|To: richardred who wrote (16)||11/22/2006 3:23:15 PM|
|From: Sam Citron|
|Why it's not easy being green|
Recyclers go after 'natural' firm, NatureWorks. Fortune's Marc Gunther reports.
By Marc Gunther, Fortune senior writer
November 2 2006: 11:13 AM EST
NEW YORK (Fortune) -- As Kermit the Frog likes to say, "It's Not Easy Bein' Green."
Not even if you have the best of intentions
Just ask NatureWorks, a unit of agribusiness giant Cargill that sells a renewable and compostable plastic packaging material that is made from corn. Environmentalists like the product, which is known as PLA, because it is a substitute for petroleum-based plastics. Wal-Mart (Charts), Wild Oats Markets (Charts), Del Monte (Charts) and Newman's Own are among the big brands that have embraced PLA.
A bottled water company called Biota, which uses PLA bottles, boasts that its spring water "is the World's First bottled water/beverage packaged in a Planet Friendly bottle."
Not so fast, say critics.
While bottles made from PLA sound good, they don't work well with today's recycling systems, which are geared up to recycle bottles made of an oil-based plastic called PET. So a coalition of recycling groups has called on NatureWorks to stop selling PLA for bottles until the bio-resin's recyclability has been demonstrated.
"We told them, don't go down the road with bottles," says Eric Lombardi, the executive director of Eco-cycle, a nonprofit recycler in Boulder, CO., and president of the Grassroots Recycling Network.
If NatureWorks does not cooperate with recyclers, Lombardi warns, "We will educate the public to avoid products bottled in PLA."
Yes, it's not easy being green - or even agreeing what is green.
For some uses, PLA is clearly superior to oil-based plastics. You can serve a meal on plates and cups made with PLA, eat it with plastic silverware made with PLA, and throw all the food and waste into a compost pile, where it will decompose.
PLA made by NatureWorks, which is based in Minnetonka, MN, winds up in the packages used to hold fruits and vegetables at Wal-Mart, tubs of lettuce for Newman's Own Organics, and in Del Monte fresh-cut produce. Mrs. Fields stores put smoothies in PLA cups. PLA also finds its way into bedding, clothing and furniture, and it is selling in Europe and Asia as well as in North America.
NatureWorks' sales have grown at an average annual rate of 45 percent over the past four years, according to Mary Rosenthal, global communications leader for the firm.
"Once oil got over $40 a barrel, we became price competitive with petroleum based resins," she says. "Oil is a finite resource. This, we can keep growing every year."
Good for the earth, bad for recyclers
But bottles made of PLA cause problems for recyclers for a couple of reasons. First, they can't be easily separated from bottles made of oil-based PET, the most commonly used material in clear, plastic bottles. (Costly infrared sorting equipment will separate the two, but many small-scale recyclers separate different plastics by mechanical methods or even by hand.) Too many PLA bottles will contaminate the PET waste.
Second, PET is a valuable commodity - it can be sold for 15 or 20 cents a pound, and makes up 10 percent of the revenues of some recycling centers. The sale of recycled commodities helps finance the curbside pickup of bottles, cans and paper.
"We've worked hard for many years to make the economics work," explains Tim Brownell, chief operating officer of Eureka Recycling, a nonprofit that manages the recycling program in St. Paul, MN.
The recycling activists can't be easily dismissed. They have a presence in thousands of communities, and joined with environmental groups and social investors to convince Coca-Cola (Charts) to use recycled content in its PET bottles.
The big beverage companies also have a stake in PET. Scott Vitters, director of sustainable packaging for Coca-Cola, says of PET, "It's a very good environmental package...We have invested a significant amount of money in recycled content PET technology development and commercialization." But, he admits, PET is not sustainable in the truest sense because it's made from petroleum.
For its part, NatureWorks says it will continue talking with recyclers. "We intend to be very careful about putting this new material into the recycling stream," says Rosenthal.
But, as environmentalists scrutinized PLA, the company will have to prepare itself for other questions, too. Should PLA be made from corn, which requires lots of energy to grow and is frequently genetically modified, or could it be made from discarded agricultural or forestry feedstock? Can PLA be better labeled so that it is composted rather than thrown away? Can NatureWorks do more to promote local composting sites that would keep food waste and PLA out of landfills?
Gary Liss, a recycling industry consultant and an advocate of "Zero Waste" - meaning that everything we throw away gets recycled or reused - warns that PLA, especially in bottles, could end up creating as many problems as it solves.
