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Sustainable packaging in the supply chain context
Sean Sabre, Regional Supply Chain Manager – Americas,
ModusLink Global Solutions, Packager

Shame on us in the sustainable packaging realm that we don’t talk enough about sustainable packaging design and supply chain dynamics. I mean, I like to talk about recycled content, recovery, the latest and greatest substrates and resins, and dog bio/oxo like the rest of you, but I can’t get enough of the dialogue when it comes to designing within the context of a “system”... or for this particular string, the supply chain. I don’t think any of us who toil for a manufacturer will dispute that if you design in a vacuum (without the cross-pollination and participation of procurement, planning, assembly, or logistics) you are playing roulette with your time. …Let’s leave the comfortable and trendy discussions about plastic vs. paper for a few minutes and talk about how we make an impact independent of the bill of material (BOM).

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Where does the plastic industry go from here?
Chandler Slavin, Sustainability Coordinator, Dordan Manufacturing, Packager

As Sean Sabre pointed out in a recent post, there is no recycling market for nonbeverage PET flake, i.e., the PET used in thermoformed packages. According to various contacts at Waste Management, this is because those who buy the balled PET beverage containers to recycle into other products do not want PET clams, blisters, or components, as it compromises the feedstock of the PET bottle flake. …In a nutshell: We can’t recycle it if the quantity is not there, which inherently means there is no market for the end life of these types of PET. Where do we go from here? Do we, as an industry, decide on using one type of material per application, i.e., one PET type for food, medical, and consumer goods in order to ensure the quantity of material necessary for the development of an end market for said material? Do we “downcycle,” via pyrolysis? Do we switch to PLA or other bio-resins? As an industry, we must collaborate if we want to reach our shared goals of sustainability.

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