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The Myth of Biodegradability…
And Other Eco Fiction
In industry, some of us are getting frustrated by the lofty pronouncements by marketers promoting their “earth-friendly” products. And worse yet, consumers are increasingly confused, and even skeptical, about those claims. The claims range from “green,” to “eco-friendly,” to “biobased,” and so much more. “Greenwashing” presents obstacles for those making true efforts.
Often when product labels use terms like “biodegradable,” there’s an especially compelling argument for a good green purchase. Part of the consumer’s reasoning is that terms like biodegradable and compostable have a technical ring to them. It’s like, “Those people must have met a scientific standard when they use these words.” And many of us do not pause to think about what all the eco-terms mean. Do they have a real impact? After all, do our purchases of those green products improve the environment?
At a recent conference on sustainable products, a brand leader in cleaning products explained its target consumers as: 1) upscale buyers; 2) trendy; 3) true green consumers. The question for suppliers is, How do we represent “true green” in ways that are not misleading or lacking in impact, and resonate with buyers? For consumers who are not in the “upscale” category, we need to ask: Can we supply green value products that are competitively priced?
If we would only stop to think about biodegradability, we would remember that even a phone book covered over in a landfill lasts many decades without biodegrading. Nothing is going to actually happen for a long time in most of today’s landfills.
It doesn’t matter which definition of biodegradability you reference, whether the product or material has to break down in 90 days or 9 months or whatever in defined conditions of moisture, light and being, as defined by the EPA, “Capable of decomposing under natural conditions.” There are very few situations in which materials are put in piles out in the open air and mixed or turned periodically.
The bottom line is that eco-deliverables are sorely lacking. While it doesn’t hurt to be ahead of your time by offering biodegradable products, there are many other things companies can do to make a real difference right now. Some of the options include:
Designing better products up front rather than trying to remove waste and recycle extra materials and packaging on the back end. Many companies are actively working on designing for improved product-to-package ratios and increased bulk packaging, even removing some intermediate packaging elements.
Source reduction is potentially more impactful than being recyclable. If product designers and converters can cut back on actual waste, there is less need to recycle or compost. And of course, having products made with reduced waste, plus being recyclable covers multiple bases.
Analysis of the supply chain to reduce transportation and associated fuel usage, instead of doing business in traditional ways. Regional alliances are taking some of the bloom off cross-continent and overseas sourcing. For example: Is bamboo the answer in heartland USA converting when it has to be transported long distances? Or are resources nearby, such as those monitored by the Forest Stewardship Council a better approach?
“Being lean and assuring minimal waste streams is very critical to our business,” says a Northeast Wisconsin materials supplier. We have had many successful projects and programs because of our attention to the overall reduction of waste, along with our other efficiency efforts.”
Greening Your Business
Paper, film, and materials converters are in the trenches of manufacturing, not in the fashionable, promotional end where marketers put out their green imagery. However, converters can step up to work more closely with marketers and offer meaningful examples which can be taken further into the consumer arena. However, they need to find a path to assessing, implementing, and communicating their efforts. Converters can also take methodology from their past efforts at quality improvement and strategy development.
- Developing your vision for sustainable efforts that fit the specific converting business.
- Assessing a particular situation to choose steps, corrective actions and paths that fit the business.
- Determining factors for evaluation when planning for green initiatives.
- Working with suppliers, customers, and others to maximize input and options.
- Choosing definitions, resources, and authorities as a framework for your green programming.
By tailoring everything to their specific businesses, converters can deliver authentic results that make sense to their customers and communities.
According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), misleading claims can result in consequences including corrective advertising, mandatory disclosures in future ads or labeling—for starters. (www.ftc.gov/green) FTC Staff Attorney Janice Podoll Frankle, speaking at a Clean Green Conference said, “Substantiation must be competent with reliable evidence, including testing, analysis and research.” It’s a warning about the kind of eco-fiction that ultimately leads no place useful. Converters are beginning to break through with their roll-up-the-sleeves stories of actual eco-results. They are busy making green progress that also improves efficiencies. No fiction needed. (This Stansbury article was originally published in PFFC and has been updated.)
Options for Discontinued Siemens Masterdrive Systems
With the beginning of the planned phase-out of Siemens Masterdrive in October of 2010, replacement parts and units that have been refurbished became increasingly difficult to obtain. Plus, those parts and units that were available began to climb in both price and delivery times. For owners of this drive system, understandable anxiety set in.
What Does the Phase-Out Mean?
Essentially, the phase-out means that the drive system has been discontinued by the manufacturer. For a time, there were still replacement parts and reconditioned drives readily available, but as they were no longer being manufactured, these stores would eventually run out.