"Don't introduce these into the system," Liss says "until you can figure out a way to identify them and keep them out of a whole elaborate system that has been developed."
Such questions reflect a fuller understanding of sustainability, which encompasses how products are made and consumed and where they end up.
As Kermit says, it's not easy being green.
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|To: Sam Citron who wrote (17)||11/23/2006 1:29:55 AM|
|Very good points, and point I was wondering myself. The ability of the material to recycle. |
I own some Wellman currently. One of the biggest recyclers of pet bottles. I'm sitting will a loss this time around. If things don't improve there. It may have to file 11.
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|To: richardred who wrote (18)||11/23/2006 8:51:30 AM|
|From: Sam Citron|
|If PLA is backyard compostable, that suggests to me that it should be placed with ordinary trash and dumped in a landfill, rather than being seperated out and placed with the PET recyclables.|
A friend of mine works at Gap, San Francisco, where I am told they use PLA cutlery and other material in the employee cafeteria. I may have to ask her to get me a spoon for a backyard recycling experiment in my compost pile, which is a vermiculture breeding lab at the moment. ;-)
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|To: richardred who wrote (18)||11/29/2006 11:24:12 AM|
|Wellman Introduces Titanium PET Resins|
Wednesday November 29, 8:20 am ET
SHREWSBURY, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Wellman, Inc. (NYSE: WLM - News), the largest producer of PET resins in the U.S., announces the introduction of its new PermaClearTi ® packaging resin at PET Strategies in Atlanta. This titanium based, antimony-free product is specifically designed for the carbonated soft drink industry. The new product compliments Wellman's ThermaClearTi®, the premier titanium based resin for hot fill packaging.
Wellman researchers focused on exploiting the polymer properties and performance advantages offered by titanium catalyst. This created a line of patented resins, which are unlocking the potential of PET. Titanium provides significant bottle enhancement opportunities over traditional antimony catalyst systems, which have been the market standard.
According to Michael Dewsbury, Vice President of U.S. PET Resins, "Titanium based PET resins will become the new industry standard as it provides significant bottle enhancement opportunities to our customers over traditional antimony catalyst systems."
Jim Bruening, Wellman's Director of PET Resins Research and Development stated, "Titanium based PET resin is Wellman's strategic technology platform and we believe the industry will follow, making titanium the catalyst of choice. Using PermaClearTi ® and ThermaClearTi® titanium resins will allow our customers to raise filling temperatures, reduce AA, reduce injection cycle times by up to 10%, and provide light weighting opportunities, while increasing clarity"
Wellman commercially produces these patented titanium based PET resins at its world scale plants in Florence, South Carolina and Pearl River, Mississippi.
Wellman, Inc. manufactures and markets high-quality polyester products, including PermaClear® brand PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging resins and Fortrel® brand polyester fibers.
ThermaClearTi ® and PermaClearTi ® are registered trademarks of Wellman, Inc.
Statements contained in this release that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In addition, words such as "believes," "expects," "anticipates," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are made as of the date hereof based upon current expectations, and we undertake no obligation to update the information contained herein. These forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties, including, but not limited to: reduced raw material margins; availability and cost of raw materials; reduced sales volumes; increase in costs; polyester staple fiber, textile and PET resin imports; the actions of our competitors; the financial condition of our customers; availability of financing, changes in financial markets, interest rates, credit ratings, tax risks; environmental risks and foreign currency exchange rates; regulatory changes; U.S., European, Asian and global economic conditions; prices and volumes of PET resin imports; work stoppages; levels of production capacity and profitable operations of assets; prices of competing products; natural disasters and acts of terrorism; and maintaining the operations of our existing production facilities. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed herein. Results of operations in any past period should not be considered indicative of results to be expected in future periods. Fluctuations in operating results may result in fluctuations in the price of our common stock. For a more complete description of the prominent risks and uncertainties inherent in our business, see our Form 10-K/A for the year ended December 31, 2005.
Investor Relations Officer
Source: Wellman, Inc.
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|From: richardred||11/30/2006 8:40:06 AM|
|Sonoco Products to Buy Clear Pack|
Thursday November 30, 8:36 am ET
Sonoco Products to Acquire Clear Pack to Expand Rigid Plastic Container Operations
HARTSVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- Sonoco Products Co., an industrial and consumer packaging company, Thursday said it agreed to acquire Clear Pack Co., a privately held maker of extruded plastic materials and containers, for undisclosed terms.
