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GPEC® 2014 Environmental Award Winners

SPE Names Recipients of GPEC® 2014 Environmental Awards

Awards recognizing environmental leadership and excellence will be presented at the GPEC 2014 conference on March 14, 2014

The Plastics Environmental Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC) 2014 Environmental Stewardship Awards. Presentations will take place on March 14, 2013 at The Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, Orlando, FLA, USA

The awards reflect the Orlando inspired theme “It’s a Green World After All!". SPE’s Plastics Environmental Division’s awards are given to those corporations or institutions that clearly demonstrate their commitment to our environment and leadership in sustainability and recycling.

The recipients of the 2014 GPEC Awards: 

  • Wellman Engineering Resins (Troy, Michigan)
  • The Dow Chemical Company (Houston, Texas)
  • DYNISCO (Franklin, Massachusetts)
  • Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, Michigan) / The Coca-Cola Company (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Plastics Forming Enterprises, LLC “PFE” (Amherst, New Hampshire)
  • LightManufacturing LLC (Pismo Beach, California)
  • Arkema (Lyon, France)
  • Heng Hiap Industries Sdn Bhd (Johor Bahru, Malaysia)
  • MBA Polymers, Inc. (Richmond, California)

Wellman Engineering Resins (Troy, Michigan) Contact: Jeff McQueen,

Wellman is the World’s largest recycler of carpeting, and nylon producer from 100% Post Consumer Resins (PCR), brand named “EcoLonTM.” Wellman is also the only 100% vertically integrated PCR nylon supplier, owning everything from its ten carpet collection sites (New Jersey to Florida) through its pellet extrusion and packaging operations. With 100% control of everything from collection through extrusion and its patented chemical and mechanical raw fiber separation processes, Wellman has taken carpet recycling and PCR nylon production to a new quality and consistency level, rivaling oil-based virgin nylon. EcoLonTM quality and consistency differentiates Wellman above and beyond other carpet recyclers in the industry and allows them to compete toe-to-toe with the virgin nylon suppliers.

Today, Wellman has over 600 employees and diverts over 100 Million pounds of used carpeting before it gets to landfills and is expected to double that number by 2015. To date, the use of Wellman’s EcolonTM has meant oil demand for production of nylon auto parts has been reduced by over 167,000,000 gallons!
Wellman’s bottle recycling operation is one of the largest in NAFTA and Wellman is also the largest producer of lanolin for the cosmetics industry.

The award in the category of “Plastic Recycling Technologies and Applications” recognizes Wellman’s leadership in carpet/nylon and bottle/PET recycling.

Wellman incoming materials to resin and final molded applications:

The Dow Chemical Company (Houston, Texas) Contact: Nestor De Mattos,

The Polyethylene Stand-Up Pouch was created after Dow was approached to develop a solution with a flexible food packaging converter and a major frozen foods brand owner in Latin America. Using its unique materials science capabilities, Dow’s team of experts in collaboration with the converter and the brand owner rapidly developed a packaging technology that would have high tear strength, puncture resistance, cold-temperature tolerance, barrier properties and excellent optics. Structured from only polyethylene resins, the flexible pouch enables recyclability in communities with existing PE recycle streams and transforms the way consumer goods are packaged – anything from dry food items to personal care products. This revolutionary stand-up pouch was developed, qualified and commercialized in approximately six months.

The Dow Chemical Company, receives the award in the category of “Design for Recyclability” with their innovative stand-up pouch design.

Dow’s Stand-Up Pouch design:

DYNISCO (Franklin, Massachusetts) Contact: Mike Davis,

In October 2012, Dynisco introduced the VertexTM mercury-free pressure sensor, which employs a radically different sensing technology. Not only is the sensor significantly safer and friendlier to the environment, it is also a drop-in replacement for existing sensors, with performance that is comparable or better, so barriers to market acceptance are extremely low. VertexTM is a safer product to own and use, and it eliminates hazardous waste and related costs for both users and the manufacturer.

