Beyond the Bottle

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Sustainability news is abundant in the beverage industry as of late. Many big-name brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Ice Mountain have focused on adding recycled content into their product offerings. One way these brands have done this is by offering bottles made of recycled plastic.

At the end of 2020, PepsiCo committed to selling 100% recycled plastics bottles across nine counties. In February 2021, the Coca-Cola brand announced their plans for 100% PCR 20- and 13.2-ounce bottles. Coca-Cola Company brands Sprite and DASANI will also have bottles made with 100% recycled plastic. As of mid-May, BlueTriton’s (formerly Nestlé Waters North America) Ice Mountain brand announced plans for their bottles to be made with 100% recycled plastic. Five additional BlueTriton brands are currently using 100% recycled bottles.

The above are just a few notable examples of the many great efforts happening across the industry. Many companies recognize that the best time to make sustainable moves is right now. Mintel recently found that 64% of US consumers say food and drink manufacturers should be responsible for environmentally friendly choices. Likewise, consumers are actively seeking to purchase from sustainable brands now more than ever.

As more and more brands adopt bottles with recycled content, we encourage them to also look beyond the bottle. To the packaging that holds the beverage packs together – shrink film.

Our new GreenPE Shrink™ collation shrink film is made with up to 50% recycled resin content and is a smart fit for brands looking to expand their sustainable partnerships. This durable film can withstand rough handling and transport processes and provide equal or greater performance to virgin resin products.

We were able to create such a strong product through our unique layering technique. GreenPE Shrink™ has five layers that maintain traditional stiffness and gloss on the outside and feature recycled content in the core.

As a supplier, Petoskey Plastics is known in the industry for engineering specialty formulas based on the customer’s applications and requirements. We make our hard-to-puncture GreenPE Shrink™ available in multiple widths from 10” to 90” and available in multiple thicknesses from 1.5 to 2.5 mil. Our film is customizable from 50% recycled content to a minimum of 30% post-consumer recycled content.

A logical option to continue sustainable growth, Petoskey Plastics is ready to work with companies looking to expand their packaging portfolios. Visit our dedicated collation shrink film page to learn more, or watch our video to see just how GreenPE Shrink™ can be a great sustainable packaging option.

Closer Look at Closed-Loop

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As legislators introduce more EPR bills, an influx of attention is likely to be on closed-loop programs as a form of product end-of-life management.

Frequently associated with the idea of a circular economy, closed-loop programs function to reuse existing materials. “A circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design” World Economic Forum defines.

Green Matters breaks the idea down even more, “It’s helpful to think of literal loops or circles to understand the core concept. Instead of raw materials moving in a straight line from collection, through manufacturing, to purchase (and, once it’s broken or used up, the trash can), imagine a loop. The materials are always moving through this loop, never reaching an endpoint.”

It is not uncommon to see the phrase “closed-loop” in relation to the plastics industry, but this process is not unique to plastics. Fashion, electronics, and bottling are just a few industries that have established closed-loop programs to keep vital resources from entering the waste stream. Petoskey Plastics is already a proponent of closed-loop programs; ours helps us create sustainable products and concentrate on environmentally focused advancement.

We bring plastic film back into our in-house recycling facility for reuse by partnering with our customers. Controlling the conditions of the incoming film ensures the consistent quality of the post-consumer resin we use in production. 

Plastic that would otherwise be land-filled is baled and sent to our Hartford City, Indiana, facility for systems to inspect for contaminants. After being screened, the bales make their way to a bale buster. The plastic is then sifted and fed to a grinder to make plastic flakes. The resulting flakes are washed to remove any paper, hard plastic, and aluminum. In the wash, contaminants will separate and sink, leaving behind the plastic. Next, the flakes are heated, dried, and melted. A laser filter then removes any final non-plastic remnants left. The pellets get sifted again to remove water and taken through quality checks.

The final result is the GreenPE recycled resin pellets used in Greencore® products and new products like our collation shrink film. The PCR pellets are certified by third party SCS Global Services to guarantee a genuine, sustainable product.Each year, the program recycles more than 30 million pounds of plastic. To see a visual of the closed-loop process, view our informative video.

