Thermoforming Report

April Thermoforming Report: The Elephant in the Room

by Keith Brown, President & Owner, Siena Group.

April 2024.

The topic today is a sensitive one. Given the audience, it will land positively but could easily be rebutted, depending on the individual: plastics and the environment. The article is short and is more of a collection of links than anything. Even so, I believe my sentiments align with most of you – there is far too much assuming and not enough thinking when it comes to plastics, recycling, and renewables! The skill of discernment seems to have gone missing – maybe it is hiding with the elephant?!? Have a great rest of your month!

As usual, we have several great articles relevant to our industry and quite a few amazing All Stars to highlight! Check them out down below in the links on the right. We also have more extraordinary talent in the Featured Talent tab.

The Elephant in the Room

As Earth Day approaches, we thought we’d do some digging to better understand what it was all about, how it relates to plastics, and how plastics impact our day-to-day lives. 

Well… we bit off a chunk of that elephant and clearly won’t do the topic justice in this short report! Even so, there is a ton of information out there and, at a minimum, we can at least work to aggregate some of what we’ve read into one location for your consumption. 

What’s Hiding Behind Curtain #1?

That would be the elephant.

He can’t be missed. Weighing in at a whopping 14,000 pounds, they are the largest of all land animals. But why is he hiding behind the curtain?!?

For all of us plastics professionals, we all know how positive plastics has, does, and will impact our lives. Yet, the hulking 7-ton animal is covered by a thin drape (which is probably made of polyester!). Why?

If I could answer that question simply, it wouldn’t be a global phenomenon!

The reasons are many, and they are complex. And I won’t get into them here. This article isn’t intended to be divisive, all-encompassing, or scientific. There are smarter people out there with more time and energy to devote to the topic. And, based on the simple search we took to explore and learn, they have!

The war of words on plastics, recycling, and similar is decades old. Yet, the plastics industry has just recently started to work to both refute the messaging and pull the curtain back to reveal the elephant – finally.

The Science

I said we were not going to get into this topic, and we won’t.  It is a complex problem that takes a lot of time, energy, and resources to work through and understand. 

However, I’m a manufacturing guy and a degreed Chemical Engineer who grew up as a Process Engineer in a few different plant environments. I even did an internship with Procter & Gamble at one of their pulp mills, which was highly enlightening. 

The amount of time, energy, chemicals, and resources to make paper is truly remarkable. That process has been honed over the years to make it efficient and cost effective. And though the final product is renewable, it is in no way ‘clean.’  All you have to do is make a trip to a paper mill town to understand why! 

My point? The obvious advantages of using polymers are somehow flatly dismissed – and demonized – due to a high level of ignorance and acceptance of filtered information about other products that are touted as better (renewable, cleaner, etc). I know I have a different perspective than most, but I struggle to comprehend how easily people believe the messaging that has been proliferated for years. No, I’m not being divisive… but am I entitled to an opinion.

I digress. Back to the science. 

There is a fairly recent blog post that is highly informative. Plastics & the Environment – Fact over Fiction, written by chemist/scientist Dr. Chris DeArmitt, is a great resource. Dr. DeArmitt invested a ton of time doing the research and aggregating a lot of information – so much so that he turned it into a digital book, The Plastics Paradox, and is offering it as a free download! The blog post (which includes a video) is essentially the cliff notes version of the book. 

There are also several other short articles about how plastics enhance our everyday lives, how plastics companies are working to incorporate more recycled and regrind materials, and even how indirect impacts positively impact the environment.   

Yes, these articles are generated by those in the plastics industry.  Yes, they are intended to sway the readers’ minds on how plastics aren’t what they are displayed in media and social media. 

Is it gratuitous? No. Who else is going to go to bat for the industry if not the industry itself? Various plastics industry professionals and organizations have produced a multitude of articles (like this one, this one, this one, and this onemany of which we’ve highlighted in past Thermoforming Reports) which highlight efforts to provide science-based responses to this extent. 

Unveiling the Elephant

No matter the selected theme of Earth Day, I believe there is consensus on this: taking care of the earth will take a combined global approach!

It must be founded in science and not rhetoric. It must be done in partnership with all industries, not just singling out one. We collectively have to address the realities and not assume anything.   

