Plastic Bank hopes K 2022 can catapult the social enterprise more firmly into the plastics industry. The company operates a software platform and builds networks that link more than 600 recycling centers in developing nations.
Founded in 2013, it has grown fast enough in recent years that it is getting enough volume of recycled plastic in its network to branch out to exhibiting at its first plastics show, said David Katz, founder and chief commercial officer.
"There's some significance for us, as the company has matured and been able to grow to a place to be able to support the volumes that companies attending the K fair may be looking for," Katz said. "We're growing exponentially."
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based firm said its network has collected about 60 million kilograms of plastic thus far — the equivalent of 3 billion bottles — and at K is exhibiting products made by major consumer product brands using its materials, including S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., Henkel and outdoor furniture maker ScanCom.
He said about half of Plastic Bank's volume thus far has been used by S.C. Johnson, which has made very public announcements about using ocean-bound plastic in its packaging.
Katz said Plastic Bank wants to build stronger ties in the plastics industry, as it seeks more markets for the recycled PET, polypropylene, and high and low density polyethylene that the network produces.
At K, the company says it will commit to stopping 50 ocean-bound plastic bottles for every attendee who signs up for the company's "Ocean Steward" program, but it's also focused on building relationships with companies. It has had about a dozen such arrangements with firms in the plastics industry, including injection machinery maker Engel Group.
More of its work, though, has been with consumer products companies that use Plastic Bank's blockchain-secured platform to verify and trace where material comes from and follow it through the supply chain.
The bank hopes its K 2022 appearance can strengthen its network within the plastics industry, whether that's recyclers, packaging makers or other companies.
"We haven't been targeting the plastics industry as broadly as we are now, so we'll see how it changes," Katz said.