We are very proud of our program and commitment to a sustainable future. We hope in the future that more individuals and businesses remember to “treat their products as resources, not disposable trash” as Green Matters says.

To learn more about our sustainability efforts, visit our website and stay on the lookout for future blog posts!

What is EPR?

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Recently, there has been more and more discussion on EPR in the plastics industry and the sustainability world. For those not well-versed in industry jargon, it can be hard to follow along. So, what is EPR?

EPR stands for extended producer responsibility. In short, the strategy aims to make producers responsible for the end-of-life of their products. To go more in-depth, EPR is a strategy that aims to target environmental costs associated with a product and reduce them by making the producer (manufacturer) of the product responsible for its disposal, recovery, or reuse. Fees generated by producers would typically fund the programs for end-of-life. The goal would be to build a circular economy that reduces single-use products and increases sustainability.

While EPR isn’t a brand-new concept, there is an increase in states considering it, primarily when dealing with packaging and paper products. The topic becomes more complex as different states start to introduce individual legislation. California, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Washington are just a handful of the states that have passed or introduced EPR bills. The legislation introduced in these states ranges in the materials regulated, producer definitions, exclusions, etc.

Sustainable Packaging’s EPR Guide is a new resource for understanding and comparing bills. Each bill has a breakdown of topics like covered products, producer definitions, targets, structure, fees, enforcement, and more. It will be important to know how EPR will affect your state and industry in the coming years; with tools like the Sustainable Packaging guide, you’ll be able to find what materials each bill focuses on or how recycling is defined.

As a producer of plastic materials, Petoskey Plastics will continue to make updates on EPR policy and how that potentially impacts our business. Stay tuned for more EPR, sustainability, and plastics content, and stay up to date by following our FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Twitter.

Certified Recycled Content with SCS Global Services

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As a part of Petoskey Plastics’ focus on sustainability, we use post-consumer recycled content (PCR) in many of our products. We ensure the quality of the PCR through multiple methods. Internally, we control the conditions of incoming landfill-diverted plastic through our in-house recycling facility and closed-loop partnerships. Externally, we have our PCR certified by SCS Global Services, a third-party company, which helps us guarantee a genuine, sustainable product.  

SCS has offered third-party certification in the field of sustainability since 1984. They have worked with organizations in natural resources, built environment, food and agriculture, consumer products, and climate sectors. 

Companies, government agencies, NGOs, and stakeholders have worked with SCS to advance their respective sustainable development goals. SCS helps do this by offering independent assessments that accredit recycled content, responsible sourcing, and more.

Petoskey Plastics has a Recycled Content Certification from SCS for our recycled resin pellets. The Recycled Content Certification evaluates products, such as our pellets, made from pre- or post-consumer materials that we have diverted from landfills and waste streams. Certification from SCS measures the percentage of recycled content in each product to verify information and claims in the marketplace. We were first certified by SCS in 2009.

To earn this certification, we go through the following process:

  1. Data Collection and Analysis
    • An auditor helps us assemble our data and documentation. The auditor reviews our manufacturing data, processes, and chain of custody procedures to determine if conformance is achieved as well as the nature of our claim.
  2. Report Draft Assessment Report
    • The auditor writes a draft assessment report that details the findings of the audit, including data analysis, non-conformities, and opportunities for improvement. A response to any non-conformities with a root cause analysis and corrective action is required. The auditor may also conduct an onsite visit.
  3. Review Internal Peer Review and Client Review
    • A qualified SCS lead auditor reviews the report, making any necessary corrections or changes. The report is then sent for review, and we may comment on the information contained in the report and the conclusions drawn by the auditor.
  4. Decision Certification Decision
    • If certification is achieved, SCS issues the certificate(s), logos, and final report to us. Once certified, Petoskey Plastics and our products are listed on the SCS Certified Green Products Guide.
  5. Maintain Certification Maintenance and Renewal
    • Certification is valid for one year. SCS requires annual audits to maintain our certification and support continual improvement.

SCS’ vision is of a “sustainable future that safeguards our environment and our climate, respects the dignity and supports the health and wellbeing of workers and communities, and raises the standard of living for all.” One way they do this is by providing the data to help consumers make informed decisions.

