The Compass Group closes deal to purchase Foam Fabricators, Inc.
We look back and owe the previous owner, Budd Florkiewicz, a huge debt of gratitude. He took very good care of the company and all of us for well over 25 years. Thank-you Budd.
Link to Compass purchase announcement: Compass_FFI
A really big Happy New Year!
Foam Fabricators is pleased to announce the sale of our company to a new owner, Compass Group compassequity.com. The transaction is expected to close by the end of February.
From Compass: "We look to acquire companies that we could own forever and that exhibit a clear "reason to exist". We are passionate about partnering with outstanding management teams and support them with patient growth capital."
Please feel free to check back here for more post-close details.
PDF link to Compass Announcement
We are very pleased to share the good news of winning a Global Supplier Quality Award from Haier-GE (GEA). Nice work Foam Fabricators, Inc. and thank-you GEA.
The most recent EPS Recycling Report is now available.
Click here for a pdf of the full report.
Recycle EPS packaging in one click!
If you, your friends or family need help recycling used EPS packaging - it's easy. Click here
Or you can just enter the word reuseps into any browser. Either way, once you're there it's pretty simple.
Want to call us? No problem : (800) 626-1197.
Is there a "foam problem" in the first place?
Great (non-industry) article about foam, politics and the truth. New York Post article
As we look at the safety of a polymer/plastic such as polystyrene, we should focus on the polymer, not its precursors. And polystyrene polymer is safe.
I suspect that much of the confusion over the safety of polystyrene stems from the similarity in names between polystyrene, a solid plastic, and styrene, a liquid chemical. Although the names sound familiar, polystyrene and styrene are different and have completely different properties. Styrene is a reactive substance that combines to form inert polystyrene. In other words, polystyrene does not have the properties of styrene.
This is true of all polymers (what we typically call plastics): they are different from the substances they are synthesized from. A common example is the difference between sugar and wood. Sugar is a substance with distinct properties. Join many sugar molecules together, and you get cellulose, the main polymer in wood.
So as we look at the safety of a polymer/plastic such as polystyrene, we should focus on the polymer, not its precursors. And polystyrene polymer is safe.
Some have questioned the potential impact of the tiny amount of styrene that can remain in the polystyrene polymer. The amount is minuscule and was difficult to detect until recent technological advances. The amount that potentially can transfer into foods is even smaller and is dwarfed by the amount of styrene that we all come into contact with in our daily lives.
A naturally occurring chemical, styrene was first extracted from the oriental sweetgum tree (also called levant styrax, after which styrene is named). The natural resin can be used as incense or to add a vanilla-like scent, while the oil has a woody aroma. Styrene’s chemical structure is similar to cinnamic aldehyde, the chemical component that creates cinnamon’s flavor.
Styrene is naturally present in several foods. It has been measured in foods that have not had contact with polystyrene containers. It is present in the highest concentration in coffee, cinnamon, beer and nuts.
In fact, styrene is everywhere in minute amounts. The air surrounding us always contains styrene from automobile exhaust, smoke, plant emissions and other sources. We also may recognize styrene by its distinctive odor (described by some as sweet) when using certain products such as latexes and paints.
The minute amount of styrene that may transfer from polystyrene containers into food or drink is about one-twentieth the overall amount we encounter every day when eating and breathing. Based on U.S. FDA’s safety calculations, this overall amount is orders-of-magnitude less than the agency’s “acceptable daily intake” of styrene.
In other words, there is no measurable risk. No governmental safety entity considers polystyrene a health risk. Numerous U.S. and state agencies, including the FDA, National Toxicology Program, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences, and Cal EPA, have stated such.
There are real risks out there that require our attention. And it’s important to make sure we use the best available science to measure and reduce those risks.
Polystyrene foam just isn’t one of those risks.
Ed’s Note: Toxicologist George Cruzan has a PhD in chemistry from The King’s College and a PhD in biochemistry from Purdue University. He has been a Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology from 1980 to 2015. He has served as president of ToxWorks, a toxicology consulting firm, since 1995, during which time he occasionally provided professional services to the American Chemistry Council.
Some very interesting information.
One big truth is, unless a material is made from nothing, everything has some impact on our environment. A big question then becomes, does the service the material provides offset or outweigh the initial impact?
Click here to visit the original Washington Post article (same as below but easier to read).
Hey - Let's talk trash about EPS...
Paper or plastic? In this competition plastic wins and EPS hits the ball out of the ball park. All plastic is only 8%, all polystyrene is less than 1/2 of 1%. EPS is a fraction of the less than 1%.
Click here to visit the EPS-IA website who generated the infographic below.
Full size pdf of the image above.
Is it possible to recycle EPS? YES!
The locations to do so are now approaching 500. EPS also has one of the highest plastics recycle rates.
The graphic below is courtesy of the EPS-IA. You can visit their facebook page here
Full size pdf of the image above.
How about this for a little common sense to help get us off to a good start.
Take a few minutes to read this Op-Ed piece from the L.A. Times. Did you know the products replacing "Styrofoam" often have a more detrimental affect on our environment than the material they are replacing? See the actual article here: article
Happy New Year !
To help get this new year off to good start here is the latest issue of our newsletter - REUSEPS.
REUSEPS Jan 2017 <<< link
If you have and questions or comments, please let us know here.
Foam Fabricators, Inc. founder passes on.
Theodore (Ted) Komen, who founded Foam Fabricators in 1957, age 90, passed away November 29th, 2016 in Stuart, FL. Ted was the majority owner of Foam Fabricators until 1982. Ted continued as President until his retirement in 1990.
Subaru does not just talk about "the problem" they do something about it. Good for them!
link to video > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSxMg0T7zHw
In many ways it is not only what happens to us in life that matters most, it is what we do about what happens that matters. This Subaru EPS recycling story illustrates that nicely. They receive a part their U.S. based plant needs in molded EPS. The EPS does it's job, the important and delicate part arrives in good working order. But then what to do with the molded EPS packaging that came all the way from Japan? Watch the video to find out how they turned what some would see as "a problem" into a money making environmental success story.
San Francisco packaging ban claims to solve problems - but it also generates a lot of questions...
On June 12th of this year the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a an amendment to an existing ordinance banning the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam in their city, regardless of where it is produced. This is a unique action in that it is the first such ban in this country to ban “transport packaging” as opposed to "food service" EPS.
Many feel this action was taken without much regard for the opposition and more importantly the facts and science behind said opposition. It has been suggested this ban has more to do with politics than the environment. In the article below from the EPS-IA is one such quote from the other side of this issue.
No one knows right now how all of this will work. The ordinance is set to go into effect next year. For example, when an electronic consumer device is produced overseas and shipped to a mass market retailer here in the U.S., will there be one kind of packaging for the city of S.F. and then typical packaging for the rest of the U.S.? Many feel that is an impossibility. And what if there is no other suitable alternative packaging material is available? Right now there are many more such questions than answers… We at Foam Fabricators, Inc. are following this issue closely and will do our best to advise our customers as more facts become available.
To see and read the actual ordinance click here.
Foam Fabricators, Inc. - ISO Certification Renewal (again).
We utilize the ISO quality system as an internal business management tool. For us the ISO certification not only a quality stamp of approval - it is how we run our business and it has been that way for many years.