Dynisco has long been aware of the environmental hazards posed by mercury, a key component in most high temperature pressure sensing devices. While mercury used in its devices is strictly monitored and controlled, the best sustainable alternative is to remove mercury altogether. Dynisco is also a staunch supporter of IMERC, the Interstate Mercury Education and Reduction Clearinghouse. Established by environmental officials in eight states in the northeastern U.S., IMERC advocates for laws and programs aimed at getting mercury out of consumer products, the waste stream, and the environment.

For their environmentally conscientious mercury-free sensor, Dynisco is being recognized in “Design for Sustainability” award category.

Dynisco’s mercury-free sensors

Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, Michigan) / The Coca-Cola Company (Atlanta, Georgia) Contact: Debbi Mielewski, Contact: Michael Knutzen,

The Coca-Cola Company and Ford Motor Company are fueling more sustainable design through the development of a first-ever interior fabric made from the same renewable material used to produce Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle TechnologyTM packaging. The two companies collaborated to produce a Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid vehicle with Coca-Cola PlantBottle Technology interior fabric surfaces covering seat cushions, seat backs, head restraints, door panel inserts and headliners. Fabric made from PlantBottle Technology consists of up to 30 percent plant-based materials, showing the broad potential of two global consumer icons to leverage renewable materials to help replace petroleum and other fossil fuels used for traditional polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This research vehicle marks the first time PlantBottle Technology was applied beyond packaging, and affirms a joint commitment by two global consumer icons to develop innovative new products produced from renewable materials

This marks the first time Ford and Coke collaborated in many aspects from the polymer technology required to produce this fabrics to all the design elements of the exterior and interior of the vehicle.
For the successful partnership of Coke and Ford in developing automotive interior fabrics from renewable materials they will receive the “Plastics from Renewable Sources” award.

Ford Fusion interior seating made with Coca-Cola PlantBottle plant-based resin

Plastics Forming Enterprises, LLC “PFE” (Amherst, New Hampshire)  Contact: Lou Tacito,

PFE is a distinguished leading independent laboratory providing consulting for recyclability of plastics, rigid packaging and bioplastics for brand owners, converters, recyclers and many more. PFE has been involved in all aspects of the development and growth of the Plastics Recycling Industry.
As technology and material applications have evolved, PFE has consistently adjusted its core skills and services to support the ongoing research and engineering through commercial development of recycling technologies. PFE uses many proficient skills including process analysis and supporting testing services. PFE’s ability to provide onsite evaluations and upgrades have been an economic gain and educational for their clients.

PFE continues with the development for the next generation plastics recycling technology pilot facilities for Sorting, Washing and Materials from new sources of plastics.

Designed and Built First PCR Polyester Sheet Company
Designed and built First Commercial B2B Multilayer Food Grade Plant Designed and Built Original Mohawk Carpet Recycling Facility Upgraded Many Commercial Recycle Plants
Issued Quality Assurance Process Patents
Designed and Built Information Technology Systems

For PFE’s varying technologies for recycling waste plastics for innovative research they are the recipient of this year’s “Enabling Technologies Award”.

LightManufacturing LLC (Pismo Beach, California) Contact: Karl Von Kries,

LightManufacturing’s solar molding systems make plastic parts without fossil fuels or externally supplied electricity. Concentrated solar heat from sun-tracking mirrors replaces natural gas or other fuels. The firm’s Solar Rotational Molding (SRM®) systems are inexpensive to purchase and cost and less to operate than traditional rotomolding systems. SRM does not require a building or any support structures – systems are installed on unimproved land, and operate entirely off–grid. No gas or electrical connection is needed, and there are no greenhouse gas emissions or other pollutants. The US Patent Office recently granted LightManufacturing patents in Solar Rotational Molding and Solar Vacuum Forming and the firm has filed patents internationally in 46 countries. LightManufacturing’s SRM systems allow for quick deployment of manufacturing capability, both to serve existing markets and to bring plastic manufacturing capability to underserved and emerging markets. Seasonal installation is possible, as well as project specific molding to support construction or disaster relief. The firm calculates that SRM can be profitably deployed on over 49% of the Earth’s land area. SRM advantages include: zero energy costs, zero pollution, no need for factory building or other infrastructure, fast system setup time, no need for grid-supplied energy, ability to locate ‘micro-factories’ close to dispersed markets, and more.

