard: How STIHL Inc. built one of manufacturing’s best apprenticeship programs, and how it’s still relevant today


PI member STIHL Inc. might best be known by consumers as a manufacturer of outdoor power equipment,

things like chainsaws, leaf blowers, string trimmers and the like. But the company is also a world-class plastics processor, making the parts that eventually go on to be

vital components in STIHL’s other products.

Beyond these applications, and in certain circles in the manufacturing world, STIHL is also known as a company with one of the nation’s best apprenticeship programs for its existing, and potential, employees. Though the program has been around for three decades, its foundation and continued success remain particularly relevant to companies facing challenges finding qualified employees, and demonstrate the lengths plastics companies go to make sure


their employees not only succeed, but thrive in their new positions.


The “skills gap,” which refers to the abundance of open positions in manufacturing that can’t be filled because too few potential employees have the right skills to fill them, is frequently thought of as a new, modern problem. It’s of a piece with conventional wisdom about the needs and wants of millennial workers. People think that millennials are entitled, that they’re more interested in white collar, service-based positions or that they want the corner office before they pay their dues in the trenches or, in this case, the factory floor.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

But it’s important to note that previous generations weren’t much more willing than their millennial counterparts to train and take manufacturing jobs several years ago. At least for STIHL, they found a shortage of qualified workers, similar to the one that threatens many companies today, when they were first getting started in the U.S. 40 years ago. “We started out in Virginia Beach in 1974, and we had to fill positions from the outside and it was hard to find people with the required technical skills,” said Benjamin Hoffmann, STIHL’s manager of polymer technologies. “We had to find a way to build a pipeline of STIHL-trained individuals.”

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STIHL started in Germany, a country with a long tradition in manufacturing, and as such, the company’s European operation had its own apprenticeship program that served as a blueprint for the one that would eventually be put to use at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Virginia. “We modeled it after a German template but STIHL had to get it registered with the state of Virginia,” said Skip Johnson, STIHL’s apprenticeship coordinator. “We had to get in touch with the Department of Labor here, and add their requirements for training and schooling, and mold that into the STIHL Germany program, so that it could get its state certificate.” Taking a German apprenticeship program and plopping it down in the U.S. might seem like a fairly simple, non-disruptive transition, but there were some challenges arising from the way apprentice programs are treated in Europe compared to how they work in the U.S., particularly if you’re trying to build a program that can operate in multiple states. “Most states have their own apprenticeship requirements. The German apprenticeship program is part of the IHK [which stands for Industrie-und-Handelskammer, which is essentially a German Chamber of Commerce with continental reach]. For all of their apprenticeship programs in Europe, it doesn’t matter if you’re in Germany, Spain, Italy or anywhere else, all the requirements are the same,” Johnson said. “If you go through the states, the requirements are going to be just a little different for each state.” FINDING APPRENTICES

Having its state certification means the STIHL apprenticeship program can award degrees to successful apprentices. Each worker who completes the program graduates with an associate’s degree in mechatronics—a broad term that refers to skills that can be applied in many different, engineering-oriented fields and functions. Before STIHL hands out any degrees, however, first they have to select candidates for the program. This process usually begins in March, after the program is promoted to both internal and external potential apprentices. “The program is fairly well-known so internally our employees know about it,” Hoffmann said. “We get about 300 applicants a year, and that’s for an average of about five positions to fill.” The company also partners up with local institutions, both to find and to educate apprentices. “We advertise in Tidewater Community College (TCC). We’ve also partnered up with the local schools here,” Johnson said, noting that the company also has an internship program that brings in students from the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Virginia Beach. “They send two students for a nine-week internship. They work out in teams in the different departments [at STIHL], and at the same time they’re taking courses at TCC.” Johnson noted that the internship prepares students for their eventual graduation to the apprenticeship program by giving them exposure to college-level coursework and in-house training. “Those first nine weeks are a total immersion process so that the student

40  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


knows what’s ahead of them in the apprenticeship,” he added. “Also for them, when they graduate they have one year of their apprenticeship officially completed. It gets them one year of hours that are registered through the state.” The internship program is new to STIHL, having only been added to their slate of offerings in the past year. “We’ve had five students come through this,” Johnson said. “All five completed it, and one student graduated two weeks ago. He’ll be starting in August and he’ll be the first ATC graduate that’s taking the next step here, going from intern to apprentice.”

Johnson noted that the internship prepares students for their eventual graduation to the apprenticeship program by giving them exposure to college-level coursework and in-house training.