In the almost 60 year history of the company we have only had two owners, and they knew each other... It is very typical for employees to stay with us for decades, many for 20 or 30 years, some more than that. We have had exactly the same name and been doing the same things since 1957. When it comes to things like packaging, reliability and consistency matter. In our industry, we are the Safe Harbor. Our ISO based business management system is a big part of that.
If you've had enough "change", tweets, texts and whatever the latest marketing fad or high-tech wizardry has to offer - contact us. We're into doing our very best to get your parts where they need to be, right, on time, every time, with some help from "Mr. ISO". That's all and that is our focus.
Click here to download the actual certificate. The image below is only one of several pages, for illustrative purposes.
The state of California has now added styrene to a list of over 800 other chemicals, under Proposition 65, which they feel can cause cancer. There is some styrene in polystyrene from which Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is derived. Foam Fabricators, Inc. converts EPS into many molded foam products, largely aimed at packaging and for some other uses too. It’s important to note the same officials taking this action recognize that EPS is safe. The potential health issue is not the existence of styrene in and of itself, it relates to how much styrene is safe and how much is not. It appears the state of CA will set the safe level of styrene at 27 micrograms/day. Initial studies of EPS packaging parts have resulted in styrene levels of about 1/3 of that safe level or less. A fair and accurate way to think about this is, in terms of a safe styrene speed limit. California is saying do not go above 27. EPS is driving at 10 or less.
Foam Fabricators, Inc. is committed to operating a safe and sustainable business which produces and sells products living up to the same high standards. We’re being proactive about communicating on this topic because doing so is helpful to all parties concerned. If you have any questions, comments or require further detail, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Breathing more new life into an already good idea - ClearView packaging.
Change can be good it just has to be well thought out, focused and applied by business entities with sufficient expertise and experience.
Many purchasing departments like to save $. Over the years we have see some of those well intentioned goals incrementally erode the quality, reliability, or both, of packaging which can actually ending up costing more in returns and re-work than the original incremental material cost-down was supposed to have saved! So what is the right answer? One solution is to examine how we're thinking about the problem of saving money. Abandoning incremental material cost-downs and considering structural packaging change is one way to get there, in some high volume situations.
In the right circumstances we think structural change, like ClearView, can address shipping/damage issues and get a long way down the road to that $_____/yr savings goal at the same time.
What is ClearView? In a snap-shot, you replace an outer corrugated container with clear plastic film. Other internal foam package redesign is usually needed and other things come into play like capital expenditures too. Having said all of that, we’re talking about net cost savings, all in… after all expenditures.
By high volume we typically mean 100k units/year and up. If you’d like to hear more please contact us at email@example.com.
How can ClearView save money?
- Reducing packaging material costs
- Reduced labor costs
- Reduction of damaged returns and miss-labeled goods
- Better marketing while your product is still in its package
- Increased automation/efficiency – high packaging rates
- Less required warehouse space for packaging materials
We don't make Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam cups like this but they are part of our overall industry.
(from Tiffany Greenway, Chick-fil-A)
You drink. You toss. You leave. But have you ever wondered what happens to your Chick-fil-A cup after you leave the restaurant? If you place it inside participating restaurants’ foam cup recycling bins, you might just be sitting on the answer.
From the beginning it’s been a love-hate relationship. Customers love the foam cup’s ability to keep drinks cold without getting soggy (we get lots of messages about cups), but hate the environmental impact of throwing them away.
So in 2012, Chick-fil-A became the first fast food company to take on polystyrene. Agile entrepreneurs helped us find our way in creating the voluntary foam recycling program many restaurants use today. Foam cups collected from the restaurants that opt in for the program are used to make benches and writing pens.
The process is complex. The journey requires three facilities located across the country. So go ahead, toss your cup – lid, straw, liquid and all – into a foam cup recycling bin, and pull up a seat to see the fascinating process that gives foam cups a second life.
In this new year Foam Fabricators has a lot to be proud of and happy about. We just finished a strong 2015. Next year will be our 60th anniversary. 2015 was a safe year inside of our company and we won some customer awards too. We all feel blessed and fortunate.
Thank-you to all of our customers and suppliers - we couldn't do all of this without you.
And now there is one more bit of "good news" to add to our list, we've been professionally published on TV and YouTube! The local TV station near our Erie, PA plant did a feature about us, how our business works and what we do, as part of a series about similar local companies. Click the link below to see the video.
FFI Erie, PA
This news and the article are about "food service" expanded polystyrene (EPS) not "transport packaging" EPS. Food service EPS normally always refers to disposable cups, dishware and utensils. Foam Fabricators is not in the food service supplies business but because it's all a form of EPS, it still matters. This article also brings forth the food service vs transport packaging (the latter being the business we are in) distinction and legal definitions. Several food service EPS bans in the U.S. have been attempted and a few have been put into effect. None are in effect for transport packaging.
(from the New York Times)
New York City’s ban on plastic-foam food containers, the once-ubiquitous vessels for Chinese takeout and curbside halal food, has been overturned, rejecting a signature environmental initiative of two mayors and clearing the way for an industry-backed plan to buy and recycle the items.
Describing the sanitation commissioner’s ban as “arbitrary and capricious,” Justice Margaret A. Chan of State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday denied the city’s claim that recycling used polystyrene containers “was neither environmentally effective nor economically feasible.”
The judge ordered the Sanitation Department to reconsider the ban in light of a proposal by a foam container manufacturer to pay for better machines to clean and sort the material and keep most of it out of landfills.
The ban, first proposed by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg two years ago and put into effect by Mayor Bill de Blasio in July, was seen as a tipping point in a national campaign to end the polymer’s use in products such as packaging and coffee cups.
The containers, which break into tiny pieces and linger in landfills, have joined, at least for the moment, large sugary drinks in withstanding bans championed by Mr. Bloomberg. His plan to restrict the drinks was defeated in court.
The city is exploring its options for reinstituting the ban, including an appeal. City officials had called it a way to protect city waterways and promote more environmentally friendly materials.
“We disagree with the ruling,” a de Blasio spokeswoman, Ishanee Parikh, said in a statement. “These products cause real environmental harm, and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets and waterways. We are reviewing our options to keep the ban in effect.”
The Restaurant Action Alliance, along with a group of manufacturers, recyclers and restaurants, sued the city in April to stop the ban. They said it was in fact possible to recycle the containers in a way that cut down on landfill additions and saved the city money.
The city delayed issuing fines until January 2016, but many businesses quickly replaced plastic foam with paper-based or legal plastic cartons.
Justice Chan’s ruling, made public on Tuesday, hinged on the question of whether the city had broken its obligation to recycle the used containers, as long as it could do so in a way that was efficient and environmentally effective. The sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, determined in December that the material was non-recyclable.
But Dart Container Corporation, a manufacturer in Michigan, put forward a plan that the company’s director of recycling, Michael Westerfield, said on Tuesday would allow the city to start recycling a wider variety of plastics and guarantee that products made from recycled foam containers made their way back into the market. “We view this as a win for recycling and the environment,” he said of Monday’s ruling.