Petoskey Plastics proudly offers sustainable options across many product lines. See how we use our certified recycled content and how it can help your organization exceed sustainability goals!

What Does PCR and PIR Mean, and What is it?

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You have most likely heard of PCR and maybe even PIR, but what do they stand for? These acronyms are extremely common in writings about sustainability and plastic — so common that sometimes they aren’t fully explained. If you’ve been wondering what PCR and PIR are, we’re here to help.

PCR is commonly written as PCR resin, which stands for Post-Consumer Recycled resin. Sometimes this is shortened to just PCR for Post-Consumer Resin. They are interchangeable in most circumstances.

PIR is Post Industrial Recycled (resin) or Post-Industrial Resin. As with PCR, the exact wording is typically interchangeable.

Now, what are PCR and PIR, and how are they different?

Post-Consumer means that the plastic has been used for its intended purpose by the customer. When it has completed its purpose, these plastics are recycled through traditional curbside or collection recycling. In some cases, closed-loop buyback programs are set up for products that are used in more commercial spaces. Petoskey Plastics utilizes a closed-loop program to reclaim our used plastic products from our customers and turn them into recycled resin that will be used again in future products.

Post-Industrial is plastic that never made it to the consumer. This excess plastic is left over from the manufacturing process and can be generated for a variety of reasons. Some scrap comes from contouring products or changing production on a line. Other times, scrap is created during necessary product quality and printing standards checks. Since this plastic never leaves the manufacturing setting, it can be easier to collect and recycle. 

Both PCR and PIR content is sorted, cleaned, and melted back into resin pellets to then be used again in future products. If you’re curious to learn more about that process, check out our closed-loop video that explains the steps we take to get clean resin to reuse.

The next time you see a product that is made or packaged with PCR or PIR resin, you know that you are doing your part to purchase sustainably. Just remember to recycle that product when you are done with it to keep the loop going!

Reduce waste. Reuse plastic film. Restore our Earth.

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This April 22 will mark the 51st Earth Day, a time to share our love of the planet, reflect, and innovate.

This year’s official Earth Day theme is Restore Our Earth™ and centers on “natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking that can restore the world’s ecosystems.” 

For our take, we’ve adopted the tagline “Reduce waste. Reuse plastic film. Restore our Earth.” The idea is simple: recycling plastic films reduces waste and allows those films to be reused in new products. This cycle keeps plastics out of the environment and in necessary products that benefit us all.

You may also notice that we have a new Earth Day 2021 logo. This logo has a special surprise hidden inside — the red, green, and blue plastic films that make up the logomark are scrap from our Morristown plant that is set to be recycled again! With the logo and tagline, our goal, as always, is to relay how valuable and sustainable plastics can be. To further prove this, we will be posting about our green technologies and sustainability projects. Most importantly, we will be launching a new sustainable product on Earth Day.

Before we get there, though, we would like to share a bit of our sustainability story. Our history with Earth Day goes back further than you may expect. Petoskey Plastics started operating the same month that Earth Day was first held back in April of 1970. While we initially focused on in-house recycling in 1978, we now recycle over 30 million lbs. of plastic film per year by diverting landfill-bound plastic waste. 

Petoskey Plastics has worked hard to provide sustainable products through our closed-loop partnerships. We pioneered the program in 1992 and have been going strong since. In addition, we have an industry-first Sustainability Scorecard program for customers that purchase our products with materials made from Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) resin. The scorecards show customers how their purchases impacted carbon footprint equivalents, emission offsets, and water savings. 

Most recently, we’ve committed to operating our new facility in Texas completely through wind energy. It was important to us to better serve our customers outside of the Midwest while upholding our sustainable vision. We are very excited about this decision and look forward to finding more ways to promote green strategies internally.

In the end, we enjoy Earth Day, but we know that just one week isn’t enough. That is why Petoskey Plastics continues to focus on sustainability every day. From new product development to internal practices, we take the future of our planet seriously. So don’t worry — we will still be posting about sustainability long after Earth Day is over.

The best way to stay tuned as we post more about our sustainable initiatives, accomplishments, and products is to follow our social media accounts. That’s where you will see our big announcement on Earth Day!

