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SPE names Environmental Stewardship Award winners

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March 27, 2013

NEW ORLEANS — The Society of Plastics Engineers' Plastics Environmental Division recognized seven companies with 2013 Environmental Stewardship Awards, honoring them for their work improving the environment.

The organization presented the awards March 21 at the Global Plastics Environmental Conference in New Orleans.

Two industry giants, Mondelez International Inc. and General Motors, won the Daniel Eberhardt Environmental Stewardship Award, awarded by SPE to a company that "has made outstanding contributions to the improvement of the environment [and] shown special leadership in various aspects of sustainability."

Mondelez, the former Kraft Foods Inc., was honored for being "a legacy company leading in sustainability of various aspects of packaging and supply chain management."

Mondelez, based in Deerfield, Ill., says its sustainable actions include investments in recycling technology, supporting environmental packaging organizations, and working with other industry players to set industry guidelines on sourcing bio-plastics and quantifying packaging sustainability measurements.

Mondelez says it has also reduced packaging by about 45 million pounds, cut energy usage by 3 percent, carbon dioxide emissions by 6 percent, water usage by 3 percent and manufacturing waste by 18 percent since 2010.

Detroit-based General Motors was recognized as a leader in several aspects of plastics and environmental sustainability.

GM says it currently recycles 90 percent of its global manufacturing waste and operates 103 landfill-free facilities, with plans to have 125 landfill-free sites by 2020. The company has generated about $1 billion in reuse and recycling revenue from its byproducts and eliminated $10 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2011.

The company's landfill-free program has led to some creative recycling and reuse projects, including converting scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers into nesting boxes for ducks and donating scrap polypropylene fiber material, originally used for sound absorption in vehicles, to insulate coats for the homeless.

Two companies earned awards in the Plastic Recycling Technologies and Applications category — plastic bag major and recycler Hilex Poly Co. LLC and MCS Industries Inc., a supplier of wall décor.

MCS, based in Easton, Pa., converts post-consumer scrap materials that can be difficult to recycle, like expanded polystyrene foam packaging and large printer cartridges, into picture frames, making use of materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Hilex was recognized for its Bag-2-Bag closed-loop recycling program, which recovers high-density polyethylene, low density polyethylene and liner low density polyethylene bags and films and uses the recycled material in the production of new carryout bags.

The Hartsville, S.C.,-based company says its program is the largest closed loop recycling plant in the industry and diverts more than 20 million pounds from landfills annually.

Research and development firm Interfacial Solutions won the Plastics from Renewables award for their development of new technology for recycling polylactic acid.

Interfacial's reactive hyper-branching technology counteracts any molecular weight loss caused by hydraulic degradation of recycled PLA during melt processing, allowing for repeated melt processing without pre-drying.

The River Falls, Wis., firm says its technology works for a wide variety of pre- and post-industrial recycled PLA waste streams and is more-or-less universally applicable for recycled PLA resin recovery, regardless of origin.

Infiltrator Systems Inc., a manufacturer of drainage chambers used in wastewater systems, won the Chairman's Award for its large-scale recycling operation.

The company, based in Old Saybrook, Conn., says it uses more than 150 million pounds of post-consumer and post-industrial recycled plastics in its products every year.

Avery Dennison Corp. was awarded the Design for Sustainability award for it's new line of pressure-sensitive adhesive labels for PET bottles.

The labels use a newly-developed line of "switchable adhesives" that bond to PET until that bond is broken during the recycling process. The labels will then release cleanly and be captured during the wash process, said Laura Clark, director of marketing for food and beverage for Avery Dennison's labels and packaging materials division.

The labels were designed specifically for PET recyclability for food-contact applications, she said, while accepting the award.

The Pasadena, Calif.-based company said the labels will help brands adhere to design for recyclability guidelines, and have been endorsed by the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, the National Association for PET Container Resources and other trade organizations.