As part of the plan, which Dart said it laid out to city officials in a dozen meetings before the ban was announced in January, the company would buy and install new sorting machines that it said would recover more than 90 percent of the foam. A recycler in Indiana promised to buy the bales of plastic material for at least five years and gave the city a list of buyers who were in the market for products refashioned out of the foam, the ruling said. Under the plan, Dart said only 5 percent to 10 percent of the material would end up in landfills.
Justice Chan said the city had ignored those figures and instead made much more conservative estimates. She said the city could make at least $400,000 by recycling 40 percent of its yearly plastic-foam waste.
Eric A. Goldstein, a lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the court had “glossed over” evidence that plastic-foam containers could not be recycled. “There’s not a single major city in the nation that has successfully implemented a recycling program for used polystyrene food containers, and the reason is simple: It doesn’t make economic sense,” Mr. Goldstein said.
Officials from the Bloomberg administration also cast doubt on whether the manufacturer had really found a better way to recycle plastic foam.
“The decision is clearly wrong,” a former deputy mayor for operations, Caswell F. Holloway, who led the administration’s efforts on foam, said in a statement. “The product has inflicted extraordinary environmental harm and should not be in use.” Mr. Holloway added, referring to Mr. de Blasio, “We’re glad he is going to continue this fight.”
Foam Fabricators Inc. (FFI) is conducting a search to fill an engineering position in our Bloomsburg, PA plant which is about 2.5 hours Northwest of Philadelphia. We typically hire mechanical and/or packaging engineers to fill these types of positions. This job opening is somewhat unique in that because of the high level of automotive business at this plant, candidates with an automotive or project management background will also be considered. Additionally, the company is expanding it’s automotive capacities at other FFI locations.
FFI has been in business, designing, testing and manufacturing expandable foams since 1957, all of that time under the guidance of only two owners. As a medium sized, nationwide, private company we have the stability, size and resources to pursue strategic goals and do so decisively.
Candidates desiring a stable, long term, results oriented opportunity are invited to apply. Please do so by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you in advance,
Foam Fabricators, Inc.
Mythbusting - The Evils of Plastics
I was fortunate to have a long conversation with Kerry Flickner last week. Flickner is the National Director - Waste Solutions for Foodservice Sustainability Solutions (Marietta, GA). He knew I was looking for commentary on the EPS foodservice debate that is ongoing in school districts, and expressed his frustration at the lack of scientific understanding leading to the many myths that surround plastic materials. The misinformation, in turn, leads to poor decision making among organizations and corporations in their efforts to be green and implement sustainability.
One of the myths that we discussed surrounds plastic materials, including EPS foodservice products, being put into landfills. Opponents decry the practice, because "plastic in landfills will last hundreds of years." That is true, but so does everything that is put into a sanitary urban landfill. "Modern sanitary landfills are designed to be tombs," said Flickner. "They are designed and built according to EPA regulations, which means nothing in a landfill will disintegrate."
Proof of that has been around for several decades now, since William Rathje (1945-2012) turned his Garbage Project from households to landfills in 1987. As a noted "garbologist," Rathje pioneered the study of modern refuse. His landfill studies revealed some astonishing findings, notably that items such as hot dogs and lettuce that had been entombed for years - looked as if they had just been thrown out.
"Rathje ignited a controversy in the 1980s, at a time when concern over discarded plastics began to peak," wrote Jeff Harrison in an obituary that appeared in a University of Arizona publication. "When surveyed, Americans listed fast-food containers, polystyrene foam and disposable diapers as the three largest contributors of waste.
"Garbage Project excavations at more than a dozen landfills around the United States showed that, combined, those three items actually made up only about three percent of landfill contents. Rathje theorized that people assumed litter accounted for a larger percentage of the total waste stream than it actually did," wrote Harrison.
So here we are, nearly three decades after Rathje began studying landfills and presenting us with the scientific facts, still fighting the myths surrounding the "evils" of EPS foam and the "horrors" of landfilling plastics. The school districts are perpetuating these myths by their failure to teach science and scientific facts. District leaders claim they are making these students "good stewards" of their environment. But good stewardship demands good science.
Many years ago, when I was writing editorials about Rathje's work and his findings about plastics in landfills, I was invited to speak to a science class at a local high school about plastic materials. At the time, plastics bashing was just coming into vogue. I brought a variety of plastic parts and products made from many different types of materials to show the students and explain the benefits of plastics to modern civilization. I also talked about the myths surrounding the evils of plastics and why the idea of recycling, which was also just coming into vogue, is a good solution, but not the only solution.
Landfilling plastics is a bad idea not because our landfills are filling up with plastics—they are not—or because plastics are harmful to the atmosphere (EPS, for example, is inert and adds nothing to the atmosphere). Sending plastics of any type to landfills is a bad idea because it is a waste of a valuable resource. It has value in recycling and reuse, and it has tremendous value in the waste-to-energy stream in an urban incinerator to provide an additional means of supplying power. Plastic is, at its origin, a natural resource that can produce energy and power, if only people would recognize this and take advantage of waste incineration.
While Rathje has passed on, his work still lives with us. If only science teachers in our schools would recognize his work and use it to develop viable programs for recycling that capture the true value of plastics, and to teach scientific fact—not mythology—to today's students.
(From Plastics Today - Clare Goldsberry)
California town repealing plastic bag ban
The bags are back, baby. At least in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Two years after banning single-use plastic bags from grocery stores in the seaside community of more than 200,000, the city council voted 6-1 on April 20 to repeal the city’s ban on plastic bags and a 10-cent fee for paper bags.
The repeal will get a second reading at the next City Council meeting on June 4 and be enacted 30 days after that. The single no vote came from Mayor Jill Hardy, who expressed concerns that citizens did not have enough notice and could not weigh in in time.
Councilman Mike Posey, who penned the repeal legislation, told the Orange County Register that the bag ban was the main reason he ran for City Council last year.
"It was the most important issue to me. This one single issue inspired me to run for City Council," Posey told the newspaper. "The ban has nothing to do with the environment. It has everything to do with a consumer’s freedom of choice. Grocers like the convenience, cost and utility of plastic bags."
Huntington Beach is the first community in the United States to repeal a bag ban already in effect. Last fall, the Fort Collins, Colo., City Council repealed an ordinance that would have imposed a 5-cent per-bag fee on paper and plastic bags before the ban’s April 1 kickoff date.
Supporters of the Huntington Beach ban, who favor it as a way to keep bags off the beaches and out of the ocean, may get their way eventually. A state-wide referendum to ban plastics bags across the board in California will be on ballots in November 2016.
(From Plastics News - Gayle Putrich)
Foam Fabricators, Inc. is very proud to congratulate Dave Wheeler on his 50th year of employment at our company. Wow - 50 years! That is quite an accomplishment. Thank you Dave.
We are VERY proud to be chosen as one of Electrolux's top suppliers. One of our Vice President's was honored to travel to Stockholm Sweden to receive this award.
Happy New Year!
Our industry's recycling rate report is published every two years and the new one is now available. It contains good news, the rate is up again.
Click here to see a summary 2013 recycling info.
Click here to see the full report.
Foam Fabricators prepares for a busy 2015... beyond our packaging business. Click here to read more automotive .
Yes... it is a "foam (EPS) castle". This is a real project and super energy efficient! To read more follow this link eps castle.
To learn more about the molded EPS product used to produce a project like this, click here.