You can find more of our sustainability information on the Petoskey Plastics and Greencore® websites. Visit Earth Day Network or National Geographic for virtual educational and celebrational events all week long.

Happy Earth Week, everyone! 

Sustainable Packaging Coalition: Innovation and Teamwork

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Established in 2004, SPC has over 600 members of material manufacturers, recyclers and waste recoveries, government agencies, and more. Petoskey Plastics has been a member since 2019.

The mission of the coalition is “to bring packaging sustainability stakeholders together to catalyze actionable improvements to packaging systems and lend an authoritative voice on issues related to packaging sustainability.”

Petoskey Plastics works with sustainably minded suppliers to support our packaging sustainability goals. The packaging for our finished goods is made from 100% recycled corrugate material whenever possible. We also work with our packaging suppliers to continuously improve the “rightsize” of our cartons and shipping packaging by ensuring there is no unused space within boxes. Our products are then space-efficient and lighter, and we use less energy to ship to customers, reducing our carbon footprint.

A quick look at the SPC website shows that other members have also worked hard to uphold the mission. While it would take a separate article to highlight all the projects and collaborative ventures, there are a few we would like to share.

The SPC Design for Recycled Content Guide is a free resource for brands and companies that would like to make their packaging more sustainable. The guide gives many helpful tips and facts about recycled content and covers a mix of material types, plastic and otherwise.

One fact from the guide that we love is: “Using 30% recycled content in PE films has been estimated to reduce energy consumption by a quarter and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over a third during manufacturing.” We make our Greencore® products with up to 70% recycled content, so imagine the reduced energy consumption there!

Another project to note is the How2Recycle® Label that over 150 member companies use on their consumer product packaging. 

Recycling rules can be hard to follow when the process is not standardized; the label aims to reduce that confusion and help consumers recognize how and where to recycle their materials.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition intends to be “the leading voice on sustainable packaging with a membership that encompasses the entire supply chain.” Visit their website to see all the other ways members are using their voices to promote sustainable packaging.

Operation Clean Sweep: What the Pledge Means to Us

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Our Morristown, Tenn. rail spur is frequently cleaned of all resin pellets that may have leaked during the pumping of railcars.

Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) is a campaign supported by the Plastics Industry Association and the American Chemistry Council. This campaign aims to have “zero pellet, flake, and powder loss” from all plastic resin handling operations. Many companies and organizations have shown their support and become partners by signing the OCS pledge. Joining this program means committing to properly dealing with handling pellets, flakes, and powders and maintaining state and local regulations.

Resin pellets from plastic handling facilities appearing in waterways is usually unintentional and hard to catch if you are not paying attention. Small pellets can get lodged in the grooves of a shoe and follow an associate out to the parking lot where rain washes the pellets into the storm drains. Or, while unloading resin from trucks or trains, stray flakes could fall enter the ecosystem. OCS encourages facilities to look at all the areas where resin could be exiting the facility and entering the outside environment to avoid instances like the above.

In our Morristown, Tenn. plant, we have taken many measures to ensure resin pellets are not being introduced to the environment while entering our facility. In 2019, with the construction of our addition, the rail spur was asphalted and extended. Tactics to keep the rail spur clean of resin include:

  • Catch trays for use at all railcar unloading valves
  • Connecting hoses equipped with automatically closing valves that shut if the connection is broken
  • Proper emptying and sealing of bulk rail containers prior to shipment
  • Portable shop vacuums for outside use as well as brooms, dustpans, rakes, etc.
  • Screening in all storm drains with the screening mesh smaller than the smallest pellet handled at the facility

Petoskey Plastics has been a partner of OCS since 2019 but has cared about keeping plastic out of waterways for much longer. Not only are we big fans of Michigan’s Great Lakes that our Petoskey headquarters and plant are on the shores of, but we know the value of all waterways, big and small, and have always aimed to protect them. So much so, the three blue waves in our logo are partly meant to represent our efforts to protect important water resources (the other meaning has to do with our 3-layer technology, which you can learn more about here).

OCS has partners across the United States and has been adopted in many other countries. Petoskey Plastics is proud to have signed the Pledge to Prevent Resin Pellet, Flake, and Powder Loss and is committed to maintain and uphold that duty. To learn more about Operation Clean Sweep, check out their Prevent Material Loss video or head over to their website. You can also take the company or employee pledge here

Stay tuned as we discuss more certifications and programs in the future.

