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Headache disposal, too

When environmental legislation began to affect customers, Wacker Silicones switched to a durable industrial bulk container that eliminates customer hassles.
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FILED IN:  Sustainability  > Strategy
     

Wacker Silicones Corp. produces silicone products sold in bulk to manufacturers for applications such as tire lubricants adhesives and release liner coatings. As environmental legislation at the state level became tougher the Adrian MI-based company found that its traditional tote comprising a wooden pallet corrugated sidewalls and polyethylene liner was causing headaches for its customers. Wacker's switch to a reusable industrial bulk container from Sonoco Industrial Container Div. (Marietta GA) solved those problems. "Many states have different requirements for disposal of packaging" explains Mitch Myers national sales manager for Wacker Silicones. "Some have a problem getting rid of wooden pallets; others have higher expenses in getting rid of corrugated. "When many of our customers asked for an easier way to dispose of the containers our product was shipped in we began to look for an alternative and a company that could help with disposal" he says. "We chose Sonoco because it offered the best array of benefits to our customers and our environment." The industrial bulk container consists of a 275-gal high-density polyethylene bottle enclosed within a steel cage. This cage allows stacking three-high while a steel pallet protects the actual bottle from forklifts and other handling damage. "If the container is damaged the customer may lose the expensive silicone or risk contaminating a sensitive product" says Myers. "Therefore strength and durability were key concerns when we were selecting a new package." In addition the Sonoco IBC has solved another problem. Explains Myers: "We had found that with the previous package we used it was difficult to drain all of the product from the container because it had a flat bottom. There was some residue that was left. "The design of the Sonoco container includes a sloped bottom. That slope goes into a built-in sump then into a drain valve. There's a 100% drain from the tote." Responsible disposal Sonoco and Wacker worked together to create a disposal program that relieves Wacker's customers of the responsibilities associated with container disposal part of Wacker's Responsible Care® program. Previously each of Wacker's customers would have to make calls prepare shipping documents and coordinate pick-ups with local disposal companies. According to Myers "There's an 800 number a customer can call to indicate he has a given number of empty IBCs. We arrange for a carrier to pick them up and return them to Sonoco." At Sonoco the bottles are cleaned shredded and recycled into non-food-grade materials. Metal cages and stainless steel pallets are reused. "We went to each of our customers and asked them to analyze their disposal situation and they determined that they were spending three to six cents per pound for disposal" says Myers. "The costs associated with the IBC are equal to or less than the costs our customers were experiencing." But what about the drawbacks to the Sonoco system Packaging World asked Myers. "Truthfully" he replied. "I can't think of one. We have had no complaints."

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