We have two job openings, go here to find out more.
Both are for Packaging Engineers in the SE and NE United States. Automotive experience is helpful.
How about a Good News story? Molded foam as you can see in many places below provides a lot of service, and in some cases safety, to many people. Think about a bike helmet... Those are almost all molded EPS.
But then the questions becomes, for single-use expendable packaging (like the end caps below) - what happens to those when they're done doing their job? Over the year the recycling rate for single use material like molded EPS have gone up and up. Here is a link to more information about that: recycle rates. But what happens to that recycled form then? Here's one great answer to that question.
glu6 nine lives products (pdf of the story)
Nine Lives Products (NLP) makes safe, clean, all natural glue from 100% recycled EPS ! Here is a great example of people and a company not just talking about how to solve an issue but actually doing something positive about it. Nice job NLP. Here is a link to their website where you can actually be part of the solution too by buying the glue: https://www.ninelivesproducts.com
Did you know molded foam, like EPS, is not just used for packaging?
Most everyone knows about typical packaging applications like this one.
(computer pc end caps)
But did you also know that a lot of molded foam is used to replace (hard) injection molded plastic and sheet metal? Replacing those two materials in some places within a car makes it lighter, safer and more fuel efficient. For the last 15+ years molded EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) has been a mainstay for bumpers. As you can see in the picture below, based on that bumper success molded foam, largely EPP, has found it's way inside the auto too.
Whether we are talking about molded foam, EPS or otherwise, is biodegradability always the best "end of life" solution? Interestingly, the answer is - no. It can be a good solution for some materials, sometimes... but it is not the Holy Grail it was once believed to be.
Here's a good biodegradability article that was published late last year in Packaging Digest. It's fair minded and takes a good objective look at the whole topic.
Biodegradabilty (link to pdf)
And here is a link to the article in Packaging Digest: article
This video has a lot of good information about EPS, what it is, how it's made, where it ends up and more. It is only 6 minutes long and pretty much tells the whole story. There are also a lot of interesting applications featured.
Foam Fabricators, Inc. is a long time supporter and member of the EPS-IA (Expanded Polystyrene Industry Association). This group helps people and companies in many ways. The EPS-IA has several sub-groups one of which is a new Sustainability Committee. The new committee launched a Facebook page this year. Have a look, there are a lot of interesting things there!
This video is about fish boxes, packaging, EPS and our environment. It follows packaging through a whole life cycle and there are a lot of interesting facts about service, science and the overall (and overlooked) role of humble packaging. It's about five and a half minutes and worth a watch. Enjoy.
Happy New Year 2014 !
reuseps Jan 2014 newsletter
Recycling EPS foam packaging to help cats? Hey - you have to read it!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
From all of your friends at Foam Fabricators, Inc.
The most current version of the EPS Newsline is out and now available.
EPS-IA Newsline (link)
There are a lot of interesting articles, including; Recycled EPS resin; New ASTM recycle code; Litter education (for schools); Cold Chain Packaging and much more!
The 2012 National EPS Recycling Report is out and it's good news again.
Highlights of the 2012 report include:
• 36.7 million pounds of post-consumer EPS recycled, a modest decrease compared to 2010
• 56.9 million pounds of post-industrial EPS recycled, a notable increase compared to 2010
• 93.7 million pounds of total EPS recycling in 2012
• 2012 EPS Recycling Rate = 36%
What this means is two things are working. 1) The molded foam and associated industries keep installing recycling infrastructure. And 2) You are doing your part too. Thank You!
Recycling Report (click to open or save). This report is published every two years, the last one was 2010.
Recycling facts and recycling progress!
Recycling Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is an interesting topic. On one hand there is very little of it in the waste stream because very little of it is, in relative terms, produced in the first place. To read more about that, follow this link Waste Streams
But there are times and places where it makes sense to recycle EPS. Here is a great example of one of those; recycle to plastic video . More centers like this are popping up all the time. Keeping the need to recycle in context is important. Recycling resources need to match the waste stream size. This is why curbside EPS recycling rarely makes sense. But that does not mean recycling EPS never does… The video shows a recycling business in an urban area, near an Ikea, and it's working. Good for them!
The New and Improved Recycled Content EPS is now fully commercially available.
Story sideline, does it work...? Foam Fabricators, Inc. has been working with Nova for many months on the development of this material, was the largest consumer of the previous EcoSix material and now the new R625B. After a lot of molding and testing... Yes it does work and it works well !
Below you see some third party testing (ISTA) we had done, during development late last year. The test results were quite good.
Second sideline, R625B?
R = Recycled, 6 = the designation for polystyrene, 25 = 25% recycled content, and B = the partical (bead) size.
Below is the Nova press release and here is the product data sheet. This is a more detailed overview of the recycled content EPS
Foam Fabricators, Inc. is very committed to Quality and it's Business Management System.
After a LOT of work by a lot of dedicated FFI employees, our ISO certification has been renewed through May of 2016 in the USA and Mexico.
Great Job Baltimore!
Some folks want to recycle. Some talk about it. Then others - get after it and get it done!
Would you like help recycling? Different people, communities and companies need different kinds of assistance. Click here for recycling help (info., email, 1-800...).
Should we ban automobiles?
An interesting topic is this one… When you see litter floating in a lake, stream or the ocean, is that a behavioral problem or a material issue? Another way to put that is this; do you go after the person who "littered" and try to fix that bad behavior, or, do you ban the material?
It's kind of easy to leap at banning the material, but what about all the other garbage sitting on the bottom of that same body of water? Is that litter okay because you can't see it and the litter that floats, is not okay, because you can see it?
If we're going to ban foam because it floats, if a drunk driver crashes his car - should we ignore the driver and try to ban automobiles? For more details about all of this, follow this link
Once we set emotional reactions aside and take actions based on facts - we can actually improve the situation.
Thank you for caring enough to take the time to understand the facts about this issue.
Making a safe material even safer and staying ahead of the curve...
"Modified" EPS is a flame retardant version of "regular" EPS, typically used for building materials. Currently Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD or HBCDD) is used as a brominated flame retardant i.e., what makes modified EPS flame retardant. A global ban on HBCD is currently being considered under the framework of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
While the EPA in the U.S. has still not initiated any formal regulatory action concerning HBCD, only the intent to regulate, there has been a considerable amount of activity within the US EPA Design For Environment (DFE) HBCD Alternatives Assessment, first initiated in May 2011.
To stay in front of this issue, not waiting for regulation, over the past several months the EPS industry has been working with member resin suppliers, testing laboratories and ICC Evaluation Services to determine what level of testing will be required to obtain evaluation reports for expandable polystyrene resin using a new polymeric flame retardant that will be replacing HBCD.
The actual sun-setting of HBCD in the U.S. and their replacement by new polymeric flame retardants is not expected to be regulated for several more years, sometime around 2016. But our industry is working on a polymeric flame retardants transition now such that it can happen in the next year or so, well ahead of any regulatory action. Both the cost and performance of the new non-HBCD EPS are expected to remain the same. Additionally, no further or added testing of modified molded EPS parts is expected to be required.
polymeric flame retardant < click here for more details
Are companies really switching from molded EPS to "mushroom packaging" (the picture below on the left) ?
