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Driving Sustainable Futures

30. November 2020

Operation Clean Sweep Promotes Environmental Stewardship

The prevention and limitation of pellet, flake, and powder loss is a priority in the plastics industry and a critical issue for our environment. Reportedly, each year roughly 100 million spilled pellets enter the environment, making their way into local waterways and eventually into estuaries and oceans. Not only is this a litter issue, but these pellets, flakes, and powders can harm birds or marine animals.

Operation Clean Sweep® (OCS), is a plastics industry association effort to reduce plastic pellets in the environment. The program helps companies and their facilities implement good housekeeping through pellet, flake, and powder containment practices and to work toward achieving zero pellet, flake, and powder loss — thereby protecting the environment and saving valuable resources.

Trinseo, as well as a number of other industry partners, has been an active member of OCS and has signed a “Pledge to Prevent Resin Pellet Loss”. The first step – which is truly ongoing -- is to conduct in-depth assessments of each facility’s level of implementation of the OCS program.

Pellet, flake and powder loss has many negative impacts on individual companies, on the plastics industry as a whole and on the environment.  According to ONS:

  • Slips and falls are a major cause of plastics industry accidents
  • Accidents mean lost work time, higher worker compensation costs and lower employee morale
  • Violations of storm water regulations in states like California can result in civil penalties and any person discharging unauthorized waste can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and a fine
  • Spilled pellets, flakes, and powder can eventually end up in waterways and the ocean. Whether they're handled in an Iowa plant or a seaside facility, this material can be transported to storm drains that lead to rivers and then to the ocean - resulting in litter and posting a threat to marine life

The organization states that when the industry handles pellets, flakes and powder as responsibility as possible:

  • Plastic pellets, flakes, and powder are kept out of the natural environment, including waterways and oceans
  • Companies enhance their reputations as good stewards of the environment – and increasingly important factor for attracting the investment community and high-quality employees: and more material stays a valuable product rather than becoming waste, improving efficiency

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