In an effort to boost environmental sustainability, several plastic bag manufacturers are pursuing proactive, self-policing steps toward green packaging.
Joseph Greene, a Chico, Calif., plastics industry consultant and research academian, heads nonprofit company Sustainable Green Products Inc., which was formed at the request of the bag manufacturers.
The firm's program for sustainable packaging succeeds the environmentally preferred rating program, known as EPR, that has been in existence since 2005. The company filed incorporation papers May 19 with the state of California.
Greene believes plastic bag makers must be proactive and deal effectively with environmental pollution, landfill content, outright bag bans and per-bag fees facing the industry.
Enough firms have committed to launch the sustainable program, said Greene, who presented the concept at a Sept. 15 meeting of the California Film Extruders and Converters Association in Norwalk.
Greene gave attendees a choice: If you don't think it will work, conversation over. If you think it will work, we need to proceed.
Everyone there thought [the program is] important and something they should consider, Greene said. They saw that this type of idea can make sense for the plastics bag industry.
In addition to being president and a director of Sustainable Green, Greene is president of consultancy Greene Plastics and Composites Engineering Co. In his academic and research roles, Greene is professor of manufacturing technology and mechanical engineering and director of polymer manufacturing at California State University in Chico, known as Chico State.
The underlying motivation for me is to help the plastics industry, Greene said in a telephone interview. We need to show good faith for the environmental side of plastics.
Staff members in the California regulatory community understand Greene's efforts. I am respected in Sacramento, he said. They value my input.
In coming months, Greene plans to introduce a sustainable-packaging logo and a certification form, make final program changes and begin a marketing campaign. Audits start in January, with successful participants qualifying to use the logo, certification and carbon-reduction Green Star designation in business and marketing messages.
Greene said processors show good faith if they annually reduce a plant's carbon footprint by 10 percent and waste diversion by 50 percent.
Compared with the EPR effort, the sustainable-packaging program is a more complete energy, waste, and regulatory audit that plastics companies need [in order] to be more competitive in our environmentally conscious marketplace, Greene said.
Since 2005, under CFECA's auspices, Greene has completed two EPR audits each of operations at Command Packaging in Vernon, Calif.; Roplast Industries Inc. of Oroville, Calif.; Crown Poly Inc. of Huntington Park, Calif.; and Lone Star Plastics Inc.'s plant in Garland, Texas.
Greene conducted single EPR audits of Lone Star's Prattville, Ala., facility; Heritage Bag Co.'s plant in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Inteplast Group Ltd.'s Lolita, Texas, plant; Montebello Plastics Inc. of Montebello, Calif.; and Poly Pak America Inc. of Los Angeles.
CFECA has charged $5,000 to audit a single plant under EPR guidelines and $2,500 for each of an audited company's additional locations. Greene anticipates charging $5,000 for each sustainable audit.
Four of the companies have agreed to sign up for sustainable auditing during 2010, and Greene is working to enroll others including past EPR participants.
In addition to Greene, the four other directors of Sustainable Green are:
* Robert Bateman, president of Roplast Industries.
* Frank Ruiz, president of Plastimin LLC of Carrollton, Texas, and research and development consultant for extruder and bag maker Heritage Bag Co. and PVC pipe extruder Heritage Plastics Inc.
* Brian Smith, operations manager of Fafco Inc. in Chico, a manufacturer of polyolefin heat exchangers and solar panels for swimming pool and potable water heating.
* Daren Otten, lecturer and manufacturing technology program coordinator at Chico State and previously president of Development Technologies Inc. of Magalia, Calif.
In addition to packaging, Greene envisions the nonprofit company setting up separate sustainability-auditing programs for makers of bottles, toys and sneakers. He also wants to cover different materials.
I am trying to not be just a plastics guy, Greene said. I want to be a sustainable green guy.
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