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Polystyrene Recycling Partnership Spurred By Demand For Post-Consumer Content

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 21. August 2014

Here are at least two companies making significant efforts to promote the recyclability of polystyrene and trying to halt the emergence of bans particularly for EPS foam in the food-service sector.

 

With a focus on the residential recycling stream and spurred by increasing demand for post-consumer content in food-service packaging and related applications, a new facility that will process both rigid polystyrene and EPS foam is being built  by Dart Container, Mason, Mich., and Plastics Recycling, Inc., (PRI) Indianapolis, Ind. The former is a manufacturer of a broad range of quality, single-use products for the food service, retail and food packaging industries and the world’s largest manufacturer of foam cups, while the latter has established itself as one of the nation’s largest and forward-thinking PS recyclers. The partnership is said to be ideal as it combines Dart’s washing technology for reclaimed PS and PRI’s recycling and compounding expertise.

 

Slated to be fully on stream within the first quarter of 2015, the facility will initially have a 25-million lb/yr capacity but is being designed to allow for growth. It will essentially boost PRI’s existing annual 60-million/lb EPS and PS recycling capacity at the Indianapolis site to 85 million/lbs. PRI’s owner Alan Shaw views the largely untapped residential recycling stream as a tremendous source for generating more of this valuable material. The facility is expected by the partners to enhance local governments’ ability to launch recycling efforts to remove rigid PS and EPS from the waste stream and generate revenue.

 

For its part, Dart Container has been strongly advocating the recyclability of PS in the last several months in an effort to convince municipalities across the country to bring the material into recycling steams instead of enacting bans restricting the use of foam in foodservice settings. By the end of 2013, the company had helped lobby legislators in New York who were considering a ban. The Big Apple ultimately decided to wait a year and test out the practicality of bringing foam products into the municipal recycling system. Although the tests are not as yet underway, Dart Container and PRI feel that the expanded operation in Indianapolis will prove a big boon as it will be the destination for recovered PS from New York City if the program gets underway.

 

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s "Plaspec Global materials database".

 

 

BMW Ups Its Stake in Composites

By: Matthew H. Naitove 20. August 2014

BMW continues its exploration of large composite parts for lightweight automotive structures. It just installed a 3600-metric-ton model of the new v-duo vertical v-duo two-platen injection press from Engel Austria (U.S. office in York, Pa.), a smaller version of which was shown at K 2013 in Dusseldorf (see our January show report). The machine was delivered to BMW’s plant in Landshut, Germany, where it will be used to mold large structural elements from fiber composites using the HP-RTM (high-pressure RTM) process. This process injects liquid reactive components for thermosets (epoxy or polyurethane) or thermoplastics (caprolactam for in-situ polymerization into nylon 6) over a layup of dry reinforcing mats or fabrics. BMW plans to use the Engel press for thermoset composites, but would not specify the resin system.

 

The press has two slide tables to remove finished parts and insert fiber reinforcements. Engel notes that the machine has a much smaller weight, footprint, and height than typical vertical compression presses. The clamp unit is accessible from all four sides instead of just two. The press uses ecodrive servo-driven hydraulic pumps for energy efficiency, without any hydraulic accumulators.

‘There are no unskilled jobs here anymore’

By: Tony Deligio 20. August 2014

Completed in conjunction with the Manufacturing Institute, the study, which was conducted between August 2013 and January 2014, surveyed more than 300 manufacturing executives hailing from companies with an average annual revenue of $100 million.

 

Cervinka’s quote highlights the predicament those manufacturers currently find themselves in. The jobs they need to fill are becoming more and more complex while the pool of people who can do them becomes more and more shallow.

 

The survey found that 80% of manufacturers reported a moderate to severe shortage in finding highly skilled workers, while at the same time, skilled and highly skilled roles make up 80% of their workforce.

 

As these companies face a labor shortfall, many are simultaneously attempting to boost production. According to the report, more than 50% of companies reported plans to increase U.S. based production by at least 5% in the next five years. In general, the U.S. manufacturing sector has enjoyed an annual growth rate of 7.7% between 2009 and 2011, reaching its highest level ever at more than $5.4 trillion in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis – Manufacturing Industry Data. Productivity in the U.S. has jumped nearly 20% from 2001 to 2011, increasing is every year save two—2008 and 2009—according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited by Accenture.

 

That’s despite the very real, and detrimental, impact of too few skilled workers. According to the report, 62% of respondents saw an increase in production downtime of 5% or more, while 66% reported cycle time increases of 5% or more.

 

Survey participants are actively working to address the gap, however, with almost 10% spending more than $5,000 annually per employee on skills training, with the average respondent spending about $1,000 annually per employee for skills training.

 

The report also identified some best practices companies are deploying to address the skills shortfall.

 

Digital learning experiences—“Embracing digital technologies to offer learning experiences anytime, anywhere.”

 

Combine formal and informal training—“All of the leading companies we interviewed had some form of established relationships with local community colleges or vocational technical programs.”

 

Use a certification approach to skills building—“Not only do employers gain confidence that their employees are able to perform at a given level of skill, employees gain confidence in their own abilities as they acquire new skills certifications.”

 

The bottom line is the gap is actually impacting companies’ bottom lines, with the report finding that earnings were reduced up to 11% annually due to increased production costs and revenue losses due to skills shortages. The problem will only get worse, with the U.S. Department of Labor stating the average age of manufacturing labor was 44.1 years in 2011.

 

In our September issue, Plastics Technology will see how some plastics processors are attempting to bridge the gap. Does your company have a contingency plan?

 

 

Machine-Hour Rates Report Awaits Your Participation

By: Matthew H. Naitove 20. August 2014

We’re getting close, but still not there yet. Maybe it’s due to summer vacations, but more custom injection molders still need to provide data (anonymously) on their midyear machine-hour rates before our next survey can be published. I know from your emails that you find our survey report—broken down by machine size and region of the country—valuable and unique (it’s available nowhere else). But you have to give something to get something. So go online now and take five minutes to fill out the survey here. If we hear from enough of you in the next week or so, we’ll be able to get the report out on time in October.

 

Thanks!

Single-Serve Wine Spritzer in Plasma-Coated PET

By: Matthew H. Naitove 19. August 2014

When it comes to barrier containers, the smaller the package volume, the greater the relative surface area and the more challenging it is to achieve barrier protection. A case in point is a new 330-ml PET screw-top bottle for wine spritzers, which must retain carbonation to preserve the “spritz” as well as prevent oxygen ingress that would spoil the wine.

 

That was the challenge facing Amcor Rigid Plastics, Ann Arbor, Mich., in designing the bottle for Andrew Peller Ltd., Grimsby, Ont., a Canadian wine producer and marketer. Its wines are made from grapes grown in Ontario, British Columbia, and around the world. Its new skinnygrape line of ready-to-drink wine coolers are low-calorie drinks aimed largely at women. That factor determined the slender, comfortable shape of the custom PET bottles. Barrier properties are afforded by an ultrathin <100 nm) silicon oxide (SiOx) plasma coating applied to the inside of the bottle, which is clear, resistant to cracking and delamination, and does not degrade over time. This glass coating is applied using technology from KHS Plasmax GmbH in Germany (U.S. office in Waukesha, Wis.).




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