Thursday, July 06, 2006
Honor Among Soft-Drink Rivals, if not Thieves
Three (very former) Coca-Cola, Co. employees snuck out of the office carrying trade secrets, including samples of a new drink and formulas for a few other drinks. They offered the secrets to PepsiCo, who promptly turned around and handed the turncoats to Coke and the FBI. Undercover agents offered the soft-drink swindlers $1.5 million in exchange for the confidential secrets (note that the “secret recipe” for regular Coke was not stolen). The perpetrators opened up a bank account in anticipation of the payday, which allowed the Feds to make their arrests.
Said CEO Neville Isdell:
"Sadly, today's arrests include an individual within our company. While this breach of trust is difficult for all of us to accept, it underscores the responsibility we each have to be vigilant in protecting our trade secrets. Information is the lifeblood of the company."
Information? We thought it was high-fructose corn syrup, or maybe caffiene. Mmmm. Delicious buzz.
“Small” is in the Eye of the Contract Holder
While it’s never a surprise that a) loopholes exist in bureaucracies and that b) these loopholes are exploited, it’s still stunning to read about how these things play out in reality. Last year, the Small Business Administration awarded $4.9 billion dollars in small-business set-aside contracts to “small businesses” like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics. The New York Times has the story here.
OK, But What Would It Smell Like?
We’ve heard of biodiesel made with the leftover fat from deep fryers—greasel, some people call it, and if you run your VW or whatever with it, your car smells like French fries—but IndustryWeek has a new one for us. They report that the Vietnamese are going to make diesel from catfish fat.
While the area in and around
It’s Still Growing
…just slower than it had been. The June Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report for the
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
There’s Cheaper Gold In Them Thar Hills
Over at the supplyexcellence.com blog, writer Tim Minahan is musing about PC recycling. In the wake of Hewlett-Packard’s success with its computer equipment recycling program, Dell (and to a smaller extent, Apple) has recently announced it’s going to get on the HP bandwagon by offering free shipping to encourage consumers to send back their old bits-and-pieces. Minahan points out that, in addition to applying a fresh coat of green paint to their company images (and probably a having genuine desire to become more sustainable as well as profitable), these computer giants may be driven by a simpler motive: the skyrocketing costs of precious metals.
It’s true: things have come to such a pass in the metals commodity market that it’s more cost-effective for some manufacturers (mainly those who make electronic consumer products) to reclaim metals from old products than it is to buy new supplies of the stuff. A May article from the New York Times, “Panning E-Waste For Gold”, looks at the recycling process and notes that, ton for ton, you can get more metal from waste products than from a mine (8-10 ounces from everyone’s old printer cartridges and iPods vs. 6 ounces from a mine). And the recycling process is much greener than the typical mining process, which requires soaking extracted materials in chemicals such as cyanide to leach out the ore. Expect to see prospectors in your local landfill soon.
Another motivation behind the uptick in recycling programs could be strict new environmental regulations, like the EU’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive (which went into effect on Saturday). The new regulation comes on the back of a required electronics recycling program already in place within the EU. So it’s possible that, having tested the recycling programs out in the smaller EU market, Dell and other manufacturers see the sense in rolling them out to other markets (Dell’s is, at present, the only global program; you can see the pdf of the policy here).
Regardless of the motivation behind these recycling programs, we’re pleased that an industry whose products (by dint of their complex materials and “planned obsolescence”) have such potential to impact the environment is shifting to more sustainable practices. We hope that if, in the future, metals prices drop or regulations become more lenient, that the recycling programs don’t dry up as well.
If you’ve got a home machine you plan to upgrade, or if your business has machines that are out-of-date, here’s a list of major manufacturers with US recycling programs (and the products they’ll accept). There are also donation programs sponsored by both government organizations and private NPOs, if your computer equipment is still usable, and those are listed here at TechSoup. Barring that, you could always take a page from these Mac lovers, and turn your old monitors into aquariums.
Possible Bug In Flu Vaccine System
The FDA has issued a stern warning to pharma giant Sanofi-Aventis after it determined that some of its flu vaccine concentrate failed sterility tests. The concentrate was produced at the company’s
Independence Day (Better late than never)
Happy Fifth! We hope everyone had a fantastic 4th and were able to rekindle the spirit of ’76 by browsing US History.org’s excellent overview of the Declaration of Independence—you could even re-read the D of I, since you probably haven’t since the fifth grade. While you’re holding those self-evident truths, you could also read about recent immigrants in
Or you could read about fun stuff: here’s the chemistry behind fireworks, and an explanation of how they’re made. And from Logistics Today, we have an overview of how your hotdog got from the feedlot to your barbecue via miracles of the supply chain. Welcome back to work!