Some have and many then switched back. The mushroom pkg is four times heavier than EPS and there are other complications. EPS on the other hand is and always has been
And low cost
for many decades. Play it safe and stick with what works.
Where can I recycle molded EPS foam? There are a lot of places to do so and we can help. Follow this link for the exact locations > where
Ban Plastic! We hear that from time to time, but after emotions cool off and critical thinking kicks in, two other big topics always must be addressed. 1) After we ban it, what do we replace it with? What other material can dependably and reliably do the same job? And 2) Do we really fully understand all of the services the banned material provides? In other words, okay, we ban the EPS packaging, but then is it ok if the TV, computer or camera arrives broken? Or is it ok if the medicine or food arrives spoiled? Once people understand there is no simple, easy replacement for EPS, and, that it provides many beneficial services - critical thinking kicks in.
Mr. Webster says critical thinking is; disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence.
Here is a great example that that. Harvard Medical School appied clear thinking to their EPS medical cooler inbound shipments and the question of ban or…
Link to the full article >>> hms
How fast is Foam Fabricators customer service?
Fast! You can see a couple of FF employees here (notice the tail letters) on their way to help a customer in need.
EPSMA, AFPR Consolidate to form EPS Industry Alliance
New trade association will represent all facets of EPS industry
CROFTON, MD March 14, 2012 – The EPS Industry Alliance has been established as a new trade association to represent the expanded polystyrene (EPS) industry. The EPS Molders Association (EPSMA) and the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR), two separate organizations previously representing distinct EPS market segments, have consolidated their resources to create an organization that will represent the entire industry. In addition to EPSMA and AFPR, the Plastic Loose Fill Council (PLFC) has also been integrated in to the EPS Industry Alliance. “After years of working separately, often towards common goals, consolidating EPSMA and AFPR just made sense,” says EPS Industry Alliance Executive Director Betsy Steiner. “We see tremendous potential for this merger to advance the EPS industry”.
EPS-IA full press release
Link to new EPS-IA website
No big new news here. And that's just fine with us.
When it comes to packaging and molded foam production people don’t want “change”. What they want is stability, reliability and consistency. Foam Fabricators, Inc. has had the same name, logo and been doing the same successful things – since 1957.
Play it safe. Rely on the company with a 50+ year track record of customers depending on us to… not change.
What often hits the news headlines are the, well… the headlines. Here's a great example of how misleading a only headline can be.
One would think California is about to ban Styrofoam, but as you read this post while that is a part of the story, it goes on to ask some good questions. Like; if the root problem is garbage of any kind being in an improper place, is that the fault of the garbage or the person who put it there. If drunk drivers harm innocent bystanders, should we ban cars or address drunk driving?
Further, restaurant operators go on to say they have to use two of the "green" alternatives to do the job of one traditional foam container. Is that really green?
Then another post points out the original Styrofoam container is in fact recyclable.
What the California Legislator wants (less garbage, clean beaches, cost savings, etc…) are admirable goals. The question is how to achieve them? If a home burns down, do you ban houses or improve fire safety, response and education?
NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) issues report on Styrene, but also says Polystyrene (EPS) is safe
Last week the National Toxicology Program (NTP) released its (Roc) Report on Carcinogens, which included the substance styrene despite significant appeals from The Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC). SIRC and other trade associations whose members rely on styrene worked diligently to persuade Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to “double-check” the science and process behind the listing of styrene in the 12th Report on Carcinogens before HHS issued the report. Despite the efforts of SIRC and others, the NTP denied the appeal and listed styrene as ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’.
This action is unfortunate for a few important reasons, among many others;
The NIEHS had to clarifiy the RoC listing relative to polystyrene.. “Styrene should not be confused with polystyrene. Although styrene, a liquid, is used to make polystyrene, which is a solid plastic, we do not believe that people are at risk from using polystyrene products EPS (is safe link). The listing in the RoC is specific for styrene and is based on studies of workers exposed to high levels of styrene in the workplace.”
The ACC (American Chemistry Council) and SIRC are leading the forthcoming legal challenge to the new listing based upon the lack of sound science to support the designation.
See this link for more information on styrene Styrene
ACC information on styrene and the RoC report ACC
More information on the RoC is available at their website NIEHS
In practical terms, this is analogous to the RoC listing automotive paint as a carcinogen leading to moms not letting their children touch the family car and the end of washing cars in the driveway or car wash fundraisers - when the only way a human could be exposed to enough automotive paint to be a carcinogen would be to drink it in its liquid form.
If you have any further questions, comments or concerns, please contact us at email@example.com
Do people really use Foam Fabricators recycling resources?
"I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for your excellent service. Our company, EWaste Disposal, is helping a client recycle as much as possible from their facility as it is being shut down. The client had many pallets of foam that he didn't want going to the landfill. We decided to take the foam, didn't know what we were going to do with it, but knew we didn't want it going to the landfill. Our operations manager contacted your company and you were willing to take it for FREE. We were told it would be used to make other products. Thank you for helping us to eliminate the foam going to a landfill, but providing an avenue for it to be reused. Please feel free to use our company as a testimonial to your company's environmental responsibility. Joan Meeks - Partner Chief Marketing Officer EWaste Disposal ."
Thanks for the nice note Joan!
To recycle or not recycle... (is that really a question?)
Not all molded foam should be recycled and it’s a good thing it doesn’t bio-degrade. That’s an odd way to begin talking about “recycling”, but it’s true. Here are some examples…
• You wouldn’t want that bike ice chest to do anything, but, be an ice chest.
• We hope the insulation in your home lasts forever.
• It would be a bad thing if the EPS energy absorbers in your car, went away.
• The molded foam air ducts in your refrigerator should last as long as the refrigerator does.
There are more examples, but you get the point. Many things made from molded foam are intended to last for a long, long, time. One-use, or expendable packaging, is in a different category though.
While it’s doing its job, it is very efficient and very safe. Think about the simple (yet amazing) molded EPS coffee cup or a cup-of-noodles container. Only a few grams of foam does a lot of work. EPS is and has been for many decades; safe, clean, light-weight, reliable and efficient – all at a low cost.
Molded foam is “safe” for two big reasons:
(1) Whether it’s a coffee cup or coffee machine packaging it is about 95% air and 5% plastic. Think about that. Molded foam is mostly air. In the pictures you see here, we’re looking at microscopic cells of EPS (the first one is a molded part, the second one is that same part's individual beads and the last one is looking into the cells of those same beads). When you see in the cells (what molded foam is made from) you can see why it’s 95% air. The very thin polystyrene cell walls trap air, like little balloons. That’s why EPS is so light, cushions and is a good insulator.
(2) It is chemically inert. Nothing that can harm you will ever “get out” of the foam and into you. That’s why the FDA considers EPS safe for food use/direct contact and it’s why you can pour that boiling water in that cup-of-noodles, and, it’s perfectly safe.
Interestingly, #2 is also why if molded foam does find its way into a landfill, it’s safe there too. Unlike some paper items with ink on them, that bio-degrade, nothing will ever leak or leach out of EPS to pollute the soil or ground water. And that is THE landfill issue. We’ll never run out of room for them, it’s what can leak out of dumps that is the problem.