LightManufacturing’s unique solar plastic rotational molding system, they are being recognized in the “ Emerging Technologies in Processing and Applications” award category.

LightManufacturing’s solar plastic rotational molding in action:

Arkema (Lyon, France) Contact:ConnieLo,

A global chemical company and France’s leading chemicals producer, Arkema is building the future of the chemical industry every day. Deploying a responsible, innovation-based approach, we produce state-of-the-art specialty chemicals that provide customers with practical solutions to such challenges as climate change, access to drinking water, the future of energy, fossil fuel preservation through the development of biosourced polymers and the need for lighter materials. Arkema is committed to a continuous improvement process to cut emissions from our various activities, reduce consumption of resources, and increase the use of renewable resources.

For their combined efforts in producing chemicals that support environmental sustainability, Arkema is being awarded the “Chairman’s Award”

Heng Hiap Industries Sdn Bhd (Johor Bahru, Malaysia) Contact: Ken Kian Hoe Seah,

Heng Hiap Industries Sdn Bhd (HHI), formed in 2002, is at the forefront of developing innovative recycling technologies. Conceived and developed locally, the company has rolled out a total of eight breakthrough technologies to date with eighteen patents filed.
One of their groundbreaking mechanical recycling technologies includes transforming plastic scrap into Smart Plastics, which can be used in highly specialized niche applications. Some unique features of Smart Plastics include electric conductive, bio plastics, fast cycle, anti-bacteria, just to name a few. Through Thermal Recycling, the company converts plastics scrap into a New Coal, a substitute with three times calorific value higher than conventional coal. Lastly, the company also converts plastics scrap to New Oil, a industrial equivalent bio diesel with cetane number of higher than 55.

With the development of their leading edge Smart Plastics, Heng Hiap Industries is being given the “Chairman’s Award”

Heng Hiap’s Smart Plastic:

Daniel Eberhardt Environmental Stewardship Award:

Dan Eberhardt was one of the pioneers in Plastics Recycling and one of the pioneering leaders of this Division of the SPE. His efforts, both physical and financial, have contributed to the growth of this organization. This special GPEC award is a tribute to Dan’s Services to the environment and the Division and recognizes a corporation involved with plastics, who has made outstanding contribution towards the improvement of the environment, beyond a specific item. They have shown special leadership in the various aspects of sustainability not only through technical contributions, but also, community involvement, education and promotion etc. and made a total commitment to environmental enhancement.

MBA Polymers, Inc. (Richmond, California) Contact: Dr. Michael Biddle,

Mike Biddle founded MBA Polymers 21 years ago, literally from his California garage. The company has grown to what is now the world’s leading multinational company recovering plastics from complex waste streams, such as computers, electronics, appliances, automobiles and household waste. MBA has over 300 million pounds/year of processing capacity in the UK, Austria and China to turn waste into high performance plastics. MBA works with some of the largest manufacturers in the world to close-the-loop by replacing virgin plastics with MBA plastics in their new products.

Based on MBA’s relentless and un-matched commitment to recycling and environmental solutions for plastics they are awarded the prestigious “Daniel Eberhardt Environmental Stewardship Award”.

MBA Polymers facilities in Austria and the UK and MBA processing equipment and Mike Biddle with MBA resin and products: 

All of the original Award Winner photos can be downloaded  at the following link:


GPEC 2013 Environmental Awards

GPEC 2013 Awards Winners

The GPEC 2013 Awards:

I am thrilled by the continuing popularity of the GPEC Environmental Awards and this year was no exception. Nominations came from domestic and international organizations. The nominees,  are all true winners, in their contributions to the environmental betterment. However, being a competition, we had to select the best of the best. The judges did a fantastic job, in picking the best of the best.

 GPEC 2013 Environmental Award Winners, fell into seven categories.

 The winner, for the category of PLASTICS RECYCLING TECHNOLOGIES and APPLICATIONS was HILEX POLY CO. LLC of South Carolina for pioneering closed-loop Bag-2-Bag recycling of plastic Bags.

 For PLASTICS RECYCLING TECHNOLOGIES and APPLICATIONS the award was given MCS Industries, Inc of Easton, PA for leading efforts in recycling of waste Polystyrene foam.