Circular Economy Trends in 2021

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Closed Loop and recycling programs, sustainable packaging movements, and more, are all contributing to the growing trend of diverting landfill-bound waste into new products.

One of Fast Company’s recent articles discusses circular economy in trends in 2021— let’s talk about some of them.

First, a vocabulary lesson. Closed loop is the process of reclaiming used materials and reusing them in new products. For example, Petoskey Plastics does this when we partner with customers to collect their used plastic. We take it to our recycling facility in Hartford City, Indiana to be reprocessed into new plastic resin pellets that are then added into new 3-layer products.

As the Fast Company article discusses, closed loop projects are becoming more popular among well-known brands. What’s great about the expansion of closed loop programs is that materials that are sometimes just treated as waste are instead taken and reused again and again. This lessens the production of virgin materials while also decreasing the amount of landfill-bound waste. 

This is a big deal in the plastics industry, because, as we all know, there is an issue with the way plastic is disposed after use. Issues like plastic in waterways can be addressed in part when more manufacturers adopt closed loop practices. Setting up buy-back or recycling programs allow partners a way to sustainably pass along materials instead of sending them to landfills.

With the adoption of closed loop practices, the use of sustainable packaging that is easier to recycle and made with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled plastic will be more common. Along that vein, ideally there will be an increase of products that are designed with the purpose of being recycled. Some footwear brands, like Adidas, have already taken on this challenge, and it will be interesting to see how other industries and products contribute ideas and solutions.

Aside from producing materials in a closed loop, measuring sustainability and encouraging partner companies to be sustainable is becoming expected widely. Greencore® customers can receive a scorecard that lays out how much impact their purchase of recycled film and bags had in understandable measures like “miles not driven,” “gallons of water saved,” and more. Becoming more sustainable takes a lot of effort, so it’s nice to work together and be reminded that the results are worth it.

Another example of working together for sustainability is The Coca-Cola Company partnering with competitors like PepsiCo and Keurig Dr Pepper to promote closed loops and plastic collection.

And speaking of Coca-Cola®, the company just recently announced that a selection of their bottles will be made from 100% recycled plastic content. This is great news, as Coca-Cola® bottles are commonly part of waste found in waterways.

We look forward to watching as many industries, including plastics, make strides in becoming more sustainable.

Everyday Items Made with Recycled Content You Can Buy

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With Earth Day just around the corner, recycling and living sustainably is something that should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. We did some research and there are so many companies out there making everyday products out of recycled material. Buying products made with recycled material is great for both the environment and economy. Not only does it reduce waste sent to landfills, it helps reduce your overall carbon footprint. Below are just a few examples of everyday products made with recycled material. 

Clothes & Shoes –Both plastic and fabric can be recycled and used to make new clothes and shoes. For example, Adidas is making tennis shoes and athletic wear out of ocean plastic and Recover Brands turns recycled plastic bottles into clothing. 

Trash bags – That’s right, trash bags can also be made from recycled material. Greencore® trash bags are made from post-consumer recycled film. By using the post-consumer material, not only is plastic film is diverted from landfills but there is also over 50% less COcreated during the manufacturing process. 

Furniture – There are a lot of companies out there making furniture from recycled material. New furniture can be made from recycled wood, glass, metal, plastic, and fabric. Next time you are looking to buy furniture or redecorate your living space, remember to recycle or donate your old furniture and buy new from brands that contribute to sustainability. 

Toothbrushes – Toothbrushes are not something you would think could be made from recycled material, but they definitely can be. Some companies make biodegradable toothbrushes out of bamboo while others make toothbrushes out of recycled plastic. Note: bristles are always new. 

Tableware – Bowls, glasses, and plates can all be made from recycled glass and plastic. Many are durable, dishwasher safe, and have the added bonus of also being sustainable. 

Living a sustainable lifestyle is not hard. There are a lot of companies out there making great products from recycled material. All you have to do is some research to find out what brands and then support those companies and the environment by purchasing their products. Small changes in your everyday life can add up to make a significant positive impact.