Options for Discontinued Drives
After 2020, Siemens will no longer provide support for Masterdrive. One seemingly straightforward option would be to change out the entire system, but this would likely mean upgrading the entire automation system. This option comes with considerable expense and probably requires a great deal of time.
However, because the drive system was so popular, there is a broad secondary market that will be self sustainable for many years beyond 2020. That means that there are plenty of opportunities to extend the useful life for existing drives at a small percentage of the expense of a new system.
Repair or Replace: Factors to Review
Before arriving at a decision on whether to extend the life of a Siemens Masterdrive system or complete a replacement and overhaul of your entire system, consider these key factors:
- Performance. The age of the drive will not affect its performance. The drive’s speed and torque will remain consistent with as-built levels.
- Service Availability. Many service providers will travel to areas with no local providers available or accept delivery of shipped drives for service.
- Spare Part Availability. Certain IGBTs pose a risk for spare parts, particularly those with very large frame sizes. Still, the risk is reduced by devices stocked by Siemens and local service providers.
- Reliability. This is arguably the most important factor to consider as it may not make sense to repair an inverter that is already failing at rates greater than expected.
Masterdrive Extension Programs
Quad Plus has serviced well over 2000 Masterdrives throughout the years. Because of this extensive experience, we have collected vast amounts of data regarding which components tend to fail first and which preemptive actions are most likely to maintain productivity. As a result, we are able to offer a proactive program that can help extend the life and preserve a high rate of reliability for these drives.
Some of these failure points include:
- Cooling Systems. Water coolant should be cleaned and flushed, hoses and clamps upgraded, and heatsinks cleaned. Fans also tend to wear out after about four years.
- DC Bus Capacitors. These should be changed out after a maximum of 15 years, or sooner, depending on the application and working environment.
- Power Supplies. Small contactors and electrolytic caps should be inspected or replaced as needed.
- Gate Drivers. Preemptive replacement of components including fiber optics (ivi, ipi, impi)
- IGBT. These should be assessed for proper functioning based on the application and the working environment.
- Internal Power Connections should be inspected.
Through our own experience or that of others, most service providers have also discovered that using OEM parts delivers the best outcomes. In the right environment, this kind of program can extend the working life of the drive for ten years or more.
Individual or Phased Replacement
Another strategy to consider is a phased or planned replacement of one drive at a time over the course of a few years. For example, many customers will have a displaced drive reconditioned and kept as a spare for future use. This method will allow a complete system to undergo an upgrade over several fiscal years. That
way, the customer can complete the overhaul during planned periods of downtime and from a planned budget.
The Right Choice for Your Operation
Ultimately, the decision comes down to the reliability of your current drives, your budget for upgrades, and the need for service or upgrades throughout your operation. If now is not the right time for replacement, Quad Plus’s life-extending program for your discontinued Siemens Masterdrive systems can cost approximately 70 percent of the total cost of a new system, including the cost of engineering and automation costs associated with replacement.
If you’d like additional information on our Masterdrive life-extension program or if you’d like assistance developing a migration plan from your Masterdrives, please contact Jim Woulf at (920) 515-4155 or via email at email@example.com.
1001 West Kennedy Avenue Kimberly, WI 54136
We are pleased to announce that All About Packaging, LLC has purchased all assets of All About Packaging, Inc. (AAP, Inc.) headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin as of 1/1/2022.
All About Packaging, Inc. was founded by Tom and April Schein in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1997. The Schein’s have served as the leaders of AAP, Inc, while manufacturing and serving the Fox Valley Community for 25 plus years. AAP, Inc specializes in thermoformed packaging, including clamshells, blisters, trays and custom packaging solutions. At AAP, Inc. no job is too small and the mission is “Concept to Completion.”
The new owners, Chad Abel and TJ Thibert have spent the last 30 years innovating and leading companies in the paper, plastic and metal manufacturing industries. Per Thibert, “Chad and I couldn’t be happier with the acquisition of All About Packaging, Inc. The Schein’s have built a solid company that has stood the test of time for 25 years. We have a phenomenal group of employees and an excellent management team that strives to innovate and continuously improve each and every day. The future is incredible bright at AAP, Inc. as we look to continually partner with our existing customer base while identifying new products and markets.”
We look forward to meeting all our valuable customers, suppliers and vendors soon, please feel free to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns.
Sincerely and Best Regards,
GBIG NEWS Bretting Company
GBIG NEWS C. G. Bretting Manufacturing Co., Inc. tour on January 20, 2022 at their Ashland, WI facility.