 In the category of “Plastics from Renewables”, Interfacial Solutions of River Falls, WI was chosen for their intriguing technology for rheological modification of recycled PLA, to be as “good” as virgin, for extrusion purposes.

The Design for Sustainability Award went to Avery Dennison for their successful development of pressure sensitive labels for PET  bottles for more efficient recycling.

 The Chairman’s Award was given to Infiltrator Systems, Inc of Connecticut for their large scale recycling of waste plastics for innovative soil and water purification applications.

 There were 2 Award winners for the prestigious Daniel Eberhardt Award for exceptional contributions to environmental Sustainability:

  1. Mondelez for their significant efforts in reducing plastic wastes in packaging and contributions to Sustainability
  2. General Motors  for their major recycling efforts and leadership in  Sustainability activities

The collective contributions of these institutions toward the betterment of the environment, is immense!

I want to specially, express my profound gratitude to the judges, who performed admirably, in this challenging judging process to select the winners. The processing , advertisements, and communications about these these awards, before and after the event, would not have been possible without the exceptional services, by our dear vice president, Larry Koester.

The free publicity the winners will be receiving in our organizational E-mails, and the various press releases and publications, would each be worth thousands of dollars to each winner!!

For a full review of each winner read this about each of the winners or for pictures from the awards ceremony see our GPEC 2013 Album.

Looking forward for a spectacular award contest next year!

Start your engines.


Wishing you all the best!

Dr. P. M. Subramanian,
Chair, SPE-GPEC Awards

March 4, 2013: SPE Names Recipients of GPEC®2013 Environmental Awards

 Awards recognizing environmental leadership and excellence will be presented at the GPEC 2013 conference on March 21, 2013,

 Newtown, CT, U.S.A. – The Plastics Environmental Division of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC® 2013) Environmental Stewardship Awards. Presentations will take place on March 21, 2013 at The Sheraton New Orleans in downtown New Orleans, LA, USA.

 The awards embrace this year’s theme “The Latest Need to Know: From Recycling to Sustainability of Plastics”. SPE’s Plastics Environmental Division’s environmental awards are given to those corporations or institutions that clearly demonstrate their commitment to and leadership in sustainability and recycling.

 The following are the recipients of the 2013 GPEC Awards.

 Hilex Poly Co. LLC (Hartsville, SC, USA)

 Hilex Poly Co. LLC, the largest manufacturer of plastic carryout bags in North America, has invested significantly in the optimal sustainable solution for plastic bags and films by creating and operating the largest closed loop recycling plant in its industry. Utilizing reverse logistics, the company recovers HDPE, LDPE, and LLDPE plastics returned by consumers, and cleans and recycles the product back into raw material used for manufacturing new bags. The program is named Bag-2-Bag. Compared to conventional plastic bags, the Bag-2-Bag product requires less energy and lowers carbon emissions and diverts over 20 million of pounds from landfills each year.  The award in the category of “Plastic Recycling Technologies and Applications” recognizes Hilex Poly’s leadership in consumer plastic bag recycling. 

MCS Industries, Inc (Easton, PA, USA)

MCS converts often difficult to recycle, post-consumer scrap materials such as expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam packaging and large printer cartridges into designer picture frames. MCS has developed an innovative process to make use of materials that would be otherwise end up in landfill.  MCS Industries, Inc, receives the award in the category of “Plastic Recycling Technologies and Applications” in converting challenging recyclate streams into consumer products.

Interfacial Solutions (River Falls, WI, USA)

Interfacial Solutions’ hyper-branching technology has been shown to effectively counteract any foreseeable issues with molecular weight loss due to the hydrolytic degradation of RPLA during melt processing--thereby permitting, for the first time, the possibility of repeated melt processing without pre-drying.  Since Interfacial Solutions has demonstrated the efficacy of this technology for a wide variety of pre- and post-industrial RPLA waste streams (8 different examples cited), this technology is positioned as more-or-less universally applicable for RPLA recovery regardless of origin.  Interfacial Solutions is being recognized in this demanding area in the award category “Plastics from Renewables”for the development of reactive hyper-branching technology to enhance recycling of PLA.