But, reducing, re-using and recycling are the best places to be. Thanks to the whole “green” movement a lot of time and care is given to minimizing the size of the packaging we design in the first place. Our engineers do that every single day, literally. We also re-use foam packaging every day too. We take back foam and recycle it in our own plants and we purchase reprocessed polystyrene resin, made from recycled EPS EcoSix. Last, we created an environmental resource “reuseps” www.reuseps.com dedicated to helping people do the right thing with “used foam”.
What is the right thing to do? Now you know the answer. That depends on what it was intended to do in the first place.
Google or Bing the word reuseps. It will come up number one every single time. It’s a one-word one-click way to get recycling help and it's how we take responsibility for the products we produce - after they have efficiently, cleanly and safely done their jobs.
Q1 - 2010 - "EcoSix" Update
With Rapac’s support Foam Fabricators has continued to make more progress… The picture below is of molded EcoSix material/parts which were recently produced in one of our plants. These parts will be tested in April and assuming the results are positive, we will then move into full production!
Check back for more updates.
Like most any new technology or material, the current supply of this material is somewhat limited. The supply will be increased over time to match marketplace demand.
If you would like to source parts from this material and/or want more information about doing so, please just click this link firstname.lastname@example.org .
Prior to recently spending the time to understand what can legally be claimed with respect to “100% recycled content” EPS materials that can be purchased by Foam Fabricators, Inc (FFI), our position has been to essentially go along with what the market has been doing, but, only say; “up to 100%...” until we fully understood the detail.
FFI has not been too active in this specific area, because, we have been more focused on establishing processing parameters, the boundaries of consistency and reliability and fully understanding the physical properties of recycled content material, relative to virgin EPS. We mold a broad spectrum of parts for many divergent markets and industries, so fully understanding all of this performance data was no small task.
After working through the aforementioned, we recently turned our attention to trying answer many questions relating to what can legally be said, and proven, with respect to recycled content percentages. While voluntary industry organizations such as the AFPR (Association of Foam Packaging Recyclers) and the ACC (American Chemical Council) do weigh in on this subject, we feel the most objective source and standard can be found within the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). And the FTC has very specific guidelines relating to this subject.
FTC Part 260(e) says (in part);
“A manufacturer routinely collects spilled raw material and scraps left over from the original manufacturing process. After a minimal amount of reprocessing, the manufacturer combines the spills and scraps with virgin material for use in further production of the same product. A claim that the product contains recycled material is deceptive since the spills and scraps to which the claim refers are normally reused by industry within the original manufacturing process, and would not normally have entered the waste stream”.
The full FTC Part 260 guidelines can be seen at www.ftc.gov/bcp/grnrule/guides980427.htm
Given this rather practical guideline any scrap/rejected material in any EPS resin and/or part manufacturing chain that we or our raw material suppliers would typically reclaim and reprocess anyway, cannot contribute to a “recycled content” claim because these materials are not being diverted from the waste stream which would otherwise end up in a landfill or similar outcome. This same basic reasoning extends to the blowing agents in the EPS, additives in it and coatings on it. So from both a literal and practical standpoint, it does not seem possible for any company to claim 100% recycled content EPS.
We are presently working with a raw material supplier, Rapac, to clearly establish and agree on what can reasonably be claimed with respect to all this, such that our customers can do this same while maintaining the integrity of their brands and the credibility of their “green” marketing claims. Based on what we know now, we can safely say that EPS parts molded by FFI from Rapac’s EcoSix material will contain in excess of 50% recycled EPS. Rapac is additionally undertaking the project of establishing and undergoing third party certification to document/back-up this claim.
Foam Fabrications interests are to live up to both the language and the spirit of what we believe to be a high and objective standard that would be perceived by the general public as both true and fair. Doing so protects our customers good names and allows our customers to do exactly the same thing. These taken in tandem should result in preserving long term consumer confidence.
Rapac, L.P. and Foam Fabricators, Inc working together on High % Recycled Content Packaging
Packaging and the packaging business is unique in a few of ways. One is that we produce and sell a "necessary evil". Think about it, no one would buy packaging if they didn't have to… yet, almost everyone does for almost everything. Another interesting aspect is that if you're a packaging supplier, the best thing to be is; "invisible". If packaging works the way it's supposed to, no one gives it a second thought and over time it fades into the background. However, if you want instant attention (kind of the opposite of being invisible) you will get it, if, the packaging does not function properly. It is an absolute fact that all packaging engineers and buyers have no sense of humor whatsoever when a $500.00 item cannot be shipped, or is failing in the field, because $.90 worth of packaging is not working as it should.
Because most packaging quietly does its job, when environmental pressure builds, packaging becomes an easy target. No one would think of banning an iPod a Nintendo Wii or fresh flowers to help the environment. They all have value, provide a service or maybe are just fun. But we all need to be careful about banning or even changing packaging - just because it's in the background. If that packaging isn't there doing its job, right, the first time and every single time you won't get that iPod, Wii or those flowers…
What are we getting at here? We all need packaging that works and that isn't going to change any time soon. So the point of all this is; there is environmental pressure on a lot of things, including packaging and we're doing many things about that. We are constantly making sure packaging designs are efficient and as minimalistic as they can be. We spend a lot of time recycling, helping people recycle and adding recycled content to the packaging we produce. And this last piece is in the process of taking a big step forward.
Foam Fabricators, Inc. is working with a company named Rapac, L.P. www.ringcompanies.com/rapachome which produces a plastic resin "EcoSix" we can mold EPS packaging from that contains in excess of 50% recycled content. The processing trials are going well and we are hopeful to be moving into limited production soon. After that we will carefully scale the use of this material up to meet customer demand. And after reading the beginning of this little story, you now understand why we say "carefully scale up…". Rapac's EPS material must meet the same 10 criteria for success that common EPS has been for decades. These are:
1 - Product protection
2 - Producer quality control
3 - User utility and convenience
4 - Cost effectiveness
5 - Marketability
6 - Global availability
7 - Material processability/stability
8 - Distribution chain reliability
9 - Environmental compatibility
10 - Consumer safety
For a package to be successful, you don't get to pick, all ten criteria must be met. And with Rapac's material... so far, so good! Check back here for updates or email us for more information at email@example.com
How about a little summertime humor... ; )
Would you like a full resource and environmental analysis on EPS, well here it is… Full EPS LCI
Do you need help putting a recycling program together? Follow this link Thinking clean and acting green
Several environmental studies are coming out that tell an old story; there are no quick-n-easy green answers and/or magical all-in-one green solutions.
There are applications and situations where it makes sense not to use molded foam. If all you need is blocking and bracing other materials may make sense…
But if you need cushioning and/or insulation – molded foam is usually the best choice. What’s news is; environmental cradle to grave studies indicate that molded foam is a reasonable and responsible choice – and that paper alternatives do not necessarily have less environmental impact.
EPS Sustainability Summary
Molded pulp or EPS?
If you'd like more information go here reuseps.com or click this link to have a Foam Fabricators representitive contact you firstname.lastname@example.org
Worried about navigating the current rough economic waters? We can help.
Foam Fabricators, Inc. announces it's new (old) "brand". You didn't know we had a brand... ? Follow the link below.
Thanks for visiting.
The packaging show in Chicago was a success and we'd like to thank all who visited us. The centerpiece of our booth was; "molded foam - the environmentally responsible choice" Click the links below for more detail...
