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IPANA 2021 Annual Conference (co-located with RIPA) on October 19-21 at The Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile Hotel
Former ISDI (SSCI) Chairman Lester “Les” Trilla, Jr. Passes April 20
Former ISDI (SSCI) Chairman and advocate of the steel drum industry, Lester “Les” Trilla, Jr., passed away on April 20, 2021. Les was recognized as an honorary lifetime member of SSCI in 2008, the same year he retired as President & CEO of Trilla Steel Drum Corporation. He was the youngest board member of the Steel Shipping Container Institute and remained on its Board of Directors for more than 34 years. He also served as Chairman of the Steel Drum Council, a joint committee of new steel drum manufacturers and reconditioners. Les founded the International Confederation of Drum Manufacturers, which became the global voice of steel drum manufacturers around the world. For a full obituary, please click here.
Former ISDI Chairman Leonard H. “Len” Berenfield Passes May 13
Leonard H. “Len” Berenfield, a pillar of the steel drum industry passed away on May 13, 2021. Len served as Chairman of the Industrial Steel Drum Institute from 2005-2007 and was awarded an honorary lifetime ISDI membership in 2017. He received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1964. After a one-year stint at Westinghouse Electric/Bettis Atomic Laboratory, he left to help grow the family steel drum manufacturing business, which founded in 1914 as Berenfield Barrel Company, and later renamed Berenfield Containers, Inc.
Mauser Packaging Solutions Acquires Global Tank
Mauser Packaging Solutions, through its joint venture NCG-Maider, has acquired Global Tank, expanding its packaging portfolio and services in the Italian market. Global Tank operates a reconditioning and washing plant near Milan, handling plastics and steel drums and IBCs and recycling HDPE plastics. Alfonso Albanese and Carmela Cecere, the former owners of Global Tank, will join Mauser’s management team in Italy.
IPANA Members Launch PP, PE Recycling Investment Fund
Dow, NOVA Chemicals, and LyondellBasell will invest at least $25 million in plastics recycling infrastructure, with a longer-term goal of growing the initiative to $100 million. Closed Loop Partners on May 26 announced the launch of its Circular Plastics Fund and three IPANA member companies have initially invested $25 million in the fund, which will be used to invest in recycling technologies, equipment upgrades and infrastructure solutions. The fund will boost the supply of PE and PP scrap by investing in collection, logistics and sorting technologies and infrastructure; increase the availability of high-grade plastics by upgrading recycling systems; and boost the end use of recycled resins by investing in manufacturing facilities, according to Closed Loop Partners. The goal over the fund’s lifespan is to support the recycling of 500 million pounds of plastic by targeting post-consumer and post-industrial PE and PP in the U.S. and Canada.
PHMSA Increases Civil Penalty Amounts for 2021
In a Final Rule published May 3 in the Federal Register, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration increased the civil penalty amounts that may be imposed for violations of certain U.S. Department of Transportation regulations to adjust for 2021 inflation. The changes immediately took effect. Selected revisions to the penalties are as follows:
|Description||Citation||Previous Penalty||New Penalty|
|Maximum penalty for hazardous materials violation||49 U.S.C. 5123||$83,439||$84,425|
|Maximum penalty for hazardous materials violation that results in death, serious illness, or severe injury to any person or substantial destruction of property||49 U.S.C. 5123||$194,691||$196,992|
|Minimum penalty for hazardous materials training violations||49 U.S.C. 5123||$502||$508|
For detailed information on all revised civil penalty amounts for PHMSA, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, please click here.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Releases Vaccine Guidance
The EEOC in late May released guidance on mandatory vaccinations and federal discrimination laws. The guidance makes clear that employers may choose to require that employees who are physically present in the workplace be vaccinated for COVID-19, subject to the obligation to reasonably accommodate employees who have not been vaccinated because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance. On the same date, the EEOC also published an employee-facing resource page for job applicants and employees which likewise makes clear that employees “might be able to get an exception to [their] employer’s vaccination requirement,” but only if they “did not take a COVID-19 vaccine because of [a] disability or religious belief, practice, or observance.” The updated guidance also covers employer-provided vaccine incentives, confidentiality, and accommodating both unvaccinated workers and fully vaccinated workers at heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
EPA Announces Changes to Prevent Unsafe New PFAS from Entering the Market
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on April 27 announced important policy shifts in its review of new Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances before they can enter the market. Historically, some new PFAS have been allowed to enter the market through low volume exemptions. The EPA New Chemicals Program is now implementing a revised strategy for reviewing and managing LVE requests for PFAS. Due to the scientific complexities associated with assessing PFAS, and the hazard potential associated with various sub-classes of PFAS, it is challenging to conduct an appropriately robust review of LVE requests for PFAS in the 30 days the regulations allow. The regulations provide for the denial of LVE requests when EPA finds the chemical in question may cause serious human health effects or significant environmental effects, or when issues concerning toxicity or exposure require review that cannot be completed in 30 days.
