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March 9, 2016

Lots of Plastic Packaging can Go Green, ex-Manufacturing Engineer Says, Plus Other Green Supply Chain News


A Look this Week at some of the Top Stories in the Green Supply Chain

By The Green Supply Chain Editorial Staff

Retired Manufacturing Engineer Finds New Calling in Eliminating Plastic Packaging

Paul Tasner spent his career working with plastics as a manufacturing engineer at companies such as Clorox, California Closets and Method Products. Then lost his job in the thick of the recession at the age of 65 - and he decided instead to lead an anti-plastics charge in product packaging.

The Green Supply Chain Says:
The company is moving beyond just protective packaging to developing materials that are "sexy enough" to hang on shelves and able to replace the Styrofoam and plastic casings

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"I spent my entire career putting stuff in plastic packages - sometimes it was nasty plastic, sometimes it was recycled plastic, but at the end of the day, plastic is plastic," Tasner, now 70, recently told the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper and web site. "There's a better way to do this."

His company, Bay-area based PulpWorks, offers solutions to replace the plastic used to package consumer products, from cosmetics to consumer electronics, with much more eco-friendly materials made from sources such as recycled paper and agricultural waste.

The company is moving beyond just protective packaging to developing materials that are "sexy enough" to hang on shelves and able to replace the Styrofoam and plastic casings seen on mascara, office supplies and cell phone accessories.

Tasner has even came up with a Green alternative to blister packs.

"Think about walking down a cosmetics aisle in Walgreens or CVS, absolutely everything is packaged in plastic," Tasner said. "It's absolutely unnecessary."
He added that "Every plastic package we replace is one less piece of plastic that ends up in the landfill or in our oceans."

PulpWorks customers include T-Mobile, LeapFrog, Burt's Bees and Groupon.
For these and other customers, it designs custom fiber packaging specific to a given customer's needs. After creating a custom design, PulpWorks sends the specs and CAD files to one of the six contract manufacturing plants it uses for production - most of which are offshore but with some US production.

Five years after its start, PulpWorks is profitable and has racked up more than half a dozen awards for its mission of sustainability and eco-responsibility.

Apple Supplier Said to Violate Company's Overtime Labor Policy

As we await Apple's Supplier Responsibility Report for 2016, expected any day now, a human rights organization says its research found one of its major suppliers seems to be skirting rules relative to overtime.

Apple has set limits for its suppliers of a maximum 60-hour work week. However, New York-based non-profit group China Labor Watch recently examined pay stubs of some of the amazing 70,000 workers at a plant in Shanghai owned by Pegatron Corp., which makes the iPhone for Apple.

The group says the 1200 or some pay stubs it analyzed showed 71% of workers at the plant regularly put in more than 60 hours weekly.

China Labor Watch also said the factory violates China's own overtime regulations: The investigation also calculated average wages at the factory were only $1.82 an hour - that it would seem explains how Pegatron can afford so many workers.

In its 2015 Supplier Responsibility Report, Apple said 92% of its suppliers complied with its 60-hour weekly limit. We say if this is this is the worst of Apple's supply chain sins it is in pretty good shape.

Have Temperatures Really been Flat for Almost 60 Years?

There has obviously been a lot of debate about whether or not there has really been a "hiatus" in global temperatures over the past 18 years ago, contrary to many climate model predictions relative to the impact of rising C02 in the atmosphere.

Which leads to a blog post this week on, which is a global warming sceptic to say this least. The post, written by Tony Heller, notes that in their recent "2015 was the hottest year ever" press briefing, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists stated that they have a 58-year long record of radiosonde temperature recording.

(A radiosonde is a battery-powered telemetry instrument package carried into the atmosphere usually by a weather balloon that measures various atmospheric parameters and transmits them by radio to a ground receiver.)

But says Heller, the NOAA only showed the last 37 years in the graph, not the full 58 years or data.

Why? Heller believes it is because the earlier period data showed as much pre-1979 cooling as the post-1979 warming depicted in the graph NOAA did use.

He then stitched together a couple of graphs to create the chart below, which tracks temperatures dating back to the 1950s from NOAA's own data. (The multiple colored lines starting in 1979 represent temperatures when the balloons are at different levels of elevation.)


Graph of NOAAA Balloon Data Since 1950s


This combined chart shows "that the earth's atmosphere has not warmed at all since the late 1950's," falling sharply from the 1950 to about 1980, then rising back up to those previous levels, although indeed flattening back out in recent years.

Heller notes that for parts of the 1960s and 1970s, the well-recognized falling temperatures had may scientists worried about global cooling, not warming.

Do you agree mountains of plastic packaging can be taken out of the supply chain? What are the barriers? Any comments on our other two Green stories? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

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