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association



This cuts the remaining candidates down to about 20–25 people, who come back for day two. “There it’s actual hands-on work,” Johnson said. “We give them a blueprint, some instructions and some aluminum, and they have to take it and drill different holes in this block of aluminum, just to see if they can take this information, decipher it and use it. We want to see if they have any mechanical aptitude.” After that, only 15 candidates remain, and on day three they’re interviewed by a panel of about eight key managers from multiple STIHL departments. The candidates are ranked and then only the top five make it into the program. BUILDING AN EMPLOYEE

If that all sounds intense, that’s by design, and it’s partly what’s made STIHL’s apprenticeship program such a success for the company, its employees and, more recently, other companies. “We recently opened up our apprenticeship program to other companies,” Johnson said. “There are companies that might not have the resources to set up their own program, but our program is thought of highly enough that other companies are sending their employees to our apprenticeship program.” The program’s rigor is also a testament to how much STIHL invests in its employees. The positions they’re training people for aren’t merely cogs in a wheel, and the people working for them aren’t just treated like drones. STIHL’s apprenticeship program shows that the company values its employees enough to train them with this level of depth, and it prepares the worker for many potential positions in plastics manufacturing. WHITTLING DOWN CANDIDATES

Getting through the program, and even getting into it to begin with, isn’t exactly a walk in the park, unless you consider a rigorous combination of testing, classwork and on-site training a walk in the park. Johnson laid out the entire arduous process for how STIHL goes from 300-plus applicants all the way down to the 15 or so who make it to final interviews before their eventual acceptance into the apprenticeship program. “Anyone interested has to go online and take a mechanical aptitude test. It’s about a 15–20 minute test,” he said. “If you pass, you go to TCC and take a math placement and an English placement test, then you have to pass both of those.” Johnson noted that the initial aptitude test usually reduces the 300 or so applicants to around 150, and the placement tests reduce that figure down to 80 or 90. The remaining candidates are pooled together and STIHL goes through their test results and decides which 40 or so of those applicants get to come onsite. Once those 40 candidates arrive, they have a three-day period where they’re tested and interviewed. “On day one they come in and we’ve got a project: it’s an assembly, a carburetor,” Johnson said. “They have to disassemble this according to instructions and the blueprint they’re given, and then put it back together.”

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

Even with the continued success of the program, STIHL is still finding new ways to find and train and connect with potential employees. While the apprenticeship program is geared toward the technical roles available in STIHL’s facilities, the company recently identified a need on the engineering side, and thus partnered with the University of Massachusetts-Lowell for a co-op program. “The students are at STIHL for three full-time rotating semesters,” Hoffmann said. “They get assigned bigger projects they need to complete basically in line with what they learn in school.” If their previous experience is any indication, the new co-op program will turn into another STIHL success story, one that helps workers as much as it helps the company itself. “We actually just made one of the first students in the co-op their offer,” Hoffmann added. ¥


41  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016



SPI Business Benefits Directory


PI has teamed up with industry partners to provide your business with the best resources

to drive success. We’ve done the legwork for you and made the negotiations with these proprietary

To learn more about SPI Business Benefits

products and services so you don’t have to. This

Partners and how they can help your company

saves your business time and money, improves productivity and makes you more compet-

day-to-day, contact SPI membership at (202) 974–5212 or by email at

itive in today’s increasingly challenging international marketplace. BLACK LINE GROUP R&D Tax Credit Assessment (763) 550–0111

Join Now!

SPI Membership Has Its Benefits.

BOXWOOD Plastics Job Board

CONNECT WITH YOUR SUPPLY CHAIN SPI HEALTHLINK Health Insurance Exchange HealthLink (844) 413–5871 SPI CAPITAL ASSET Management Services (800) 323–0307 PROP 65 PROTECTION PROGRAM Business Risk Insurance SENTRY INSURANCE Business Insurance (888) 985–7607 SPI PLASTICS U Online Training PlasticsU (866) 706–8665

As a member of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, your company belongs to the largest U.S. plastics industry trade association and the only organization that represents all major segments of the industry: equipment manufacturers, material suppliers, processors, recyclers and brand owners.

ADVOCACY SPI protects and promotes the U.S. plastics industry at all levels of government. Advocating common sense legislative and regulatory policy based on sound science, while promoting the benefits of plastics, SPI member companies are plugged in and up-to-speed on the issues facing our industry today—and tomorrow.

NETWORKING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Access emerging technologies and network with customers and suppliers at conferences and events. SPI members benefit from exclusive discounts along with access to members-only conferences and events.

BUSINESS BENEFITS As an SPI member, you get proprietary products and services that save you time and money, improve your productivity and make you more competitive in today’s increasingly challenging international marketplace.