Cal/OSHA Readopts Revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard
The California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board on June 3 convened and readopted Cal/OSHA’s revised COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. The revised ETS is expected to go into effect no later than June 15 if approved by the Office of Administrative Law; some provisions go into effect beginning July 31. The revised standards are the first update to Cal/OSHA’s temporary COVID-19 prevention requirements adopted in November 2020. The Standards Board also convened a representative subcommittee to work with Cal/OSHA on a proposal for further updates to the standard, as part of the emergency rulemaking process. To review the revised ETS, please click here.
OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard and Recordability
OSHA on May 3 formally moved its proposed COVID-19 emergency temporary standard to the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for final review. This move signals that OSHA has finished writing the ETS and the standard is in the final stages of review before it is issued. The standard has been noticed but the text is not public and may not be seen until the ETS is issued. The OIRA review is expected to be completed in June and once it is complete, OSHA will issue the rule which will become effective immediately.
OSHA Reverses Course on Recordability of Adverse Reactions from COVID-19 Vaccines
OSHA recently shifted its enforcement position with respect to the recordability of adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines. The agency published a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) in late May that explains employers do not need to record adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines on their OSHA 300 Logs, at least through May of 2022. The enforcement position applies regardless of whether an employer requires, recommends, or incentivizes employees to receive the vaccine. OSHA had previously stated in an FAQ that adverse reactions from COVID-19 vaccines required by an employer would be considered OSHA-recordable if they met all other recording criteria of the rule.
OSHA Schedules Informal Hearing on Hazard Communication Standard Updates
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a notice of informal hearing on the agency’s Hazard Communication Standard. The virtual WebEx hearing will begin Sept. 21, 2021, at 10 a.m. (EDT). Additional information on how to access the informal hearing will be posted on OSHA’s Proposed Rulemaking to Amend the Hazard Communication Standard webpage. Individuals interested in participating in the hearing must submit a notice of intent to appear at the hearing, along with any submissions and attachments, identified by Docket No. OSHA-2019-0001, electronically at http://www.regulations.gov. Submissions and requests to appear must be received by June 18, 2021. Read the Federal Register Notice for additional details.
USDOT Appoints Chief Science Officer for First Time in 40+ Years
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced April 21 that it is appointing a Chief Science Officer for the Department for the first time in over four decades. Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Dr. Robert C. Hampshire is currently acting in this role. In his new role as CSO, Dr. Hampshire is tasked with ensuring that USDOT’s research, development and technology programs are scientifically and technologically well-founded and conducted with integrity. The Department also announced it is reestablishing its Climate Change Center and restoring public access to climate-related reports, program information, and other scientific and technical information.
