Transportation costs and environmental impacts were dramatically cut at NPE2018 when it comes to recycling plastics from the show floor.
The exact, final numbers are not quite in yet regarding total recycled tonnage, but the folks at Commercial Plastics Recycling Inc. are pretty happy about their efforts at the recent trade show in Orlando, Fla.
The Tampa, Fla.-based company, for the second time, oversaw collecting and recycling plastic products and scrap from the show floor.
That material eventually made its way back to CPR's reprocessing facility, about 60 miles away in Tampa.
"We definitely were more efficient in terms of what we were sending back here," said Paul Benvenuti of CPR in a May 24 interview. "We actually cut back the trucks by 40 percent from what we sent overall in 2015."
That was the first time CPR landed the recycling contract for NPE. The company made some changes for the 2018 show.
A major change was a partnership with machinery maker Weima America Inc. to utilize both a shredder and a grinder in a convention center parking lot. Grinding much of the output from exhibitors allowed CPR to drastically cut down on the amount of air it was moving from Orlando to Tampa.
"We went from roughly 40 trucks of scrap moved in 2015 to 25 in 2018," Benvenuti said. "We definitely exceeded our goals in terms of reduction, and [it] certainly was above our goal for the carbon footprint we were looking to reduce.
"We think it was a really positive recycling effort at the show," he added.
Benvenuti estimated that 380,000-400,000 pounds of plastics were recovered from the show exhibits, a similar amount to what was collected in 2015. CPR is still awaiting some final numbers from Waste Connections Inc., the solid waste management and recycling company that handled a segment of the recycling stream coming from the convention center.
Waste Connections has a contract with the convention center for recycled materials generated by attendees, such as empty bottles. CPR has the contract for exhibitor-generated materials. The two companies, Benvenuti explained, worked more closely together at this year's show to coordinate efforts to avoid duplicating work.
Going into the show, Benvenuti held out the possibility that this year's version might end up producing more scrap for his company to handle compared with three years ago. But in the end, he figured it has been about the same.
And that, he believes, is due in part to the quality of giveaways that people were taking home.
"I think one of the biggest things I saw in my building, we saw a lot of materials people were taking. The NPE swag was probably up. There were probably a little more souvenirs being taken than in '15," he said.
Stepstools, buckets, cups, tennis rackets and sport bottles were just a few of the items he remembered seeing in people's hands.
Benvenuti oversaw the West Hall at the convention center while his colleague at CPR, Rick Love, handled duties in the South Hall for the company. This allowed each man to concentrate on a specific area instead of trying to be in two places at once.
Love said the amount of recycled material coming out of the South Hall definitely increased in 2018 due to the location of the Bottle Zone there. The Plastics Industry Association, which owns and stages NPE, decided to create a dedicated space for companies serving the bottle industry.
Having this concentration in the South Hall, Love said, pushed the number of products being made on the show floor higher in that hall.
"In the South [Hall], we went very smooth. We had a couple back-of-the-house issues when they swapped out trailers, but nothing inside at all," Love said.
"We learned from '15, we implemented it in '18 [and] learned more in '18 that we'll implement in '21," Love said.
Benvenuti is looking forward to taking what he learned this year and implementing improvements at the next show, if CPR is awarded the recycling contract.
"With each of these shows, you learn something new and try to add it the next time. You take a step forward and learn something new with each new process. The show shows innovation. That's the point of the show. And we have to innovate with the show," he said.