I recently had the opportunity to take a tour of C. G. Bretting Manufacturing Co., Inc. (Bretting) and have dinner with a few company representatives. I met with three members of the Sales Department – Randy DeMars, Troy O’Bey and Blake Bretting – at the 280,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Ashland, WI and had an interesting discussion regarding the Bretting company as well as manufacturing in general. Bretting is a well-positioned and diversified OEM in the design and manufacture of converting equipment (www.bretting.com). Bretting’s OEM business serves the Tissue, Towel, Napkin, Non-woven, Wax, Foil and Paper Bag (www.absolutmfg.com) markets; Supplying full converting lines from unwind stand to a variety of poly or paper packaging. Bretting also offers Contract Manufacturing Services (CMS) to a wide range of businesses including industries such as Oil & Gas, Mining, Logging & Wood Process and Food Processing Industries.
Bretting has served the converting and contract manufacturing industry since 1890. Bretting’s commitment to quality and dedication to service allows them to provide customers with the ability to operate some of the most reliable, durable, and innovative equipment in the industry.
The entire Bretting team strives to exceed customer expectations and to provide outstanding customer service. One of their latest developments is the addition of Digital Printing capabilities to their converting lines, providing continuous high-speed production on a variety of napkin, tissue and towel substrates. This technology allows for variable data content and is the ultimate performer for low case count, customized print runs (Digital Printer On C.G. Bretting Manufacturing Co. Inc.).
In addition to digital print Bretting offers a full line of LCi, Premium, and G-class (Gearless) Flexographic Printers which can be sold independently or as part of a complete converting line. The Green Bay Innovation Group will be covering a wide variety of Converters in the upcoming issues of the www.GBIGNEWS.com. Wisconsin has over 200 Converters and is called the Converters Corridor of the United States.
Women in Business & Manufacturing
A Round Table Overview for GBIG
This series of three features women in manufacturing and/or allied to industry.
Including in this, Part 1:
Hosted by Susan Stansbury, Industry Consultant
Barb LaMue, President & CEO, The New North
Cassie Diedrick, Business Development, Robinson Inc.
Mary VanVonderen, Marketing Manager, The CMM Group
Susan: What is your outlook for 2022?
Barb LaMue:We anticipate that 2022 will see increased sales growth and capital investment within the region, but unfortunately supply chain disruptions will continue. The number of job opportunities will also continue to increase, but the tight labor market will also remain.
Cassie Diedrick: We see more collaboration, automation, and custom tailoring to meet market needs. Customization, for example, does not need to be expensive when you consider the gains in efficiency and productivity that result.
Mary VanVonderen: We see markets are opening up in the industries we serve. Money is being spent on long-delayed projects. Companies are spending on new equipment and expanding production in many of our core markets. We also see an uptick in companies taking proactive steps for preventive maintenance and upgrading existing equipment.
Susan: What do you see regarding workforce issues?
Barb: Companies are investing more in technology and increasing job training to grow from within, along with increased workplace flexibility. Our institutions of higher learning are also increasing the methods of learning with more certificates and shorter-term focused curricula.
Susan: Not too long ago, the focus on fuller employment was the major workforce issue with companies. Now, with automation and lean manufacturing, the difficulties in finding workers with current low unemployment, may be overcome somewhat.
Mary: While companies are expanding their production, the concerns remain for finding qualified people to fill positions and finding new ways to retain them. We believe in listening, really listening to teams—they have good ideas. I’d advise; Don’t be afraid to try new ideas brought forth from your team. Build relationships within your team.
Cassie: Our approximately 500 employees are more productive than ever by cross training in our segments including robotics, smart controls, and custom tailoring solutions for customers. Our expertise in double stacking items like wipes; product handling that has become automated; and modular metal fabrications—are some of our diverse offerings.
Susan: Where are the growth areas?
Barb: We expect to see increases in the number of diverse business opportunities in our region, as this becomes more of a focus within organizations and corporations. We expect continued growth in transportation and logistics as consumer buying habits trend to on-line activity.
Mary: We are offering regenerative thermal pollution control systems and industrial ovens and dryers where use of less energy is a major benefit to our customers. Aftermarket services that help customers upgrade; improve their production equipment; and extend the life of existing equipment are another growth area.
Susan: Markets ranging from retail packaging and printing support to business-to-business supplies continue to grow among Northeast Wisconsin manufacturers. With the last two years’ growth in hygiene disposables like antibacterial wet wipes and masks, line extensions will occur as converters branch out into other areas using similar technologies.
Look for Part 2 next, featuring three women with the spotlight on the converting industry.
Green Bay In Person Event Feb 23rd 2022
The Green Bay Innovation Group and the Greater Green Bay Chamber will be hosting an IN-PERSON event on Wednesday, February 23, from 2-4 p.m. at the Urban Hub 340 N. Broadway Ste. 200 downtown Green Bay.
