As professionals in plastics manufacturing, it is incumbent upon us to lead the industry in developing strategies that drive innovation, particularly when faced with an issue like recycling that affects the entire supply chain. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures suggest that only 9 percent of plastic was recycled from the municipal solid waste stream in 2012 (latest figures available). SPI thinks it's time to create strategies that will help drive demand for recycled materials, thus we've launched the Re|focus Recycling Summit & Expo.
The potential to grow the use of recycled plastics in manufacturing is enormous. The U.S. plastics industry is the 3rd largest manufacturing industry in the U.S., producing nearly $400 billion in products. Frankly, it is impossible to look at those numbers and fail to see the potential to drive demand and create new opportunities for the recycling industry. Reducing supply chain obstacles and eliminating manufacturing barriers so we can make that happen in a meaningful way is the goal of Re|focus, slated for April 2016 in Orlando, Fla.
We've discussed this topic with many of you, and we think we agree that Re|focus fulfills an unmet niche in the recycling conference market. SPI plans to join brand owners and processors, as well as others who have never engaged in the recycling conversation for discussions that emphasize solutions. The event will challenge attendees to “refocus” on product design and manufacturing with an eye toward recycled content, design for recycling and driving sustainability in manufacturing. Creating a stronger market pull for recycled content will directly benefit recyclers and municipal collection efforts.
Industry leaders who look closely at what we have planned will see that SPI has conceived a fresh, new approach to addressing sustainability issues. With the recycling rate having been essentially stagnant for the past 10 years, doing more of the same will only produce the same results. It's time for a new approach, new conversations and new tools for the industry. It's time for Re|focus. We will no longer wait for the plastics industry to join the recycling industry's conversation; instead we will take the conversation to them. It is also important to note that all funds generated from the Re|focus Summit & Expo will be reinvested into the industry's recovery and sustainability efforts.
If you have questions about this event, contact us. Re|focus is an exciting, innovative approach to one our industry's most critical issues. To learn more, please visit www.refocussummit.org.
William R. Carteaux
SPI President and CEO
SPI Senior Director of Recycling and Diversions