Latest Transtar News
Jun 14, 2021
Photo courtesy of West Paw Testing the waters with ocean-bound plastics West Paw, a U.S. manufacturer of dog toys, beds, leashes, collars and treats, launched Seaflex as a line of pet toys that incorporates 12.5 percent ocean-bound plastics. Sustainability is something most companies strive for today, but for West Paw, a manufacturer of dog products based in Bozeman, Montana, being sustainable “has been part of its DNA” since it began operations in 1996. Today, the company focuses just on dog products but when it started, Spencer Williams, owner and CEO of West Paw, says the business sold products such as organic catnip. “We were ahead of our time, looking for the most sustainable materials,” Williams says. “At that time in Montana, you could hardly buy organic lettuce. Our sustainability and environmentally friendly credentials started then. We developed business practices to reduce environmental footprint and generally promote the environment and social stewardship that we think every company should uphold.” For instance, the company developed its Zogoflex material—a thermoplastic elastomer turned into dog toys—to be recyclable, bisphenol A-free, phthalate-free, nontoxic and compliant with the Food & Drug Administration in the early 2000s. The company also offers a recycling takeback program called Join the Loop for its Zogoflex products—consumers can either mail back Zogoflex products to be recycled, or they can take them to participating pet retailers' Zogoflex collection sites. These retailers will then mail the toys back to West Paw. To date, there are about 200 retailers across the U.S. participating in the program. The company offers a retail locator on its website to help customers find stores participating in the program. To recycle products through Join the Loop, West Paw reports that it inspects returned toys for damage to help it continue to improve the design of its toys; it sanitizes the toys; then it puts the toys into a grinding machine to turn into 1/8-inch plastic pieces that can be recycled. This month , the company takes its sustainability efforts a step further with the launch of Seaflex, a line of safe, nontoxic pet toys that include a blend of 12.5 percent recycled ocean-bound plastic and the company’s zero-waste Zogoflex material. Ocean-bound opportunities Williams says the idea to develop a dog product line that incorporates ocean-bound plastic came back to the company’s original vision to offer sustainable products. He says he wanted to come up with a solution to help solve the issues caused by plastic pollution. “We were looking both for what would be ultimately the safest, most durable product that could be the best for the planet,” Williams says. “Ocean-bound plastics seemed like an opportunity.” The ocean-bound plastics incorporated into Seaflex are recovered plastics from within 30 miles of a coastline, beach or waterway, he adds. Developing a line of dog products that incorporate ocean-bound plastics was challenging, though. Williams says West Paw had to ensure that the development of Seaflex was robust and safe. Through testing, the company determined 12.5 percent was the right ratio of ocean-bound plastics to be blended with Zogoflex into the product line. “Materials we want to harvest from ocean-bound areas have slightly different chemical properties than our Zogoflex . So, for making a custom plastic that will be really safe and durable as a toy or home goods product like a bowl, it is important to have a certain amount of rigidity as well as elasticity and durability,” Williams adds. “When testing different percentages, we found a sweet spot on durability and flexibility at around 12 percent. That was the right blend.” Another challenge in development was ensuring West Paw had a secure supply chain of ocean-bound plastics. To secure ocean-bound plastics for its Seaflex line, West Paw partnered with Los Angeles-based Oceanworks , a global marketplace for sustainable materials. “Oceanworks specializes in hard-to-access diverted plastic sources from around the world,” Williams says. “They supply our compounder of plastics with ocean-bound resins.” Rob Ianelli, founder and president of Oceanworks, says his firm provides a network of suppliers—mainly independent scrap processors—to brand owners looking for ocean-bound plastics. “We work with processors to identify the waste streams to authenticate our chain of custody and tracking capabilities and software to help get materials validated so they can be presented to a global buyer. We focus on working with suppliers that have a large capacity and precise machinery and strong business that has chain-of-custody documentation,” he says. Ianelli adds that Oceanworks also partners with Intertek to determine the quality of the material his suppliers are offering. Although Oceanworks sources material globally, Williams says that firm secures material that came from coastal parts of North and Central America for West Paw since it’s closer to West Paw’s facility in Montana. Ianelli says Oceanworks has partnered with hundreds of other brands since his company started in 2016. He says