 Avery Dennison (Pasadena, CA, USA)

Avery Dennison’s Bottle-to-Bottle Portfolio for PET Recyclability was designed as a solution to address the impact of labels on PET bottle recyclability. These newly developed pressure sensitive adhesive label products can help brands adhere to design for recycling guidelines so that their PET bottles can be easily collected and do not contribute to contamination and yield loss of the RPET supply. These new labels have been endorsed by major organizations such as APR and NAPCOR.  For Avery Dennison’s successful development of pressure sensitive labels for PET bottles for more efficient recycling they will receive the “Design for Sustainability”award.

 Infiltrator Systems Inc., (Old Saybrook, CT, USA)

Infiltrator Systems is a company where technology complements nature's own processes for recycling wastewater. Infiltrator products and services improve the performance of onsite systems by delivering greater infiltrative capacity, ensuring higher quality installations and making more efficient use of space.  Every day Infiltrator processes post-consumer and post-industrial plastics and other commodities to manufacture their product, which puts over 150 million pounds of recycled plastics and polymers into better, environmentally-friendly uses every year.  For Infiltrator’s large scale recycling of waste plastics for innovative soil and water purification applications they are the recipient of this year’s “Chairman’s Award”.

 Daniel Eberhardt Environmental Stewardship Award:

Dan Eberhardt was one of the pioneers in plastics recycling and one of the pioneering leaders of this SPE Division. His efforts contributed to the growth of the organization. This special GPEC award is a tribute to Dan’s services to the environment and the Division, and recognizes a corporation involved with plastics that has made outstanding contributions to the improvement of the environment, beyond a specific item. Recipients must have shown special leadership in various aspects of sustainability, not only through technical contributions, but also, community involvement, education and promotion etc. and made a total commitment to environmental enhancement. This year, there are two recipients of the Daniel Eberhardt:

 Mondelez International, Inc. (Deerfield, IL, USA)

Mondelez International, Inc. is the world’s largest chocolate, biscuit, candy and powdered beverage company and the second largest in coffee and gum. Launched on Oct. 1, 2012, with approximate annual revenue of $36 billion and employing around 100,000 people around the world, Mondelez International comprises the global snacking and food brands of the former Kraft Foods Inc.  Since 2010, measured against total production, Mondelez has cut packaging by 20,500 metric tons (about 45 million pounds), iIncreased sustainable sourcing of agricultural commodities by 36%, eliminated about 20 million kilometers of travel miles, cut energy by 3%, CO2 emissions by 6%, water use by 3% and manufacturing waste by 18%.  For their leadership efforts in bioplastic sourcing, sustainable packaging & farming and reduction in resources used in manufacturing, Mondelez is awarded the “Daniel Eberhardt Environmental Stewardship Award”.

 General Motors (Detroit, MI, USA)

General Motors is committed to continuously reducing the environmental impact of its vehicles and facilities.

Currently, the company recycles 90 percent of its global manufacturing waste and has 103 landfill-free facilities with a goal to increase that number to 125 sites by 2020. This effort has also helped generate an estimated $1 billion in reuse and recycling revenue from its byproducts, and eliminate 10 million metric tons of carbon emissions in 2011.  GM utilizes a number of strategies, including innovative data collection and ongoing monitoring systems, employee and external engagement initiatives, and creative recycling and reuse projects as part of the landfill-free program. Among unusual examples of recycling are donating scrap polypropylene sound absorption vehicle material to insulate coats for the homeless and converting scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers into nesting boxes.  Based on GM’s un-matched commitment to the reduction of landfill and the creative solutions for plastic and part re-use, they are awarded the “Daniel Eberhardt Environmental Stewardship Award”.




Student Poster Winners at GPEC 2013

Join us for “The Latest Need to Know: From Recycling to Sustainability of Plastics" with focus on the unique blend of recycling, reclamation and bioplastics at GPEC® 2013 on March 20-22, 2013 at The Sheraton New Orleans in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.  This is chance to learn about new technologies and innovations for plastics sustainability and recycling. Deadline for hotel Advance Registration is February 25, 2013.  For hotel reservations call (504) 525-2500 and request “SPE GPEC” room rate of $189 plus taxes.  

