ORLANDO, FLA. (April 3, 8:45 p.m. ET) — Maine Plastics Inc. projects that it will recycle in excess of 350,000 pounds of plastics at NPE2012 in Orlando — or almost three times as much as the 125,000 pounds it recycled at NPE2009 in Chicago.
“We have 55 exhibitors running materials through their machines,” said Robert Render, CEO of Maine's environmental and consulting business, A Greener Solution LCC, and vice president and past president of Zion, Ill.-based Maine Plastics.
The company has been the official recycler for five consecutive NPE shows.
The volume of plastic scrap being recycled is even more impressive, he said, when you take into account that three years ago NPE was a five-day show and 75 exhibitors were running material and participating in the program.
“The number of participating exhibitors in the program is lower, but they are running more machines and creating more scrap,” said Render, who believes that the exhibitors are “running full blast” with their machines because NPE is a four-day show instead of five.
The majority of the recycling activity, he said, is in the West Hall where Maine has its recycling operations set up in the docking area outside. At NPE2009, Maine recycled 95 percent of the potential recoverable materials. This year the target is to equal or surpass that same percentage.
Maine supplies exhibitors with two different size bags, two different containers or gaylords to use to collect the scrap or products they make at the show.
Render said most exhibitors use either the 75 two-wheeled 96-gallon blue bins supplied by Orlando, Fla.-based Rehrig Pacific Co., or the 20 MACX48 bins supplied by Decade Products, part of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Cascade Engineering Inc.
Some companies supply their own bins, Render said. And unlike other years when gaylords were popular, he said only three gaylords are in use at NPE 2012 for recycling.
Moving the bins back-and-forth from the show floor to the loading docks is smoother at NPE2012 since exhibitors have “more flexibility” in how to move them from their booth to the dock than they did at previous NPEs, he said.
The majority of the plastics recycled are “the commodity resins—polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene and PET,” Render said.
To facilitate sorting at the dock, Maine, as it did at previous NPEs, created a sample part board of all the parts run by the participating exhibitors. It uses a coding system so that each truckload that leaves the dock is a singular resin.
Maine is using a local trucker, who further consolidates the material into trailer loads of single resins that are shipped to the Maine recycling plant in Apex, N.C.
“There is a lot of stuff going on, and this is a new venue,” Render said. “But all of us [Maine, the Orange County Convention Center and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., which puts on the triennial show] have been thoroughly prepared. We did extensive preparation ahead of time.”
In addition, to make sure the recycling works smoothly during the show, Render said the three groups meet every day to discuss “the issues that come up.”
The staff of the OCCC—which is hosting its first NPE—has been “very cooperative,” added Render. One example, they provided separate compactors in the dock area for cardboard and for plastics. At McCormick Place in Chicago, there was a single compactor.
“The culture of the venue has helped with the recycled process,” said Render. “We are recycling more stuff.”
OCCC is responsible for recycling other plastics materials such as the film from carpets that are laid down for the show, and beverage and water bottles and other plastics tossed into waste and recycling bins at the show. The material is taken to a materials recovery facility where it is sorted into separate streams for recycling.
In 2011, the OCCC recycled 71 percent of the dry waste generated at all the shows at the convention center. “When we initially met with them to discuss our recycling at the show, they had data on every individual show,” Render said.
“The recycling at the show is going well and it will meet the objectives” of SPI, said Render.
“Bill Carteaux [the president and CEO of SPI] recognizes that there is a lot of potential criticism of plastics from litter and wanted to put an emphasis on recycling,” said Render.
He speculates that the recycling ethic at the OCCC—along with lower projected costs for exhibitors and attendees— may have been one of the catalysts for the move of the show to Orlando.