ISM: Manufacturing in U.S. Continues Uptick in May
U.S. manufacturing activity picked up in May as pent-up demand amid a reopening economy boosted orders, but unfinished work piled up because of shortages of raw materials and labor. The Institute for Supply Management survey released June 1 found companies and their suppliers “continue to struggle to meet increasing levels of demand,” noting that “record-long lead times, wide-scale shortages of critical basic materials, rising commodities prices and difficulties in transporting products are continuing to affect all segments” of manufacturing. The ISM’s index of national factory activity increased to a reading of 61.2 last month from 60.7 in April. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in manufacturing. Makers of fabricated metal products reported they did not expect the supply chain constraints to improve “until possibly the fourth quarter of 2021 or beyond.” Suppliers took much longer to deliver to manufacturers last month, with the supplier deliveries index jumping to 78.8. That was the highest reading since April 1974 and followed 75 in April. A reading above 50 suggests slower deliveries.
May U.S. Manufacturing PMI Rises to All-Time High; Sets New Record
According to the IHS Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index, manufacturing activity in the U.S. expanded at a record pace, for a data series dating to May 2007, with the preliminary headline index rising from 60.5 in April to 61.5 in May. The data were buoyed by growth in new orders (up from 61.7 to 65.3) and exports (up from 56.2 to 56.7), both of which expanded in May at the fastest paces on record, with output (up from 57.2 to 58.1) also strengthening for the month. Measures of employment (down from 55.7 to 53.3) and future output (down from 74.6 to 70.7) slowed in May but continued to be encouraging. Yet, raw material costs (up from 77.2 to 78.8) and output prices (up from 68.0 to 70.9) soared once again at all-time high rates, and respondents continued to cite severe supply chain disruptions.
Steel Demand Continues as Prices Increase
Steel prices continue to rise but demand has mostly persisted, with just 6% of respondents to a recent Steel Market Update poll noting lower demand. Most steel buyers are not expecting prices to level out anytime soon, as nearly 80% say they see no signs of an upcoming drop in price levels.
Resin Pricing Increases Again in May
According to Plastics News, North American prices for polypropylene and polystyrene resins skyrocketed again in May. Regional PP prices ended a two-month slide by surging upward 13 cents per pound, matching a similar increase in price for polymer-grade propylene feedstock. PP prices had fallen a total of 19.5 cents in March and April. PP makers had attempted to add 5 cents in margin improvement onto the 13-cent May hike but were unsuccessful, as the move wasn’t supported by all producers, market sources told Plastics News. Producers had gained 12 cents in margin in the March and April time period, as the 19.5-cent PP drop was less than the 31.5-cent drop seen by PGP. Prior to these moves, regional PP prices had soared 61 cents in the three-month December-February period because of tight supplies of resin and PGP.
Bottleneck at California Ports Hurts Manufacturers
The massive traffic jam at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which has dragged on since late 2020, is a huge problem for manufacturers in the U.S.—and one that is costing our economy many billions of dollars. Dozens of containerships wait in the harbor for days before being unloaded, while exporters are struggling to ship their goods out of the country, and other manufacturers are waiting months for parts or finished goods. At one point in mid-April, there were 23 ships waiting to dock at the ports, down from around 40 back in February. The normal number of ships waiting in harbor is somewhere between 0 and 1. Much of the congestion is due to the pandemic, with an uptick in e-commerce during the lockdowns, and an economic stimulus that has boosted consumption.
2.1 Million Manufacturing Jobs Could Go Unfilled by 2030
The manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, according to a new study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. The study’s findings come from online surveys of more than 800 U.S.-based manufacturing leaders, as well as interviews with executives across the industry and economic analyses. They paint a worrying picture of manufacturing’s labor shortage. The lack of skilled labor was the industry’s major challenge even before the pandemic, according to the NAM’s quarterly outlook surveys, and this new study shows it’s still a major concern today. Manufacturers surveyed reported that finding the right talent is now 36% harder than it was in 2018, even though the unemployment rate has nearly doubled the supply of available workers. Executives reported they cannot even fill higher paying entry-level production positions, let alone find and retain skilled workers for specialized roles. For a copy of the entire study, click here.