Student Poster Session (Thursday, March 21, 2013)

Richard C. Bopp, GPEC® 2013 Poster Session Chair

Posters will be judged by jury. Cash awards offered for posters of exceptional quality.

  • Ya-Haddy Salla and Travis Walker, "DEVELOPMENT OF BIODEGRADABLE HYBRID FILAMENTS FOR 3D PRINTING,” Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Department, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.
  • Waneta Kratz, Robert Michitsch and Aga Razvi, “RECYCLING PLA PLASTICWARE ON A UNIVERSITY CAMPUS,”  University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
  • Alexander Jones1, Dr. Suraj Sharma1, Eliza Ayton1, Mark Ashton Zeller2 and Ryan Hunt1, “BIOPLASTICS AND THERMOPLASTIC BLENDS MADE FROM SPIRULINA AND CHLORELLA MICROALGAE SPECIES,” 1Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 2Algix, LLC, Athens, GA.
  • Cameron Way1,2, Dr. Katherine Dean2, Dr. Enzo Plombo1, Dr. Dong Yung Wu2, “EFFECT OF

SURFACE MODIFICATIONS ON BIODEGRADABILITYOF POLYLACTIC ACID COMPOSITIES,”1Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn Victoria, Australia, 2CSIRO, Clayton, Victoria Australia.

  • Danielle Winiecki and Nathan Foltz, “CROSSLINKING RECYCLED POLYETHYLENE FOR LOW END MEDICAL APPLICATIONS,” Penn State Behrend, Erie, PA.


Ya-Haddy Salla and Travis Walker

Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Department, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rochester, NY 14623

Abstract: 3D printing is a mechanized method of making 3D objects on a machine from a Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and model on a computer screen. Conventional 3D printing filaments are usually petrochemical-based polymers; ABS is the most common type of filament material. The purpose of this research is to develop new biodegradable hybrid polymer filaments to replace the existing petroleum-based filaments for 3D printing.

The hybrids of biodegradable filaments were made by mixing PLA (polylactic acid) with LDPE (low density polyethylene) using a single screw extruder. Two different ratios of the hybrids were 30 wt% PLA and 60 wt% PLA with LDPE balanced, respectively. No compatibilizer was used in making the hybrid filaments. The extruded hybrid filaments were then tested as per ASTM standards: Tensile testing (ASTM D638), Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC, ASTM D3418), Melt flow Index (MFI, D1238) and Thermo-gravimetric Analysis (TGA, E1131). The testing results of the biodegradable hybrid filaments were compared to the filaments of ABS and 100wt% PLA for applications in 3D printing.

The results of the MFI test showed that the MFI of the PLA-LDPE hybrids increased from 5.06 g/10 min. to 7.14 g/10 min. as the weight % of the PLA increases from 30% to 60%, respectively. The data of the tensile testing showed that the tensile strength of ABS filaments were higher than those of the 30% PLA and 60% hybrid-filaments, but the % elongation of the PLA-LDPE hybrids was significantly higher than the ABS filaments. We will report the mechanical and thermal properties of the new biodegradable filaments to replace the petroleum based ABS filaments for 3D printing in the future.

Acknowledgements: The research study is mentored by Dr. Spencer Kim. The work is sponsored by the NSF Grant (DUE-1044794) and the NSF I-Corps Grant (1261136). .