Clear Pack, with annual sales of about $45 million, operates a 240,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehouse facility in Franklin Park, Ill. It produces plastic containers for several consumer product and food service companies, including packaging for single-serve condiments and fresh produce.
"This strategic acquisition significantly expands Sonoco's rigid plastic capabilities," said Charles Sullivan, executive vice president, in a statement.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending regulatory approval, and is expected to add slightly to earnings in 2007.
Sonoco Products has about $3.5 billion in annual sales.
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|From: richardred||12/4/2006 10:30:04 AM|
|12/04 08:47 DJ Dow Chem To End Distribution Pact With Ashland Unit >ASH|
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Ashland Inc. (ASH) said Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) plans to terminate, on March 1, its agreement with the company's Ashland Distribution unit for the distribution of Dow plastics in North America.
The Covington, Ky., chemical company said Monday that fiscal 2006 purchases under the agreement totaled $170 million, or about 5% of Ashland Distribution's materials purchases. Ashland Distribution also has a plastics distribution contract with Dow in Europe, under which it bought $60 million of plastics in fiscal 2006, which the company said "could at some point be impacted."
Ashland said it plans to "agressively pursue retention" of the customers affected by Dow's decision, with the support of its plastics manufacturer partners.
Ashland's shares closed Friday down 38 cents at $67.99, after reaching a 52- week high of $68.70 earlier in the session.
-Tom Rojas; 201-938-5400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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|From: richardred||12/4/2006 10:38:58 AM|
|New range of plastics products for packaging|
A British producer of custom made extruded sheet and plastics films introduces a new range of products for the packaging industry.
At Emballage 2006 in Paris through a number of new product introductions, Rob Harris, the Managing Director of VitasheetGroup, and his team demonstrated their commitment, “We want to be our customer’s first choice of supply”.
A British Vita company, VitasheetGroup is Europe’s largest producer of custom made extruded sheet and films in an extensive range of polymers, including styrenics (PS, HIPS), ABS, polyolefins (PP, PE), polyester (APET, PETG), agropolymers and many specialist compounds and alloys
Find Information and Suppliers of plastics films.
• ViPrint* Nature, a PP sheet enhanced with natural wood fillers, adds a new dimension to luxury carton applications giving the designer an extended choice of products to meet the latest market trends.
• ViForm* Clear BLS 434, a PET G/A/G is a new and cost effective solution that broadens the VitasheetGroup PET product range, offering the best of PETG and APET including excellent sealability.
• ViForm* Bio 9100, (made with NatureWorks** PLA) white sheet for printing with improved die cutting characteristics. This bio-degradable product can be used in a wide range of applications from luxury cartons to horticulture.
• ViForm* Decor laminates, a range of new and fashionable finishes for luxury packaging differentiation.
ViForm™ Decor laminates finishes for luxury packaging differentiation
ViForm* Decor laminates, a range of new and fashionable finishes for luxury packaging differentiation. Click Go for High resolution image. photo: VitasheetGroup
VitasheetGroup is dedicated to leadership of the European thermoplastic sheet business and being number one in product development, service and environmentally friendly solutions and will open a new and unified European Research and Development Centre located at its Metzeler site in Julich near Dusseldorf, Germany, before the end of this year.
Ease of access to a versatile product range
Since the consolidation of the 13 businesses of British Vita PLC, VitasheetGroup has focused on providing its customers with easy access to a versatile range of products that have the breadth and flexibility to cover a wide range of industry segments and applications.
Emballage 2006 provides the perfect platform to demonstrate its comprehensive range of packaging products that are designed to meet the needs of the Medical, Luxury, Food, General purpose, Printing and Material Handling markets.
This prestigious exhibition is a unique occasion for all of its customers to acquaint themselves with not only the new introductions, but also exciting products, like Conductive PS sheet for electronic packaging and an extensive range of printable PS sheet. These products, formerly available from companies known as; Royalite, Metzeler Plastics, Iroplast, Esbjerg Thermoplast, Doeflex, Gaillon and Carolex, are now easily accessible from the consolidated VitasheetGroup.
Drawing on its European-wide market network, VitasheetGroup, the leader in thermoplastic sheet and film products, is able to support customers with a comprehensive and in-depth working knowledge of materials, processes and end-use applications with the additional benefits of rapid local response, backed by extensive and detailed support from across the region.
* ViPrint and ViForm are trademarks of VitasheetGroup Ltd.
** NatureWorks is a registered trademark of NatureWorks llc.
Find information about VitasheetGroup.
