SPE Foundation Debuts Sustainable Packaging Patch for Girl Scouts

The new Girl Scout Gold Award SPE Foundation Grant is now available for eligible Girl Scouts who wish to make a positive impact on community recycling, sustainability, or diversity in STEM, helping fund Girl Scout troops interested in participating.

The hands-on curriculum behind the patch is intended to change the perception of packaging, teach basic recycling, promote packaging degree programs, teach girls to create a personal sustainability plan, and to make a career in packaging seem “cool” by exposing participants to people (especially women) that exemplify cool packaging careers.
The hands-on curriculum behind the patch is intended to change the perception of packaging, teach basic recycling, promote packaging degree programs, teach girls to create a personal sustainability plan, and to make a career in packaging seem “cool” by exposing participants to people (especially women) that exemplify cool packaging careers.

The SPE Foundation, convened by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), aims to support the development of plastics professionals by funding inclusive educational programs, grants, and scholarships emphasizing science, engineering, sustainability, and manufacturing. In a new project that harmonizes these goals, the Foundation is engaging with Girl Scout Councils around the country to introduce girls to opportunities in plastics engineering through STEM patches related to polymer science, packaging, and sustainability.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Society of Plastics Engineers on our Sustainable Packaging Patch. Their support has been instrumental in shedding new light on the significance of plastics in our ecosystem,” says Nasaile Peterson, program coordinator, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. “The hands-on curriculum not only educates Girl Scouts on the crucial aspects of plastic disposal and its chemical properties but also delves into how nature shapes product design. We're equipping our young leaders to champion sustainable practices and make the world a better place.”

To fund Girl Scout troops interested in participating, the new SPE Grant to support Girl Scouts working toward their Gold Award is now available for eligible Girl Scouts who wish to make a positive impact on community recycling, promoting sustainability, or addressing diversity issues in STEM.

Through SPE’s partnership with the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) and the material agnostic Sustainable Packaging Patch, the SPE says that it not only dives into what it describes as “Positive Plastics Education,” but also cover topics to help girls understand why packaging is necessary in the first place. 

“We talk about materials generally used for packaging—plastic, glass, metal, paper, and biopolymers—and the pros and cons for each. We hope to spark an interest The SPE Foundation is engaging with local Girl Scouts of the USA councils around the country to introduce girls to opportunities in plastics engineering through STEM patches related to polymer science, packaging, and sustainability.The SPE Foundation is engaging with local Girl Scouts of the USA councils around the country to introduce girls to opportunities in plastics engineering through STEM patches related to polymer science, packaging, and sustainability.in girls so they’ll join the packaging industry one day to innovate solutions to our most pressing challenges. We’re looking to engage youth who care about our environment and empowering them as future scientists and engineers,” says Eve Vitale, manufacturing engineer and SPE Foundation chief executive.

The hands-on curriculum behind the patch is intended to change the perception of packaging, teach basic recycling, promote packaging degree programs, teach girls to create a personal sustainability plan, and to make a career in packaging seem “cool” by exposing Girl Scouts to people (especially women) that exemplify cool packaging careers.

Topic titles in this program include: Know Your Packaging (scavenger hunt); Packaging System Levels; Linear vs. Circular Economy; Bioplastics; Compostable Packaging; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover (activities); Waste Hierarchy; Recycling Works! and How to Recycle; Sustainable Labeling; Sustainable Packaging Design; and Packaging Careers and College Degree Programs.

“While SPE and their foundation’s mission is focused on the development of Plastics Professionals and promoting the positive impact that plastic packaging can have on the environment, it was important to ensure that the curriculum be material agnostic.  Partnering with the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) allowed the program to provide unbiased assessments of a variety of materials and their impact on the environment,” adds Jane Chase,  executive director of IoPP.

Project locations for 2024 include northeast Texas, greater Chicago and northwest Indiana, and Greater Tampa. Target beneficiaries are Girl Scouts in grades K-12 who are trying to earn STEM-related patches. The activities required for the patch consider the grade level of each Girl Scout, from Daisies in kindergarten and first grade, up to Ambassadors as juniors and seniors in high school.Project locations for 2024 include northeast Texas, greater Chicago and northwest Indiana, and Greater Tampa. Target beneficiaries are Girl Scouts in grades K-12 who are trying to earn STEM-related patches.Project locations for 2024 include northeast Texas, greater Chicago and northwest Indiana, and Greater Tampa. Target beneficiaries are Girl Scouts in grades K-12 who are trying to earn STEM-related patches.

“If you or your organization are interested in participating, there are several routes toward program sponsorship. There are also volunteer opportunities,” says Vitale. “The Foundation plans to host events serving 100 to 200 girls at a time as they earn their patches, and volunteers would be welcome at these events. There is also the opportunity of reaching out to local girl scout troops and bringing the program to them. We would look for volunteers to discuss their careers as they relate to packaging and the innovations being made for a more sustainable world.”

Similar to merit badges, patch programs provide Girl Scouts another way to enjoy a variety of activities while earning recognition for having completed them. Patches cover a broader range of achievements and experiences than do merit badges, and while merit badges are created internally by the Girl Scouts of the USA, patches are often created and administered by external or partner organizations—SPE in this case. 

Organizations like PMMI are already on board as sponsors. Visit www.spefoundation.org to learn more about sponsorship or volunteerism.

“We are thrilled to be a gold sponsor of the Sustainable Packaging Patch, support delivering ‘Positive Plastics Education,’ and engage youth who care about our environment, empowering them as future scientists and engineers to shape the packaging industry,” says Kate Fiorianti director, Workforce Development, of PMMI’s sponsorship. “We look forward to engaging with the troops by touring local PMMI member facilities and their participation in PACK EXPO. These activities showcase innovative approaches to sustainable packaging and inspire the next generation of industry leaders. We are committed to supporting their exploration of environmental stewardship and technological advancement.”

The SPE Foundation aims for 2,000 Girl Scouts to undertake the patch program in 2024. PW

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