the Seaflex product developed by West Paw is innovative because of its durability in addition to recyclability and use of recycled content. “It’s an incredible innovation,” he says. “We give credit to West Paw for the vision and parameters for a successful rollout. West Paw was adamant that it was important for them and their customers to incorporate ocean-bound plastics in this product. That’s why they moved quickly, and their marketing of this has been excellent. They created a plastic product with a story—when West Paw presents [Seaflex] to consumers or retailers, it’s not just a dog toy with recycled ocean plastics; it’s a dog toy with measurable impact on the environment.” Williams says West Paw has plans to increase the use of its Seaflex product line into other categories in the future. The company also plans to keep expanding the number of retailers and stores that are part of Join the Loop. “We think it makes sense to take care for the environment with the products we buy,” he says. McCloskey International, an international equipment manufacturing company, has announced Dean Lownds as the company’s next senior sales director. Lownds will be responsible for the European, Middle East and East African region as well as the Asia Pacific region. According to a news release from the company, Lownds joins the McCloskey International team with more than 20 years invested in the heavy equipment industry. Previously, Lownds was a general manager for UK dealer sales at JCB , an equipment manufacturer based in England. His most recent roles have involved growth projects for Africa and supporting some of the largest independent equipment dealers across Europe. “Dean’s experience with the heavy equipment industry globally will allow him to easily integrate into and work with our dealer network to keep pace with the rising demand for McCloskey equipment,” says John O’Neill, vice president of sales and marketing for McCloskey International. “We look forward to continuing and building this momentum alongside contributing in a meaningful way to the business success of our partners and customers.” In his new role, Lownds will maintain relationships McCloskey has with its distribution partners. He will also identify and recruit prospective dealers. “It’s clear that the aggregates processing and recycling sectors present incredible growth opportunities for both independent dealers and customers during the coming years,” says Lownds. “McCloskey International as a brand has a superb reputation around the world for its quality, responsiveness and innovation. Combined with being a member of the Metso Outotec Group, this is a perfect time to realize the opportunity for all. I’m now part of a team that will take McCloskey and our partners to new heights, and the future is incredibly exciting.” Milwaukee to transform recycling program by increasing recycling collected The Recycling Partnership awards grant to deliver carts, transition to uniform recycling collection. The city of Milwaukee is transforming its curbside recycling program. Beginning in June, the city is transitioning to an every-other-week spring-through-fall citywide collection schedule. The winter collection schedule (December to March) will continue to be varied, which allows for snow operations. With the help of a $649,000 grant from national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership, which is based in Falls Church, Virginia, the city will deploy more than 18,600 new rolling, lidded recycling carts and fund education and outreach around the schedule change and recycling for good. According to a news release from The Recycling Partnership , wheeled carts roll easily to the collection point, provide more capacity for recyclables and reduce litter by protecting your recyclables from the elements. The Recycling Partnership reports that each residence within the bin-serviced area will have a cart delivered with educational materials enclosed. This change and moving to every-other-week collection spring through fall will greatly increase recycling capacity for residents. “Recycling makes sense in many ways. It reduces our landfill costs, generates some revenue and, most importantly, it’s a better choice for the environment,” says Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “I appreciate the opportunity to grow recycling in Milwaukee, and I thank the partners who have made that possible.” During a time of social distancing, where many nonessential employees are working remotely and commercial recycling is near an all-time low, producers see residential recycling programs as a critical supply chain for much-needed materials for the products being used and purchased every day. Each year city of Milwaukee residents recycle more than 50 million pounds of materials through the city’s curbside program. According to The Recycling Partnership, Milwaukee’s recycling transformation is expected to yield more than 10 million new pounds of recyclables each year, creating valuable and needed supply for local packaging producers and manufacturers. The city of Milwaukee was selected to receive grant support because of its dedication to advancing