Contact SPI Membership at

42  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association


I MADE By Sco ttTHAT! Sc hmid t  |   Princ ip a l, Bla c k Line Group

Don’t Miss Out on Big Changes to the R&D Tax Credit


he recent enhancements to the R&D Tax Credit by Congress means that significantly more plastics companies will be able to claim the credit starting in 2016. Specifically, the ability to apply R&D Tax Credits against the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) will be a game-changer. Prior to 2016, it was not uncommon for companies to be able to generate meaningful R&D Tax Credits, but the company and/or their shareholders not be able to use the credits because of the AMT. So, you need to do your homework. When considering whether to pursue the R&D Tax Credit, there are three things that companies should assess: 1) Can a meaningful federal credit (and state depending on where the company is located) be generated that will provide good value to the company 2) If or when the credits can be used? Just because a credit can be generated doesn’t mean it can be used 3) Is there documentation to support the R&D Tax Credit claim being made?

An experienced company like SPI business benefit partner, Black Line Group is a company that specializes in this area of the tax code, and that can help determine if your company has an opportunity to pursue and what to think about. Black Line Group is not an accounting firm and works closely with a company’s CPA firm to ensure effective implementation. Black Line Group’s approach is to first do a no-cost assessment to see if there is a meaningful opportunity for a company to explore, and if ultimately engaging a specialist like Black Line Group makes

sense. The first step is a 60–90 minute discussion to better understand what is taking place within the company from an R&D standpoint. This discussion focuses on the manufacturing side of the business, and therefore the people we want to talk with are those directly involved with those activities. Typically this will be someone like a VP of Operations, Engineering Manager, Engineers and/or an owner that’s very technical. Owners can also often provide some historical perspective that is important in evaluating the opportunity. In addition to knowing what size credits a company can generate, we want to know if the credits can be used. With flow-through entities like an S corporation, the credits get allocated to the shareholders to use on their personal tax returns. However, most shareholders don’t understand whether they are limited by the AMT which is why it’s important to include the accountant in on the process. The accountant can easily provide insight as to whether the credits can be used. It’s important to note, as mentioned above, that starting in 2016, credits can be applied against the AMT in 2016 for those companies whose three prior year’s average annual revenues are less than $50 million, and applied against the Employer FICA Payroll Tax for certain start-up companies whose revenues are less than $5 million. If, after gathering all of this information, it looks like meaningful credits can be generated and that most/all of the credits can be used, Black Line Group would offer a proposal that would explain what the process entails, what the fees are and what the company can expect from a time and resource requirement to complete the project. At this point, your company can make an educated decision as to whether there is the value and ROI to proceed. Tax season is right around the corner. Now is the time to see if your company can benefit from these significant rule changes. ¥

Learn More:

Scott Schmidt, (763) 550-0111 SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

43  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


The SPI government affairs staff works with legislators in Washington and around the country on your behalf. Despite our best efforts, we cannot make ourselves known to each of the hundreds of members of Congress and tens of thousands of state lawmakers. Most importantly, these are people who listen to, and are influenced by, their constituents. Politicians listen to those who elect them—the voters who in essence have the power to hire and fire them. The term “grassroots” literally means effective lobbying from the ground up. Grassroots lobbying is more effective because it involves the people who speak from personal knowledge and experience about their genuine concerns on behalf of the plastics industry. Plastics industry grassroots efforts are most beneficial when they are based on good working relationships between constituents and their lawmakers. Establishing and maintaining these relationships is crucial to the plastics industry, since one-on-one interaction with lawmakers plays an essential role in advancing their understanding of our issues.

SPI Advocacy Inventory By completing the following inventory, SPI members are well on their way to establishing effective relationships with federal and state legislators. SPI is ready to assist with each item and can offer other ideas for your consideration. Your active involvement is the key to the success of SPI’s advocacy program.  Provide SPI with information about your or your colleaguge’s existing relationships with elected officials by completing the Grassroots Contact Form on the SPI website.  Provide SPI with the addresses of your facilities with the names of the plant or operations managers at each facility. SPI will match these locations with the respective federal and state legislators to help begin your relationship building.  Host plant tours for your federal, state, and local elected officials. SPI can assist.  Meet one-on-one with your elected officials in their local offices; attend a town hall meeting; or participate in a business/manufacturing legislative roundtable or meeting sponsored by a local business group like the Chamber of Commerce or manufacturers association.  Respond to SPI legislative alerts or call your elected officials when action is imminent.  Circulate the SPI legislative alerts or the links to “Take Action for Plastics” to employees, customers, and suppliers so that they can make their voices heard with lawmakers in support of the plastics industry. Employees and stakeholders are more likely to respond to a legislative alert when management encourages them to do so.  Download the “Plastics Champions” app from the Apple store for iPhones and iPads and use the information in preparation for plant tours and meetings or when sending communications to legislators.  Attend a Plastics Industry Fly-In. Join other industry members as we take our message to Capitol Hill. Appointments are set up by SPI, and industry members are briefed in advance on the expectations of their meetings and the issues to be discussed.  Participate in SPI-PAC and urge your colleagues to do so. SPI maintains a federally registered political action committee to enhance advocacy efforts. Contributions to SPI-PAC are made from personal and not corporate money and are voluntary.

