WASHINGTON — By most accounts, NPE 2015 was a blockbuster.
The show — and the plastics industry — are back after some tough economic years, and show organizer, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., has released numbers backing up that claim. But now that the parties are over, the booths are broken down and it's back to business as usual for three years, how can plastics keep that NPE 2015 enthusiasm going? The industry's top associations hope to do so with a little more togetherness.
Final registration figures for NPE 2015 hit 65,810, up 19 percent from three years ago, according to Washington-based SPI. Some 26 percent of the registrants came from outside the United States, representing 130 countries, with nearly 5,000 from Latin America, SPI said.
SPI counts registrants rather than actual attendees at Orlando, Fla.'s, Orange County Convention Center March 23-17, making comparisons to previous shows difficult. The 2000 NPE show in Chicago holds the record for the most registrations — about 90,000. While observers don't believe that was an accurate measure of actual attendance, the trade show's 2000 iteration is remembered as one of the most successful NPEs on record. Through the 2015 show's run, NPE veterans proclaimed it unofficially on par with the 2000 show.
NPE 2015 did officially top the 2000 show with records for exhibit space and number of exhibitors. According to SPI, the OCCC had 2,029 exhibitors with more than 1.128 million net square feet of exhibit space — exceeding the previous records of 2,009 exhibitors and 1.041 million net square feet set in 2000 at Chicago's McCormick Place.
NPE2018 will be held May 7-11, 2018, at the OCCC in Orlando.
In the meantime, industry leaders are working behind the scenes to keep the NPE momentum going, pulling the plastics industry together to keep growing and improving plastics' public image.
It's a challenge because the plastics industry is not monolithic — as those in the business already know, points out Steve Russell, the American Chemistry Council's vice president of plastics.
“NPE is an amazing event once every three years, and it does give a chance for us to come together. But the purpose of NPE is not to strategize about the future. The purpose of NPE is the business of the plastics industry and to make the wheels work,” Russell said. “What's happening at the same time and every day in Washington and in the association headquarters is that we are, on a daily basis, working to advance our members interests in advocacy.”