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Volume: 40
Issue: 5
Article No.: 5757

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Plastics Grand Challenge
I would like to share some insight from the keynote speech given by Dr. Brian Landes, The Dow Chemical Company and SPE President, at the recent SPE Thermoforming Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dr. Landes’ presentation was entitled “Forming the Sustainable Future for Plastics and SPE.” The premise is this “The plastics industry has a rich legacy delivering innovative materials and products that can be scaled, manufactured, and distributed for the benefit of society. These innovations have provided clean water as well as preserve the quality and quantity of food needed to feed billions. They have promoted reliable infrastructure, propelled fuel-efficient transportation and revolutionize medicine. Sadly, however, used plastics have found their way into a place that they were never designed to be – our environment.”

“The conversation has changed. Expectations have changed. We must change. Above all else, our industry is being called to innovate to address global plastics waste. This will require a new wave of innovation and heightened emphasis on sustainability beyond industry boundaries. As plastics professionals, how can we as individuals - and as a society - be effective influencers and trustworthy collaborators for positive change?”1

Landes said, “We have a grand challenge and innovation will create the solutions.

  • Consumers are looking for leadership
  • Governments want action
  • Industry is seeking forums and partnerships
  • Academia wants connection”

“SPE and the plastics industry can be connectors through:

  • Organized forums for communication
  • Events for sharing expertise for innovation
  • Shared commitment to plastics initiatives and benefits
  • Informed local and global communities willing to mobilize for the cause
  • Invite diverse perspectives for breakthroughs.”

“We can innovate for our industry and our communities by:

  • Bringing together unconventional fields of study from social work and business to the sciences and arts to address real-world challenges.
  • Inter-organizational collaboration to transform the way research is conducted.
  • Higher education that combines sustainability, technology and innovation with exposure to cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, data sciences and research-based teaching and learning.
  • Programs designed to develop robust, applicable educational experiences for high school teachers and students.”2

If you are wondering where to begin, contact the SPE or the Alliance to End Plastic Waste ( Together, we can make a difference for our industry and our planet.

Looking ahead, our 2020 editorial calendar has been announced. Our goal is to provide you with the news, new products and information you need to stay current and competitive in our global economy.

To can find additional resources for your company search our website’s extensive article archive. You can also contact our advertisers and manage your subscription through our on-line eReader Service.

Enjoy the issue,

David Whelan

November/December 2019

  • Signs & P.O.P.
  • Welding

Ad/Edit Close: 10/18/19
Material Close: 10/25/19

1. Excerpt from SPE Thermoforming Conference Program 2019.
2. Excerpts from Landes PowerPoint presentation

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