November 08 Newsletter
Follow this link to go strait to www.reuseps.com
This year our booth will feature an enviornmental update that will surprise a lot of people! Maybe molded foam was the right (low impact) choice all along...
Pack Expo is fast approaching and we're exhibiting again this year. We have 100 free registrations for our customers. Please stop by and visit our booth - E-6303.
To register, got to www.packexpo.com
- Select the "PMMI Trade Show" tab at the top of the page.
- Select "Register PEI 2008" and then “Register Now”
- In the “Registration Type” section, enter code 28V72. The registration fee will be waived prior to checkout - if you're one of the first 100 and do so on-line prior to 11-5.
Thanks and we hope to see you in November!
You can take a plant tour right here on our website. Just follow this link... FFI Mfg Plant
Good news - The EPS recycling report is out and the rate is up again, to almost 20%. Follow this link for more information and/or the full report.
New Recycling Report
Did you know Foam Fabricators has a new "green" brochure? Here it is: FFI 08 Brochure
50 years of growth continues! Foam Fabricators bucks the trends and adds a new plant to its system, in South Carolina.
Effective December 8, 2007 Foam Fabricators has acquired an additional molding plant in Anderson South Carolina. The plant will begin production December 10, 2007 which will enhance our presence in the South East United States and will provide additional capacity to allow us to take advantage of growth opportunities.
Jim Sammons will relocate from our Fort Madison plant and will be plant manager of the new Anderson plant. Until we retain a permanent plant manager for the Jefferson plant Jim will also oversee operations in Jefferson
follow these links for updated contact information address phone
We’ve merged our Dallas, TX fabrication operation and our Keller, TX molding plant into one physical location, in Keller. The State of Texas widened the road in front of our Dallas plant, triggering the move. We leased more space in the same building in Keller so now both businesses are under one roof. While any move is a lot of work, in the end this enhances our efficiencies and the move itself was accomplished with no impact on our customers.
follow these links for updated contact information address phone
We have updated the recycing portion of this site to adress sustaianability from a complete life cycle perspective. Please take a look EPS and Sustainability
Longtime Foam Fabricators employee James Hughes is promoted to President.
Click the link bellow to view the announcement from our owner.
From all of us at Foam Fabricators - We'd like to share our 50th Anniversary message and thank you for doing your part in helping us to achieve this golden milestone. We couldn't have done it without you!
Please view our Anniversary/Thank-You card at:
The best is yet to come,
Foam Fabricators, Inc at Pack-Expo
We'll be at booth E-8612.
More info about Pack-Expo: http://pei2006.packexpo.com/content/factsheet.html
More info about Foam Fabricators at Pack-Expo: http://packexpo2006.bdmetrics.com/portal/viewcompany.aspx?id=1876938
Do you need a free pass to the show? We have some, but quantities are limited.
Contact your local Foam Fabricators salesperson, call 800-626-1197 or email email@example.com
What will you see....?
We're introducing our "LITE" program at this years Pack-Expo in Chicago which runs from Sunday October 29th ~ Thursday November 2nd.
L - Lower Costs
I - Increased Protection
T - Through
E - Engineered Solutions
Want more information about the "LITE" program right now? Follow this link LITE
Also please visit one of our partner companies, Cold Chain Technologies at booth N-4833. For more information see http://packexpo2006.bdmetrics.com/portal/viewcompany.aspx?id=1877629
issue: July 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine
by Erin Biesen, Assistant Editor
Suppliers provide the necessary packaging solutions for OEMs and keep them up to date on new technology.
SmartMove Conveyors is seeing a growing trend to incorporate computers and controls into conveyor equipment.
There are three major factors that most OEMs and suppliers take into consideration when looking at packaging materials and equipment for appliances—product protection, cost and automation. One of the more important is protection of the product from the manufacturing warehouse to the home.
“[We want] assurance that the part or product is adequately protected during its rigorous journey from manufacturer to consumer,” says Bob Ryan, vice president of marketing for Bradford Company, a maker of packaging products and material handling systems in Holland, Michigan, U.S. “Class ‘A’ parts are generally high ‘value added’ products and must be properly packaged to avoid abrasion, surface damage and breakage.” Atul Vir, president of Equator Appliances, located in Houston, Texas, U.S., notes that product damage can be one of the most consequential issues manufacturers face. “Consumers wait to have their appliances delivered and if it gets there with even the smallest blemish they are not going to be happy,” Vir says. “Then the consumer wants a replacement and there is the problem of who takes responsibility for the damage—the dealer, the distributor, the manufacturer?”
Damage en route can come from many sources. Not only are there bumps and bruises that occur along the way, but also temperature variance. “The [packages] need enough hot-melt or cold adhesive to hold the package together under extreme transportation conditions, hot, cold, etc.,” explains Joe Klimesh, Nordson area manager (Duluth, Georgia, U.S.). “Sealing with hot-melt or liquid adhesives also contributes to the structural integrity of the package. Appliances and appliance parts that are shipped and stacked benefit the most.” An example of this is a corrugated box with flaps. If the OEM uses hot-melt adhesive to seal this type of package it penetrates into the fiberboard, which Klimesh says allows for a stronger bond than staples or tape. Strong packaging methods also help manufacturers determine the success of a packaging system. “A returned product is a sure sign of an unhappy customer,” says Stacy Webb, regional manager for Foam Fabricators, Inc. in Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S. “If the appliance company can determine the cause of this return, then the returns related to damaged products would give an effective measurement of how well the package system performed.”
Specifically speaking about tape, 3M notes that one of the major issues that appliance retailers are concerned about is whether or not the tape holds during shipping and also can be removed cleanly after it is stored in the hot or cold conditions of a warehouse. “If the tape does not remove cleanly, the consumer is left to their own devices in deciding how to remove adhesive residue,” says Sam Lamberta, senior packaging specialist at 3M in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S. “This may result in damage to the surface of a new appliance, which could lead to a complaint call to the appliance manufacturer and possibly even a service call at the manufacturer’s expense.”
Foam Fabricators, Inc. is one of several packaging companies continuously trying to create strong, successful packaging systems.
Cost is a major consideration that OEMs must look at when changing or altering packaging processes, including the cost of potentially damaged products. “Prevention of damage is the only way to keep costs down,” says Ryan of Bradford Company. “In order to make good packaging decisions, knowledge of materials and the proper testing protocols are key.”Testing can help. Webb of Foam Fabricators, Inc. expresses the importance of shipping simulations in order to prevent particular areas of damage. “Many appliances have areas of vulnerability to damage that the package and packaging system must address. Shipping simulations will find them.” LG Electronics notes that increasingly appliances are being shipped overseas from their factory of origin to the consumer, which needs to be taken into account when packaging is specified. “There are various factors that need to be taken into consideration and tested when designing a packaging system, these include shock, vibration and temperature,” says Jay Lee, engineering manager of Digital Appliances, LG Electronics USA, Inc., a subsidiary of LG Electronics Inc. (Seoul, Korea). “By having these processes in place, we ensure our products will be shipped, handled and received in their manufactured condition,” added Richard Donner, LG’s director of Standards and Regulatory Compliance. “This also helps reduce expenses due to damages from inferior protective packaging.” Klimesh of Nordson states that both retailers and end users require undamaged cartons. “Damaged cartons are returned to the manufacturer,” he says. “Return shipping, product repair, product re-packaging, and re-shipping are becoming unacceptable costs in today’s lean manufacturing environment.”