Waneta Kratz, Robert Michitsch and Aga Razvi

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI

Abstract: Municipal solid waste (MSW) management is a costly necessity. Petroleum-based plastics are commonplace in MSW of modern, throwaway societies. Petroleum-based plastics do not breakdown from natural processes in landfills and take up large amounts of valuable space. Compostable plastics offer a sustainable solution to petroleum-based plastics. Polylactic acid (PLA) is a plastic made from 100% renewable resources, is compostable at industrial composting conditions (high heat, high moisture) and also easily breaks down in a recycling process. Published research describing responsible waste management of PLA waste is scarce. This research compares two end-of-life options of PLA: industrial composting and chemical recycling. To test industrial compostability, PLA products were composted in a controlled environment in two separate experiments. The preliminary study shows that PLA composted at 50°C successfully degraded an average of 97% (weight loss) after 120 days, while PLA composted at 40°C did not successfully degrade after 120 days. Compost containing degraded PLA was then applied to plants and physical and nutrient analyses were performed. A more thorough composting experiment was then performed using controlled conditions at 55°C and 60% moisture comparing the degradation effects on 5, 10, 20 and 30 % (by weight) additions of PLA cups vs. paper cups. All PLA treatments degraded over 99% after 12 weeks. Paper treatments did not show consistent breakdown with average weight loss of -19.4, 25.38 and 67.89% for the 5, 10 and 20% treatments respectively. A subsequent germination trial evaluated the effects of this compost on plant growth. Composting of PLA will be compared to chemical recycling of PLA. Industrial rinsing methods for chemical recycling of post-consumer PLA will be assessed. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) currently implements PLA plastic ware at dining facilities on campus. Collection for chemical recycling has been implemented, titled the FRESH project, and is being evaluated by the WI Institute for Sustainable Technology. Post-consumer waste from this project is being used to test for industrial rinsing method effectiveness on the lactic acid product resulting from PLA chemical recycling. 


Alexander Jones1, Dr. Suraj Sharma1, Eliza Ayton1, Mark Ashton Zeller2 and Ryan Hunt1

 1Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Interiors, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

2Algix, LLC, Athens, GA

Abstract: With the use of conventional plastics today, there comes a multitude of drawbacks, such as the large amount of energy that is required to produce the plastic and the waste that is a result of plastic production and use.  In order to reduce the negative effects of plastics use, it is necessary to examine other sustainable sources of feedstock for plastic production.  One possible source of a feedstock for plastic production is algal biomass:  they do not require arable land in order to be grown and can also be used to remediate contaminated water.  With use of algal biomass, it is possible to produce different types of products, such as sheets and films while at the same time limiting the amount of energy spent and environmental damage incurred.

The research conducted in this poster is the examination of the microalgae species Spirulina platensis and Chlorella vulgaris, and the mechanical and viscoelastic properties of the bioplastics that have been produced from them through the use of compounding and extrusion.  When molded, it was found that the extension and modulus for both Spirulina and Chlorella-based bioplastics decreased when only glycerin is used to plasticize the material.  As for the thermoplastic blends utilized in this research, their static mechanical properties were then compared with models known in the art.  In terms of the plasticizer used, when higher amounts of glycerin are used, the initial modulus decreases, with an increase in the Tan δ initially, as well as more elastic properties at lower temperatures.  This research further Helped to show how these particular biolplastics will change based on the type of microalgal species used, as well as the amount of glycerin utilized as a plasticizer.


 Cameron Way1 2, Dr Katherine Dean2, Dr Enzo Palombo1, Dr Dong Yang Wu2

1 Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia

2 CSIRO, Normanby Rd, Clayton, Victoria, Australia, CSIRO Gate 5 Normanby Rd, Clayton, Victoria, Australia, +61 3 9545 2651,Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, +61 3 9214 8571 

Abstract: Bio-based and biodegradable composites are a renewable and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional polymers and their composites. However, many lignocellulose-based biocomposites suffer from a poor polymer-fibre interface and require compatibilisers, chemical treatments, or surface treatments to improve the mechanical and thermal properties of the composite. These are occasionally performed using non-environmentally friendly processes which can drastically affect the after-life biodegradability of the biocomposites.

Biocomposites incorporating polylactic acid and maple hardwood fibres were compounded at various fibre loadings, with and without sequential surface treatments on the maple fibres. All composites were compared in terms of mechanical, thermal, and biodegradation performance with the aim of developing composites with improved mechanical and thermal properties, but also the use of environmentally sound processes to produce or maintain a 100% ‘green’ biocomposite. 


Danielle Winiecki and Nathan Foltz

Penn State Behrend, Erie, PA

Abstract: This experiment determined the most effective technique in crosslinking HDPE (TyvekTM) in order to replace polypropylene (PP) medical containers.  The Tyvek was crosslinked using silane methods at levels of 2, 5, and 10% and irradiation at levels of 21.6, 42.12 and 105.3 kGy.  After crosslinking, these materials, along with a medical grade PP and a general grade of PE were tested using melt index, stress relaxation, tensile, impact, heat deflection temperature (HDT) and autoclave sterilization.


