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Kickstart: A global spotlight on plastics, sustainability

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A global spotlight on plastics, sustainability

World political and business leaders have gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, a global summit focused on climate change. The name stands for Conference of the Parties, referring to the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994. This is the 26th meeting, which is why it is called COP26.

The meeting continues until Nov. 12, so between COP and America Recycles Day on Nov. 15, you can expect a lot of discussions and news releases related to plastics.

Of course it doesn’t help plastics’ image when debris including bottles and other plastic materials created a “floating island” of rubbish on the River Clyde in Glasgow right outside a ferry converted into a gathering spot for young environmentalists.

Even before the speeches began, Mondelez International Inc., the maker of Oreo cookies and other snacks, announced Nov. 1 that it has set a “2050 target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its full value chain.”

That means supporting more sustainable business from the farms that make chocolate and wheat used in its products to packaging on store shelves. In a news release, Mondelez said it will design 100 percent of its packaging to be “recycle ready” by 2025, reduce overall virgin plastic use by 5 percent and cut the use of virgin plastics in rigid packaging by 25 percent by 2025.

Another sweet combination for Aztec and chocolate

As every food nerd and chocoholic knows, we can thank the Aztecs (and other indigenous people) for chocolate. So I found it perfectly appropriate to think of the combination when Micelli Chocolate Mold Co. announced it purchased Aztec Tooling & Injection Molding Co.

Granted, the Aztec that was acquired is a toolmaker and molder based in Edgewood, N.Y., and not a pre-Columbian empire in Central America, but Micelli is still very much involved in chocolate production, so that’s close enough for me.

Micelli, based in West Babylon, N.Y., makes molds used in commercial chocolate production, so it may have helped shape some of the Halloween candy you nabbed from your child’s trick-or-treat stash.

In buying Aztec, Micelli will gradually move production to the larger Edgewood facility and supply Aztec with “engineering resources, extended design and prototyping capabilities and increased capacity,” Plastics News’ Catherine Kavanaugh writes.

For itself, Micelli will have access to more commercial and industrial tooling and molding capabilities to further support its custom chocolate and confections molding business.

A STEM contest for middle school students

Minnesota Rubber & Plastics has launched its first contest for budding engineers and scientists with the Young Innovators contest, open to students in sixth through eighth grade interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Students are being asked to “submit their creative solutions to help solve problems that are important to all of us — including environmental sustainability, water quality, transportation efficiency and health care,” the Minnesota-based molder, officially called Quadion LLC, said.

“Today’s middle school students are the next generation of engineers, scientists, analysts and innovators,” said Karthik Viswanathan, vice president, product development at Minnesota Rubber & Plastics. “There are no limits to the innovation and creativity right here in our own communities and we want to help foster the curiosity of middle school students in the tri-state area through the Young Innovators contest.”

The contest is open for individual students or teams of up to eight students within 150 miles of the Plymouth, Minn., headquarters.

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