Read a recent press release about - At the NanoSolutions trade fair Baytubes operations to showcase a cost effective production process that improves the properties of plastics.
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|From: richardred||12/26/2006 7:30:01 PM|
|California cities say goodbye to styrofoam containers|
By Mary Anne Ostrom
San Jose Mercury News
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Take-out junkies beware. Hoping to get the plastic out of fast food, San Francisco and Oakland are about to ban food establishments from using styrofoam.
The cities say it's not a war on fast-food joints, but a common sense step to stem plastics pollution at a time when new biodegradable alternatives are coming to market.
Polystyrene foam, better known as styrofoam, is just the start. In Oakland and San Francisco, the new laws not only ban the foam but also encourage food establishments to reduce their use of all plastic in favor of materials that are biodegradable or can be composted, such as SpudWare, the trademark for cutlery made of potato-starch.
Banning polystyrene has been on the political agenda for years. Berkeley led the nation with the first such ban more than a generation ago. Now, Oakland will enact a ban Jan 1., followed by San Francisco on June 1. San Jose environmental officials are closely watching what other cities are doing. And other cities, including Emeryville, Livermore and Capitola, have shown an interest in bans, too, all in the name of reducing plastic waste in landfills and the environment.
"Plastics are again high-profile," said Lanny Clavecilla, a spokesman for California's Integrated Waste Management Board. "You're seeing more attention in the area of how big a problem plastic is in pollution."
Paper and cardboard make it under the new rules, as do those traditional Chinese take-out boxes. But new plant-based products made of sugar cane, bamboo and rice pulp and other organic materials, dubbed bio-plastics, are even more environmentally friendly, they say.
Already the Oakland A's use biodegradable beverage cups, and at the University of California-Berkeley, dorm residents do take-out in bamboo products. Yahoo and the NUMMI car plant are among a growing number of local companies whose cafeterias use "bio-plastic" utensils, bowls and plates made from fermented corn or potato starch mixed with soy oil, or bagasse, a fibrous waste left over from processing sugar cane.
Food sellers who don't comply with the new laws could face fines as high as $250 in San Francisco and $500 in Oakland.
By encouraging alternatives to polystyrene, a growing number of California cities hope to reduce the amount of slowly degrading plastics in landfills. San Jose, Palo Alto and Gilroy years ago weighed bans. Instead, they opted to increase plastics recycling. But if San Jose develops a zero-waste policy, as other California cities are now doing, San Jose could consider a polystyrene ban, too, said Lindsey Wolf of the city's environmental services department.
Polystyrene foam containers and cups continue to be a major source of litter, say local environmental groups.
Small-restaurant owners who cater to take-out customers say alternatives - such as plant-based packaging or even paper cups - don't work as well and are considerably more expensive. Oakland officials estimate using polystyrene alternatives could add 30 cents to the cost of a meal.
"The customers might like it, but it costs more. It's not business-friendly," Adam Kwan, a manager at San Francisco Chinatown's Yee's Restaurant, said as his workers prepared lunch orders of duck and chicken in polystyrene foam containers.
But Enrique Arrieta, a tourist from Peru, called it "an excellent idea," as he ate his sweet-and-sour chicken lunch from such a container. "I don't like eating from this stuff. It doesn't feel natural."
The industry-backed Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group says polystyrene foam can be recycled, though it's costly, and polystyrene producers are involved in anti-litter campaigns to address governments' concerns. Group director Mike Levy says consider "that you have to put on two java sleeves or a second cup" to hold hot coffee in a paper cup. He argues, that's hardly reducing trash.
In a December 2004 report to the California state Legislature, the state's Integrated Waste Management Board concluded that the state needed a more comprehensive approach to managing all plastic waste, not just polystyrene foam. "While bans may help solve immediate problems, they are generally not an effective long-term solution," the report said. The current board has no position on the recent city bans.
With an estimated 3,400 restaurants in San Francisco alone, some supporters say the new big-city bans will put a spotlight on the Bay Area and could help a fledgling industry of "green" food packaging. Most such packaging is now imported from Asia, where its use is commonplace.
Oakland already is working with Bay Area restaurant suppliers to stock bio-based alternatives and as demand increases, they predict prices will fall.
"Many Bay Area companies want to be green," said Allen King, whose Excellent Packaging & Supply markets SpudWare and other environmentally sensitive products to food-service companies. "The municipal bans will have a bigger impact."