recycling throughout the community and for the over 180,000 households it serves. “Now more than ever, residents view recycling as an essential and valuable public service,” says Milwaukee Commissioner of Public Works Jeff Polenske. “I’d like to recognize the dedicated Sanitation workers who have been front and center in maintaining this critical service and who are an essential part of this program’s transformation.” The Recycling Partnership’s grant was supported in part by Dow, Rehrig Pacific and the PepsiCo Foundation. An additional resin donation from Dow assists the city of Milwaukee in ensuring that every household has what they need to fully participate in their recycling service. The 18,600 new carts, manufactured by Rehrig Pacific, were purchased at a 95 percent cost savings made possible by the resin donation. “The Recycling Partnership is honored to partner with the city of Milwaukee, with support from Dow, PepsiCo Foundation and Rehrig Pacific to continue our work to promote and transform curbside recycling nationwide,” Jill Martin, director of community programs at The Recycling Partnership, says. “The transformation of the city’s recycling program to a more standardized, sustainable program will help Milwaukee capture more quality recyclables that can then be transformed into new products and packaging, creating a more circular economy, a less wasteful planet, and healthier, stronger communities.” The city of Milwaukee asks that residents continue to do their part by placing only accepted materials in their carts, including glass bottles and jars; aluminum and steel cans; food and beverage cartons; paper products (including newspapers and flattened cardboard); Nos. 1, 2 and 5 plastic bottles and containers. Detroit-based General Motors Corp. (GM) says its assembly plants in the United States “that build GM’s most capacity-constrained products will not take any dedicated vacation downtime this summer.” GM cited the policy as among several it is taking to steps it is taking to increase deliveries to dealers and customers in the U.S. and Canada “to meet strong consumer demand for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles.” The supply of prompt ferrous scrap grades (and some nonferrous grades also) have been affected throughout 2021 by a lack of semiconductors and other components that have prevented assembly lines from operating at full capacity. GM announced in May that it will resume full-size pickup production at the Oshawa Assembly plant in Canada in the fourth quarter of 2021. “The new accelerated timeline and incremental volume are expected to make an impact in 2022, as production ramps up,” says the vehicle maker. “The global semiconductor shortage remains complex and very fluid, but the speed, agility and commitment of our team, including our dealers, has helped us find creative ways to satisfy customers,” says Phil Kienle, GM vice president of North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations. “Customer demand continues to be very strong, and GM’s engineering, supply chain and manufacturing teams have done a remarkable job maximizing production of high-demand and capacity-constrained vehicles.” Nonetheless, the company says, “Production at certain manufacturing facilities in North America, Asia and South America will continue to be impacted by the global semiconductor shortage through June and July.” Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp. says it has agreed to sell its Transtar LLC business unit, which consists of six freight rail lines operating in six different states. Transtar will be sold for $640 million to an affiliate of New York-based Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure Investors LLC (FTAI). The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, says U.S. Steel, subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals. U. S. Steel says the sale of Transtar will “align [its] operating focus on its core mining and steelmaking business” by “monetizing a non-core asset.” The sale includes a 15-year contract for subsequent owners to maintain the existing operations at the six operating railroads that make up Transtar, says U.S. Steel. Those six operating units are: the Gary Railway Company in Indiana; Lake Terminal Railroad Co. in Ohio; Union Railroad Co. LLC in Pennsylvania; Fairfield Southern Co. Inc. in Alabama; Delray Connecting Railroad Co. in Michigan; and the Texas & Northern Railroad Co. in the Lone Star state. “By selling Transtar to an experienced railroad operator, U. S. Steel can better focus on our broader ‘Best for All’ strategy,” says U. S. Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt. “In addition, the strong partnership we have created with FTAI will ensure continued support of our steelmaking facilities with predictable and cost-effective railroad operations.” Citi acted as U. S. Steel’s financial advisor on the transaction, while Jones Day and Baker & Miller PLLC acted as its legal advisors. FTAI, on its website , says it manages a portfolio that as of March 31, 2021, consists of $3.6 billion of transportation-related assets and total equity capital of $1.1 billion.