How SPI Can Help SPI staff is ready to help facilitate plant tours, meetings, roundtables and other interactive events with your legislators. For example, SPI staff will be your liaison with a legislator’s staff to submit a request for a plant tour or meeting, secure a date for the event, help you plan the agenda and logistics for the event and assist in follow up after the event. In some cases, you might be approached by SPI to host a plant tour or to attend a local meeting for a specific legislator because that legislator serves in a leadership role or is a member of a key committee in Congress or your state legislature. Effective and thoughtful written communications are also important in developing and maintaining relationships with legislators. SPI maintains an interactive, state-of-the-art web platform accessible through the SPI website where sending targeted and timely communications to federal and state lawmakers takes just a few clicks. Industry members will be urged to “Take Action for Plastics” when legislative action is imminent. From that site, composed letters with the SPI message will be ready to send to legislators. Industry members can also use “Take Action for Plastics” to find contact information for legislators, search for a legislator by a specific address, and provide SPI with feedback on meetings or information on established relationships with legislators.

For more information, visit: or contact:

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association 44  THEPlastics SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016 SPI: The Industry Trade Association | | 1425 K Street, NW, Suite 500 | Washington, DC 20005 | (202) 974-5200

AT 03/2016

Working with Elected Officials

The Wells Fargo Insurance California Proposition 65 program is an SPI-endorsed coverage offered as a business benefit by SPI to its members.

Protect your business from plasticizer lawsuits under California Prop 65 Companies can mitigate their risk by securing Prop 65 coverage to provide protection from the costs associated with defending a Prop 65 lawsuit specific to plasticizers, including: FINES




This coverage will be serviced by Safehold Special Risk, Inc. a division of Wells Fargo Insurance. Safehold offers a diverse set of special risk insurance products with services provided by professionals with experience in each specific area of risk. Products and services are offered through Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA, Inc., a non-bank insurance agency affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. Products and services are underwritten by unaffiliated insurance companies except crop and flood insurance, which may be underwritten by an affiliate, Rural Community Insurance Company. Some services require additional fees and may be offered directly

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association through third-party providers. Banking and insurance decisions are made independently and do not influence each other.

45  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016

REGISTER TODAY! September 28-30, 2016 | Chicago, Illinois USA

Shifting Paradigms in Plastics: Innovate to Win The Global Plastics Summit is the preeminent industry event providing perspectives from across the entire supply chain — from producers, converters, and brand owners. Key speakers include: David Kusuma, VP Product Development and R&D Worldwide, Tupperware Brands Corporation Thomas Deman, Global PE Marketing Manager, ExxonMobil Nariman Behravesh, Chief Economist, IHS Stan Bikulege, Chairman & CEO, Novolex Brian Soder, Global Category Sourcing Leader - Plastics Packaging, The Kroger Company Lisa Pitzer, Director Marketing, Avure Technologies Mark Eramo, VP, Global Chemical Business Development, IHS Chemical Pre-event, September 28:

Training workshops

Day One, September 29:

Our widely acclaimed keynote panel presentations and lively Q&A from producers, processor and brand owners

Day Two, September 30:

New and innovative thinking on recycling, catalyst advances, and much more

Hear insights from key industry leaders at GPS 2016. Enhance your GPS 2016 participation with an event sponsorship. To learn more, contact: Keith Price | Email: | Direct: +1 202 974 5276

Save the Dates for GPS 2017 October 11-13, 2017 REGISTER TODAY!

46  THE SPI MAGAZINE  Fall 2016


SEPTEMBER 28-30, 2016 SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

Manufacturing. Imagine if recycled plastics were a key feedstock for manufacturing across all industry segments, not just packaging. The potential to increase the use of recycled plastics in manufacturing – throughout the supply chain – is enormous. The Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit will challenge the entire plastics supply chain to “reimagine” product design and manufacturing with an eye toward promoting the use of recycled content, selecting materials designed for recycling and focusing on driving sustainability in manufacturing.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Renew. Re imagine Manufacturing.


Profile for SPI Magazine

Fall 2016 SPI Magazine  

The Fall 2016 Edition of the SPI Magazine, published by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.

Fall 2016 SPI Magazine  

The Fall 2016 Edition of the SPI Magazine, published by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.