WEIGHING PROS, CONS
The battle to ban polystyrene food containers (better known as styrofoam) in the Bay Area spans two decades. Berkeley was the first in the nation, in 1990. Oakland will institute its ban Jan 1. San Francisco follows June 1. Officials in San Jose and other Santa Clara County cities have considered bans over the years, but instead backed recycling alternatives.
_Polystyrene food packaging represents about 15 percent of the litter in the California storm-drain system.
_It takes several decades to 100 years to deteriorate in the environment or landfill. The recycling rate for such packaging in California was 0.2 percent in 2001.
_Biodegradable alternatives are being developed.
_The California Integrated Waste Management Board in 2004 stated that while bans "may help solve immediate problems, they are generally not an effective long-term solution" and called for a comprehensive approach to plastics pollution.
_Alternatives are more expensive; Oakland officials estimate the ban will add 30 cents to the cost of a take-out meal.
_Some restaurant owners say it's the cheapest and best product to keep food hot, which can help avoid bacteria growth.
Sources: Mercury News reporting; the California Integrated Waste Management Board
DOING YOUR PART
_Lug your own mug when getting beverages to go. Many popular Bay Area coffeehouses already use paper in place of styrofoam. Regardless, ask for a discount. You're saving them on garbage or dishwashing costs.
_If you take food home, bring along your own Tupperware-style container. You've got a better chance of avoiding spills, too.
_Look for restaurants and take-out joints that use easy-to-recycle packaging.
_Ask your favorite restaurants to consider using containers that are biodegradable or can be composted.
_If you are heading straight home to eat, decline the plastic flatware, napkins and chopsticks if you've got a supply in the kitchen.
_For more tips, go to Californians Against Waste at cawrecycles.org or bringyourown.org.
© 2006, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).
Visit MercuryNews.com, the World Wide Web site of the Mercury News, at mercurynews.com.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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|From: richardred||3/19/2007 12:00:08 AM|
|Metabolix awaits FDA approval, plans brand initiative|
By Tony Deligio
Orlando, FL — Currently qualifying 50 applications with 30 different companies, biobased material supplier Metabolix (Cambridge, MA) is quickly ramping up for the opening of its Clinton, IA production facility in the third or fourth quarter 2008 (for an initial report on Metabolix, see March 16, 2006 e-Weekly). During presentations at the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE; Brookfield, CT) Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC; March 6-7, Orlando), Kristin Taylor, Metabolix business development manager, said that in addition to injection molding, cast sheet for thermoforming, and paper coating, Metabolix is working to commercialize PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) grades for blown, cast, and oriented films as well as foams. The plant, which is a joint venture with Archer Daniels Midland, will have an initial production capacity of 110 million lb, with room to expand four times beyond that.
Taylor said the company currently supplies development samples from a 15,000 lb/month pilot plant, with that line doubling to 30,000 lb/month in April. This time last year, the company was quoting a tentative price of $1.20/lb, but it’s now estimating $2 to $3/lb costs, given increases in the price of ethanol, which is introduced to the microbials that create the PHA, and the decision to run the plant on wind energy and the burning of biomass, promoting a greener footprint than the original coal-fired plans, if higher costs.
April will be a busy month for the company, with plans to release results of a third-party lifecycle analysis and the launch of a brand name and product logo, according to Taylor. As of now, the material meets U.S. (ASTM D64001) and European (EN 13432) composting standards, with Taylor saying it biodegrades faster than polylactic acid (PLA) in an anaerobic landfill environment. Metabolix expects to be granted food-contact approval in the fourth quarter of 2007. The company currently has 320 approved and 100 pending patents for the material, which was originally conceived 20 years ago at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Taylor says PHA is a natural polyester that isn’t as clear as PLA, but has a heat-deflection temperature above 100°C, which is key for hot beverage packaging and other applications. Currently, the material is manufactured by feeding microbes corn sugar, which prompts them to generate the polymer and store it as we store fat. By dry weight, 90% of the end product is PHA plastic, and the other 10% are microbes that are burned off to power production, along with corn stalks and other biomass. The eventual goal is to grow the plastic directly in switchgrass. Metabolix is already doing this in a greenhouse in Cambridge, but commercial-scale production of this type is still four to eight years out, according to Taylor, with this process promising to lower the material costs.
When two other papers fell through, Taylor filled her allotted slot and two more to a standing-room-only crowd at the Florida Conference Center. Due to the response, she was asked to offer the paper again later in the day, when a break had originally been scheduled, once again to an overflow crowd.—email@example.com
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