Demonstrating an industry-wide commitment to recycling, sustainability and the many potential lives for plastics products, the new Zero Waste Zone, in the South Hall, will feature more than 45 exhibitors focused on the future in the Recycling and Sustainability Pavilions.
Companies including Coca-Cola, Dart, Dell, Green Toys, Hilex Poly, Pepsi, Seventh Generation and Sony, as well as the American Chemistry Council, will showcase the latest trends and products made from post-consumer recycled plastic. At the Zero Waste Wall, show-goers can make a public commitment to zero-waste efforts by adding their business card to the wall (while being entered to win a motorcycle).
In an on-site recycling demonstration, Rapid Granulator Inc. will process PET products into reusable flake. Live demonstrations will run at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. daily.
“The Zero Waste Zone and the surrounding Recycling and Sustainability Pavilions will provide attendees with concentrated access to companies and technologies that have made it their business to address these themes and develop workable solutions,” said Gene Sanders, SPI's senior vice president of trade shows and conferences.
Kicking things off for the zero-waste effort will be the Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show in the morning on March 23 in the West Hall. As part of the NPE 2015 opening ceremonies, Savannah College of Art and Design students are designing and creating garments from recycled, reused, or repurposed plastics.
The party will continue in the Zero Waste Zone's beer garden (with the “same mission ... zero wasted,” cracks an NPE news release), serving up suds to the environmentally minded from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For earlier risers, the beer garden will host coffee service from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. featuring compostable products, sponsored by BASF. The beer garden will also host special events daily, according to SPI.
A shuttle will run a loop from the West Hall to Zero Waste Zone throughout the show.
From Amazon and Apple to Disney and Mattel, taking a company literally from the garage to the Fortune 500 has happened too many times for it to be merely myth. So don't be surprised if the first place you hear about the next billion-dollar idea in plastics at the Startup Garage at this year's NPE.
More than a dozen fledgling companies will highlight innovations in bioplastics, recycling, 3-D printing, polymerization, resin processing and antimicrobial polymer development in Orlando. Originally intended to be a small, juried special exhibit, NPE's Startup Garage attracted so much attention from potential exhibitors organizers had to expand it.
“The response to our call for applicants has been met with an enthusiastic response by new companies doing exciting things at the forefront of polymer technology,” said Brad Williams, SPI's director of trade show sales and marketing, in a news release. “While some of these startups propose new ways to address pressing issues involving renewable resources and waste reduction, others offer enhancements of plastics manufacture and product performance. The quality of the exhibitors so far has led us to extend the call for more.”
With the help of Startup.Directory, the new-venture tracking arm of Washington-based InnovaTech Ventures that offers competitive analysis and market intelligence to bring start-up companies together with venture capital and angel investors, NPE's Startup Garage will offer prominent exhibition space to innovative plastics companies just getting off the ground.
The featured startups come from every point in the plastics supply chain: Ohio-based Biobent Polymers, will feature its licensable bio-composite polypropylene and polyethylene resins made from up to 40 percent soy meal. Plastic EQ Corp.,based in Montreal, is an Internet marketplace bringing together recycled plastics suppliers and buyers — and handling all the paperwork. And FormLabs Inc., a Somerville, Mass.-based startup, is already innovating in the still-developing 3-D printer market with a high-resolution desktop-sized printer that uses stereolithography to build objects from liquid plastics using lasers rather than the more common fused filament fabrication method.
Sure, everyone wants to see the latest technology and toys at a trade show, but it's the designers who make sure that stuff looks good. And this year, designers have their own pavilion at NPE.
The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and SPI banded together for NPE 2015 to create the show's first IDSA Design Pavilion. Located in the South Hall, the Design Pavilion will feature booths from design firms, processors, software developers and other companies providing design services to the plastics industry.
“IDSA's presence at NPE 2015 will sharpen the focus on the role of design in advancing the practical value of plastics, their consumer appeal and their contribution to sustainability,” SPI's Sanders said.
The pavilion also will include a display featuring the winners of IDSA's 2014 International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) competition. SPI will present an award and scholarship to the competition's outstanding student winner.
“IDSA is delighted to be partnering with SPI on NPE 2015, the premier conference for the plastics industry,” said Daniel Martinage, executive director of IDSA, in a news release. “Connecting designers with professionals in related fields continues to be a priority for IDSA, and our partnership with SPI is an excellent step towards furthering this initiative.”
Easily one of the most talked about newcomers to the plastics industry in recent years is 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, and it's making its NPE debut in a big way. For the first time, 3-D printing will be featured on its own at the triennial trade show.
NPE3D will feature more than 15 exhibitors from around the world, including reps from 3M's Advanced Materials Division; Chinese rapid prototype and tool maker Guangzhou Seal Mould Co. Ltd.; engineering services firm Geometric Ltd. out of Mumbai, India; and Carlsbad, Calif.-based prototype tooling and custom short run specialist Forecast 3D. Minneapolis-based 3-D printing specialist Stratasys Ltd. will demo its new Objet 500 Connex1 multi-material 3-D printer, which can produce parts from three materials in a single run.
Organizers said they had to expand the space for NPE3D significantly late last year after a huge response for the first-time event. More booth space was added to accommodate interested exhibitors and the event is even sporting its own dedicated Twitter hashtag, #NPE3D.
NPE3D will also have a dedicated half-day conference track, focused on emerging trends and technologies, short-run injection molding and low-volume production strategy, as part of SPI's Business of Plastics Conference. The show-within-a-show even features its own happy hour for NPE3D devotees or anyone just 3-D-curious from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on March 24.
After the inaugural NPE3D, held March 23-27, the exhibition will be held every year in a different location, collocating with NPE every third year, according to SPI.