A powerful new wave of transformational innovation is about to sweep across the pulp, paper, packaging, plastics, and printing (5P) Industry. Given Wisconsin’s uniquely high concentration of 5P companies, we should expect disproportionately high positive impact from this disruptive wave of innovation. A dramatic shift away from conventional plastics in paper coatings and eventually in inks by the next generation of “bioplastics” will transform the paper converting, printing, and packaging industries, propelling product competitiveness into the next century and beyond.
PHAXTEC, a start-up in biopolymers with proprietary technology, is leading the way. PHAXTEC plans to offer PHA materials and coatings as a solution to the growing global plastics waste crisis. Trademarked PHAX®, these products would be competitive to plastics, compostable, and recyclable, and would biodegrade when left in landfills or leak to the environment. We will introduce Anindya Mukherjee, Founder and CEO of PHAXTEC, Inc. (www.phaxtec.com). PHAXTEC is looking for collaborations with strategic partners interested in these new generation of coatings! After the presentation, we will follow up with networking for all attendees!
Please confirm your reservations to: Marty Ochs – firstname.lastname@example.org or text to 608-698-3333 or email Kelly Armstrong Greater Green Bay Chamber at KArmstrong@greatergbc.org. You can also register online by going to: www.greenbayinnovationgroup.com – EVENTS and sign up.
We look forward to your participation.
Marty Ochs, Executive Director, Green Bay Innovation Group
Kelly Armstrong, Vice President Economic Development, Greater Green Bay Chamber
Get links to the latest news, events, stories, and interviews from our 5P news sponsors. Our goal is to remind the decision makers in Wisconsin of the importance of our industry both historically, and more importantly, into the future.
Paper Council leader optimistic about federal grant proposal
The head of the Wisconsin Paper Council says he’s “very optimistic” about securing an up to $100 million federal grant after Gov. Tony Evers announced the state would provide matching funds for the effort.
Wisconsin will be pitching in up to $8.2 million in matching funds to support the federal grant application spearheaded by the Paper Council, Evers said yesterday in a release.
“This is one piece of the puzzle for our application,” Wisconsin Paper Council President Scott Suder told WisBusiness.com.
The proposal from state paper and forestry industry stakeholders was among 60 around the country to get a $500,000 planning grant last year through the federal Build Back Better Challenge Grant program. The release shows applicants were asked to show they can provide at least $20 million in matching funds to qualify for the next round of $100 million grants.
“We asked the governor to assist us in that effort,” Suder (pictured here) said yesterday in an interview. “We’re very pleased that he has accepted that challenge and is going to provide some measure of matching funds should we receive that grant.”
Evers and WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo expressing support for the proposal. They noted the coalition has already raised more than $11.8 million from other sources, including businesses, individuals, nonprofits, and tribal and local governments.
“We want to assure you that the State of Wisconsin remains resolutely committed to ensuring the success of this project as well,” they wrote in the letter.
The Wisconsin coalition’s initial proposal, titled “A Wisconsin Forest Products Cluster: A Catalyst for Sustainable, Enduring Transformation,” highlighted the 35-county region of northern Wisconsin. It referenced proposed projects including a new research and development facility for the industry, training programs and efforts to create new markets for forestry products.
By implementing these and other projects in the proposal, the coalition estimates 2,500 new jobs and $2 billion in new economic output will be created over the next decade. The release from the guv’s office shows the state’s paper and forestry industry employs nearly 63,000 workers and makes up nearly $18 billion of Wisconsin’s manufacturing output.
Suder emphasized the bipartisan support for the application, calling the state pledge “part of a much larger effort from our diverse coalition.” He noted Republicans and Democrats are backing the application, and said a related legislative resolution is expected from both the Assembly and Senate “very soon.”
“This is really all hands on deck, and it is a really great example of bipartisan cooperation toward a goal of making certain that we’re ready for the future, to focus on innovation, and future markets, and research and development, diversification and diversity for Wisconsin’s forest products industries,” he said.
The application for the $100 million grant is due March 15, Suder said. He added coalition members will “work right up to the application deadline to make sure that we have every resource available to qualify for this.”
The Paper Council-led coalition also includes Mid-State Technical College, the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, the Sustainable Resource Institute, UW-Stevens Point’s Institute for Sustainable Technology, Menominee Nation Tribal Enterprises, and the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry.
See the coalition’s proposal overview: https://eda.gov/files/arpa/build-back-better/finalists/concept-proposal-narrative/Wisconsin%20Paper%20Council.pdf
–By Alex Moe