It isn’t plastics versus the planet. It is partnership with the planet.

As your Thermoforming Talent Partner, we represent clients AND candidates! We’re here to help in any and every way possible! We provide hiring strategies, priority candidate searches, job searches, client & candidate introductions, interview tips, résumé facelifts, resignation strategies, and much much more. LET’S STRENGTHEN YOUR SEARCH!

“The war of words on plastics, recycling, and similar is decades old. Yet, the plastics industry has just recently started to work to both refute the messaging and pull the curtain back to reveal the elephant – finally.” Keith Brown, Owner/President, Siena Group

  • Introducing Brentwood’s New Generation of Leadership. via Brentwood.
  • Nefab Gains More US Business through Plastiform Deal. via Plastics News.
  • Medical Plastics Market Projected to Soar by Double Digits. via Plastics Today.
  • Almost 2 Million US Manufacturing Jobs May Go Unfilled, Study Finds. via Plastics Today.
  • PP Prices Still on the Rise, but a Drop Remains in the Forecast. via Plastics News.
  • Prices for Recycled Resins May Rise Through 2024. via Plastics News.
  • Resin Price Report: PE Prices Hold Steady, PP Drops Another Two Cents. via Plastics Today.
  • Big Retirements on the Materials Side of the Industry. via Plastics News.
  • Are Your Posted Salary Ranges Too Broad? It Could Cost You Talent. via IndustryWeek.
  • Recycling Secrets of Sorting. via Plastics Today.
  • BLS Employment Report – March 2024. via MRINetwork.
  • Lessons from March Madness
    It’s easy to see how sports and competition parallel the professional world in many ways! This article reveals leadership tips beyond the buzzer, relating March Madness themes to the manufacturing floor for both candidates and clients as they work to create a winning team. via Siena Group.
  • 6 Common Leadership Styles – and How to Decide Which to Use When
    The most effective leaders learn to adapt their leadership style to different circumstances. This article decodes the tools to master the 6 common leadership styles, updated for today’s business landscape. via Forbes.
  • How to Address a Resumé Gap When Switching Careers
    The prospect of a new career can hold a sense of excitement. But what should you do if your job search creates a gap in your resumé that grows wider by the day? This article provides practical advice to help you successfully navigate this transition. via Harvard Business Review.
  • Job for Life? Not Anymore.
    Thanks to globalization, rapid technological advancements, and the changing ideas about the world of work, career paths are becoming fluid and multi-directional. This article addresses the shift from stable, long-term employment and single-employer careers to a world where frequent job changes are the norm. via The Conversation.

Senior Operations Leader: This talented Operations Leader with 25 years of experience brings a tremendous pedigree, working for a large multi-national company. He is a very strong proponent of creating and sustaining a culture of continuous improvement, with the results to back it up.

Sales Director: This talented Sales Leader brings 20 years of experience in food and food packaging, especially in the grocery and retail spaces. Currently leading a nationally-focused team with strong client relationships, he is a road hound and makes things happen!

Plant Technical Manager: This versatile Engineering & Maintenance Leader brings a great combination of highly technical skills and expertise, along with capital project accountability and a continuous improvement mindset.

Plant Manager: Southeast: This highly experienced Plant Manager, bringing nearly 20 years of thin-gauge thermoforming and plant oversight, loves to improve, has a history of delivering turnarounds, and enjoys building and growing teams.

Plant Manager/General Manager: This heavy-gauge Subject Matter Expert, with extensive knowledge and experience in plastics manufacturing processes and polymers, enjoys R&D and training & development. BONUS: He’s willing to relocate!

Even More Thermoforming Talent! We work with so many talented people in many different functions – all in thermoforming. Whether it’s an Operations Leader, Plant Manager, Supply Chain Leader, HR Leader, specialized Engineer, Quality Leader, Sales Leader, or pretty much any thermoforming role, we are here to help. If you have a need, please do not hesitate to just reach out! 

Click for more All-Stars.

At Siena Group, we are your Thermoforming Talent Partner. With more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, hiring & recruiting talent, we bring a greater understanding of the companies we partner with and the candidates we pursue.
Let’s Strengthen Your Search!

Share our post with others

Love what you see? Share it with your connections now.