In 1948 Dana Chase Publications, Inc., publisher of APPLIANCE magazine, noticed the high levels of loss during shipment of porcelain enameled products. Publisher Dana Chase Sr. realized that simply putting the right programs in place to address the issue could prevent millions of dollars in finished products loss. This notion led eventually to the creation of the National Safe Transit Committee (NTSC). NTSC determined that there needed to be prevention instead of just a cure for the problem of in-transit damage. The committee developed standard shipping tests to see if a packaged product could withstand the typical transportation shocks, “Project 1 and 1A,” and in 1952, the first Transit Tested label was put to use.Much has changed for the organization in the last 55 years, including a change of name to the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) in 1994. The Transit Tested program today has been developed to help protect products and profits through reduced damage and product loss, provide economically balanced distribution costs, provide reduced damage claims, and reduce packaging development time.ISTA now offers a list of suggestions to help companies improve upon their protective packaging systems to reach a goal called Just Right Transport Packaging. The Just Right approach calls for a product to be made as rugged as economically possible, then adds packaging designed with just enough of the right type of materials to protect against hazards during distribution. The testing used in this approach takes into account all the potential distribution hazards that could come during different modes of transit, including shock, vibration, compression, and atmospheric hazards. The approach makes a point of testing only for the hazards and intensity levels that may be present, which requires that environmental hazards, packaging performance and product fragility be quantifiable in engineering terms. The association states a company should test the packaged product, know the distribution environment that the product moves through, continuously review and improve, and stay up to date.There is also a Transit Tested program, which is the ISTA test procedures and projects for packaged-products. The benefits of this program include protection of products and profits through reduced damage and product loss, economically balanced distribution costs, reduced or eliminated claims hassles, shortened package development time and confidence in product launch, and customer satisfaction and continued business. For more information on ISTA, visit www.ista.org.
Incorporating automation into the packaging process can help in removing the cost of errors and damages. “Automating the manual taping process not only results in a cost savings, but also insured precise tape placement and consistency,” says Lamberta of 3M. “Automating adhesive application systems,” according to Klimesh, “provides superior line speeds and fewer chances for operator error compared to tapes or staples.” He adds that automating the adhesive process allows personnel to be better utilized in other manufacturing and production areas, which could reduce the overall cost of manufacturing. “Good adhesive systems often operate 24/7 for months at a time with minimal maintenance. An investment in a quality adhesive system also helps assure greater productivity and less downtime.”
Protecting the Environment
Packaging companies are trying to be environmentally conscious when creating or incorporating new materials. “This industry has gone to great lengths educating the public on recycled products,” says Webb. “Foam, corrugate and plastic are all recyclable materials. As we continue this path, consumers are more aware of how to properly dispose of the package.”Cold glue can typically be recycled more easily than hot-melt. “Cold adhesive is an emulsion, which is processed and becomes part of the new recycled paper without impacting quality,” says Klimesh. “Hot-melt must be removed during the recycling process.”Environmental standards are having an impact on the packaging industry as retailers and manufacturers are being forced to reduce the amount of waste their products generate. One of the largest components of this is expendable packaging. According to Ryan, the use of biodegradable materials and exploration of returnable packaging are important possibilities. “In the industry, I think we are all trying to work toward environmentally safe packaging methods,” says Vir of Equator Appliances. “Europe is further ahead with its wide spread use of Styrofoam and shrink wrap.”
Bradford notes the importance of getting products safely from the manufacturer’s warehouse to the consumer’s home.
Up and Coming in Equipment
There are numerous views as to what the major packaging methods will be and are currently growing into being important. Greater flexibility and control of the process will certainly be required.
SmartMove Conveyors, Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S., is seeing integration of computers and controls growing in conveyor equipment. “In the past many of these packaging ‘upgrades’ occurred at the integrator, and are now being requested direct from the conveyor manufacturer,” says Gregory Ferguson, vice president. “That is why SmartMove has introduced the digital controller for its conveyor line. Now ‘smart’ production engineers can work with a conveyor that is easily programmed to meet their requirements.”Nordson is noticing a trend toward the use of dual gluing using hot-melt and cold glue adhesive systems. Cold glue can provide the packaging superior strength and make recycling easier, however it does take longer to dry. The hot-melt system quickly processes adhesives from 200°F to more than 400°F (100°C to 205°C), holding the flaps closed while the glue dries. “We expect that the appliance industry may soon follow the packaging trends that are becoming standard in other industries, combining hot-melt and cold glue systems,” says Klimesh.3M sees custom equipment as a growing packaging trend. Unique equipment is designed to specially apply a particular type of the company’s tape and can locate the exact point of the tape application, resulting in lower labor costs and consistent tape placement.The appliance industry may see expanding growth of clear packaging systems. This method of shrink or heat wrap eliminates the need for a corrugated box and provides retailers visibility of the product. “Studies have shown that this reduces the damage and customer returns related to damage,” says Webb. “Customers want an un-blemished product thus the outer packaging must be without damage. If the customer is able to see the product in the package, then they are more willing to overlook any damage to the package.”OEMs and packaging suppliers have numerous considerations when looking to change or improve packaging methods. As long as the product makes its way to consumers’ homes unharmed the packaging method is a success.
- Want to see a video of EPS being molded?
- How about some interesting environmental information?
Theres more to come in the next few weeks, so check back in...
For Foam Fabricators employees, the emergency contact list has been updated (thanks Dan L.) which you can access through the intranet
Detroit Auto Show, January 2006
Foam Fabricators signs deal with JMA... a leading automotive sales and engineering firm based in Detroit. This move marks the transition of a passive sales/marketing stance by Foam Fabricators to an active one (in the automotive industry). Foam Fabricators has been molding componentry, automotive and otherwise, for years. This has lead to a broad based capability that can be leveraged by JMA into what the company calls a “rational growth plan” i.e., meeting the growth needs of the automotive market, not cannibalizing the existing base.
JMA has a fine reputation in this market sector – they’re committed to solving problems and run a “solutions” based business. This coupled with Foam Fabricators manufacturing plant network (spanning most of N. America) and 50 years of material-neutral custom molding experience should make for a dynamic team!
Foam Fabricators co-molded "light weight" pallet
Airdex pallets !
JSP (one of our raw material suppliers) offers a moldable porous EPP (P-EPP). This material has unique sound managing capabilities...
Yep, that, Mother Earth News... To find our why just follow this link recycling and source reduction
March 2006 -
Foam Fabricators of Scottsdale, AZ and Petro Pac de Chihuahua, MX have merged assets in Chihuahua, MX, to open a new molded foam plant. In addition to the new plant, Foam Fabricators will be taking a more active role in support of Petro Pac's other plant on Juarez, MX.
Petro Pac has a fine reputation in the Juarez region. This combined with Foam Fabricators North American resources will mark the beginning of a repositioning in that market too.
The new plant will be accepting orders in April of 2006. Click here for contact information
Career Opportunities !!!
We need three more team members! Go to ... jobs to find out about them.