GPEC 2011: Student Posters Awards

The student posters awards are as follows:

Graduate Student Category:

1st Place:  Robert Aldi, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY   (Student Photo Winner #1)    Note:  Robert was also the 1st place undergraduate winner at the last GPEC.


2nd Place:  Renuka Dhandapani, University of Georgia, Athens, GA   (Not Pictured)


3rd Place:  Peng Zhan, Washington State University, Pullman, WA  (Student Photo Winner #3 )


Undergraduate Student Category:

Co-1st Place Winners

  • Brijal Patel, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA (Not pictured)
  • Fredrik Chien, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY (Student Photo Winner #2 )


Other Poster Finalists were:

Mauricio Cano-Blanco, Maria Fernada-Rabell Contreras,  Hidemi Osada-Velásquez and Jorge Ulises González Filio, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana—Azcapotzalco, Mexico

Maria Fernada-Rabell Contreras, Mauricio Cano-Blanco, Miriam Hidemi Osada-Velásquez and Jorge Ulises González Filio, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana—Azcapotzalco, Mexico

Alejandra Constante, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Aspen D’Costa, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Keke Chen, Iowa State University, Ames, IA


Environmental Stewardship Award Winners 2011

NEWTOWN, CT, U.S.A., September 26, 2011: The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) was pleased to announce the recipients of the Plastics Environmental Division’s Environmental Stewardship Awards.  Presentations took place on October 18 during SPE’s Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC® 2011) in Atlanta.  

Reflecting the conference theme “Plastics Recycling and Sustainability on my Mind,” the awards recognized companies and institutions that have demonstrated environmental leadership and excellence through significant achievements in a variety of categories.  

The recipients of the 2011 GPEC Awards are listed below. More details are available in the document accompanying this news release. 

  • Lehigh Technologies (Tucker, GA): Chairman’s Award for a process for large-volume production of micronized powders from discarded tires that would otherwise be landfilled. The resulting powders can be used at high concentrations in plastics and new-tire manufacture. 
  • Sika Sarnafil (Canton, MA): “Plastic Recycling Technologies and Applications” Award for recycling old vinyl single-ply roofing back into useful roofing membrane.
  • BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company)  (Franklin Lakes, NJ): “Enabling Technologies in Processes and Procedures” Award for a recycling program that recovers plastics from medical devices and puts them to use in non-medical applications.  
  • Futuris Automotive Interiors (Troy, MI): “Emerging Technologies in Materials, Processing, and Applications” Award for developing a moldable, tufted PET carpet that is made with significant post-consumer PET content.  
  • Axion International (New Providence, NJ): “Significant Innovations in Environmental and Recycling Areas Using Conventional Plastics.” Award for developing high- performance composites from recovered polyolefins and applying them as structural parts that can be used as components for bridges, railroad ties, and other structures that meet military specifications. 
  • IAC Group (Luxembourg / Southfield, MI): Daniel Eberhardt Environmental Stewardship Award for making extensive use of recycled plastics in producing automotive interior components; reducing energy consumption through manufacturing efficiencies; and achieving large reductions in waste going to landfills.


2010: Award Winners

Environmental Stewardship Award Winners

Download 2010 Environmental Stewardship Award Winners (pdf)



Clean Technology Business Forum Winners

Download 2010 Clean Technology Business Forum Winners (pdf)

Download 2010 lean Technology Business Forum Finalists (pdf)

Student Poster Award Winners

Download 2010 Student Poster Award Winners (pdf)


2008: Award Winners

Environmental Award Winners

Download 2008 Environmental Stewardship Award Winners (pdf)

2008 Pictures from Environmental Award Winners:


Student Poster Award Winners

Download 2008 Student Poster Award Winners (pdf)

2007: Award Winners

Environmental Stewardship Award Winners

Download 2007 Environmental Stewardship Award Winners (pdf)

Student Poster Award Winners

Download 2007 Student Poster Award Winners (doc)