For attendees at NPE 1997, plastics recycling is not available.
In 1991, recycling commanded a spotlight at NPE. Three years later, though not center stage, recycling was visible in the food areas and on the exhibition floors. This year, recycling bins will be in only a handful of exhibitors' booths, leaving recycling-conscious show-goers to fend for themselves.
However, Susie Harpham, president of SRH Co., which is handling collection at the show, thinks NPE 1997 will be ``the best to date'' in terms of efficiency and lack of contamination.
``This NPE will be very different [for plastics recycling] in two respects,'' she said.
First, unlike NPE '94, the firm will not collect food-service plastics at Chicago's McCormick Place. Harpham cited a large contamination problem as the reason her company decided not to collect plastics from the food areas.
Second, plastics recycling receptacles will be in less than 10 percent of the booths, and they will collect post-industrial, not post-consumer, plastics.
SRH, a Columbus, Ohio, environmental management company, conducted telephone interviews with exhibitors having 600 square feet or more of booth space. Exhibitors with booths measuring less than 600 square feet received mailings. The surveys determined how many companies would participate in recycling efforts.
Initial reaction has been very strong and positive, said Edward Segal, a spokesman for NPE and its organizer, Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
Plastic scrap will be collected by about 150 of the approximately 1,700 exhibitors. The participating exhibitors anticipate demonstrating equipment in their booths, creating excess scrap or samples. Segal expects to sign up additional booths prior to the start of the show. Participants will not be charged a fee.
``We received very detailed and accurate information,'' Harpham added. ``The exhibitors have been much more cooperative and anxious to help than in the past. The lack of contamination will mean more plastic into the recycling stream.''
Neenah, Wis.-based Menasha Corp. donated 2,000 corrugated, recycled-content cardboard containers to hold the scrap. When full, the 48-inch-by-48-inch-by-36-inch receptacles will be taken to a dock, then transported to Eaglebrook Plastics Inc. of Chicago.
Harpham expects to collect and recycle between 500,000 pounds and 700,000 pounds of plastic. Eaglebrook has agreed to accept and recycle high density polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polycarbonate and PET.
Six recycling monitors, two people in each building, will be available for troubleshooting, fielding exhibitors' questions, properly labeling materials and ensuring that nothing happens to them between the dock and the truck.