Josh Jones' first plastics job, a packaging engineer internship with Niagara Bottling, sparked his passion for plastics packaging, as it exposed him to "state-of-the-art, high-speed bottling equipment."
"Learning how each of the components of the package were made through advancements in material science combined with equipment expertise opened many ideas to me as to the opportunities of new innovation. I spent many hours learning about injection molding, stretch blow molding, stretch film pallet wraps, shrink films and labels," said Jones, 26, who created new test methods for evaluating stresses on bottles on the line, in the warehouse and in distribution.
Jones graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor's degree in packaging science and a business administration minor. He also held a packaging co-op at Conagra Foods in Nebraska, and he was a packaging technical services and development intern for Dow Inc. in Freeport, Texas.
He was then a TS&D research specialist for Dow, publishing eight internal research reports, then became the lead TS&D research specialist.
"My greatest achievement is designing, formulating and launching a new polymer product containing post-consumer recycled material for injection molding. In the plastics industry, this takes a significant amount of streamlined effort throughout the value chain from converters to brand owners," he said. "Going through this process as a young engineer has created many new learnings of the complexities of enabling sustainable solutions in an industry whose infrastructure is optimized around virgin polymers."
Jones also belongs to the International Society of Beverage Technologists and participates in the sustainable packaging subcommittee.
Q: One of our criteria for Rising Stars is whether they are active in plastics industry, manufacturing or their community. How are you involved?
Jones: I am very active in the plastics industry through my job in rigid packaging technical services and development. I am consistently traveling to customer molding trials at manufacturing facilities, testing new plastic products, reading technical papers and attending relevant conferences. In my community, I routinely donate blood, serve at the local food bank and volunteer time to pick up trash at Surfside Beach, Texas.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Jones: The rise of fresh food delivery meal kits interests me the most. It is a highly technical solution where you have a variety of food products with different shelf lives moving through a rigorous e-commerce system. Balancing material selection, food safety, quality, temperatures and efficiency under a short timeline and wide consumer base is a wonderful achievement in packaging. It also creates many opportunities for innovation in sustainability and plastic packaging.
Q: What should the plastics industry do to expand its efforts in diversity and inclusion?
Jones: The plastics industry needs to do a better job of marketing the value of plastics to kids at a young age. There is so much misinformation on plastics that drives newer generations away from working in this industry. Also, I think also looking for talents across all geographies, races and genders can help bring new ideas to the industry. Diversity of people backgrounds creates better ideas and projects that advance innovation.