Bioplastics are a hot topic among recyclers — especially biodegradable resins. Are processors paying attention?
Dordan Manufacturing Co. Inc., a thermoformer in Woodstock, Ill., has been studying the issue for some time, and Chandler Slavin, the company's sustainability coordinator, recently posted a thoughtful item on the topic.
Her post on GreenerPackage.com compares bioplastics like polylactic acid to conventional resins like PET.
“Taken together, one would assume that … PLA is a more sustainable option than traditional plastics, as manifest through this study,” she wrote. “However, it is important to take into account the other dimensions discussed above, such as end-of-life management, complete biodegradation, and sustainable sourcing.
“By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of bio-based resins from an environmental perspective, packaging professionals can make informed material selections and truly comprehend the ecological ramifications of their packaging selections and designs.”
It's nice to see a processor taking the time to do the research into the pros and cons of using bioplastics. I know that Dordan isn't alone.
I get a few phone calls a month from processors with questions about what materials are “most sustainable,” and I know others at Plastics News get the same question.
As I wrote back in January, I think most processors are willing and able to adapt to their customers' materials-related sustainability goals — they just need information and guidance.
Processors are flexible about using recycled content, or bio-based resins, or switching from one virgin material to another. It all depends on cost, performance and what the customer wants.
Streak over for US manufacturing?
Reports that China will overtake the United States as the largest manufacturing nation in the world are getting a lot of attention.
And why not? The U.S. took the No. 1 spot from Great Britain in the 1890s, and has held the top position ever since.
110 years sounds like quite a streak, but prior to Great Britain taking the crown in the 1850s, China had probably held the title for 1,500 years!
“If you have a country with four times the population of the U.S. and a tenth of the wages, it is fairly obvious they will pull ahead at some time in productive capabilities,” economist Hal Sirkin told the Daily Mail.
Put into that perspective, the U.S. loss doesn't seem as significant.
Still, it's no surprise that the data from IHS Global Insight is getting attention.
There are plenty of experts lamenting the weakness in the U.S. manufacturing sector, and the fact that it's China taking the crown will feed the complaints that China doesn't play fair on the global stage.
Loepp is managing editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.”