Plastics recycler sets up in St. Helens

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Articles - February 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010

A team of veterans from the recycling industry plans to break ground this month on a new plastics recycling facility in St. Helens to turn millions of tons of discarded plastic bottles into raw materials for re-use.

The new ORPET recycling plant is expected to employ 50 people as it launches and to grow in synch with the regional market for recycled plastic. The project is a collaboration between Dennis Denton of Denton Plastics, the largest plastics recycler in Oregon; Tom Leaptrott of Quantum Leap LLC, a supplier of packaging materials; and the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, which runs the state’s five-cent bottle deposit program.

The end product to be manufactured in St. Helens will be PET polyester flakes, widely used in construction and packaging materials as well as apparel. Some 6 billion pounds of this raw material are used each year nationally, according to Leaptrott.

“It’s an affordable, sustainable product,” says Leaptrott. “This type of recycling has been done for 25 years. It’s a proven process and it’s very clean.”

Local and state officials have praised the project on environmental as well as economic grounds. Recycling plastic bottles locally rather than shipping them to China to be recycled will reduce the burning of transportation fuel, while creating new employment in a community that recently lost hundreds of jobs at the local paper mill.

Leaptrott says the market for recycled plastics crashed during the recession but has recovered powerfully over the past few months. “We won’t have any trouble selling what we make,” he predicts.

BEN JACKLET
 

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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