Plastics recycling, and recycled plastics, will be on display this week at NPE 2015 like no other time in history.
And it's all by design.
Plastics recycling and sustainability will be featured in their own separate pavilions this week and the first-ever Zero Waste Zone will be a highlight of the show, taking up 30,000 square feet of space just itself in the South Hall.
The rise in importance of plastics recycling comes as show sponsor, Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., places more emphasis on the topic in its day-to-day business.
Kim Holmes serves as senior director of recycling and diversion at SPI, where she has worked since early 2013. This is her first NPE as a SPI employee, but she has attended the show in the past.
At the last show, three years ago, there was a recycling pavilion, but not “a lot of visible public area recycling or messaging reminding people to recycle,” Holmes remembered.
The Orange County Convention Center did a great job with back-of-the-house recycling at that show, she said, but now it's time to showcase the efforts more on the floor.
“That's something we very much wanted to change this year, especially because we have the Zero Waste Zone and we're talking about all of the great potential of recycled plastics,” Holmes said. “We wanted to find a way to connect the behavior of attendees back to the Zero Waste Zone.”
Along with providing visible recycling containers on the show floor, SPI also is undertaking a variety of initiatives to showcase recycling and sustainability.
They include the Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show — featuring designs made from recycled, reused or repurposed plastics that was planned for March 23. Students from the Savannah College of Art and Design spent last semester making creations that incorporate plastics, and their efforts will be featured in the Zero Waste Zone all week.
SPI also has teamed up with Keep America Beautiful to utilize that group's “I Want to be Recycled” advertising campaign. The campaign will be featured on dozens of signs throughout the show to remind people about the importance of recycling their plastics.
The Zero Waste Zone, itself, is featuring separate sections that highlight processing and use of recycled plastics. There will even be a grinder that will operate three times a day in the zone.
Special recycling video messages also have been recorded by SPI to play at the show and in hotel rooms.
Holmes describes the efforts to really promote plastics recycling at NPE as a bit of a coming out party.
“This is really the first time that as a plastics industry, it's no longer just the prime plastics industry, it's the plastics industry, which also includes that recycling component,” she said.
And it's an effort, she said, that's being driven by SPI members themselves.
“I think it just took the right combination of members coming together at one time and saying we need to give this focus and we need to focus some resources on doing this. And the support we've gotten is tremendous,” Holmes said. “That's a reflection of how it's been elevated at NPE. All of the members are really thrilled about the direction it's going.”