Cincinnati — Achieving a circular economy is a way for plastics recyclers to move forward and overcome challenges such as slumping demand.
Jon Stephens, CEO at Natura PCR LLC, talked about the circular economy and better transportation systems for recyclers at the recent Baerlocher Recycling Summit in Cincinnati.
Stephens touched on the need for collaboration within the industry to make any advancements. That includes focusing on applications where companies can use more recycled resins.
"What's important is continued collaboration across all levels and all stakeholders. Because if somebody changes something, whether it be a packaging design or the way they collect it, you can affect how recyclable that is downstream," Stephens said.
"It's going to take the entire industry on that collaboration," he added.
Natura PCR is the manufacturing arm of Avangard Innovative, a major film recycler and post-consumer resin producer.
Stephens spoke about three pillars that would help the plastics industry move towards a circular economy: design for recyclability, higher quality collection infrastructure and demand.
A major way Stephens thinks companies are going to be able to scale their business is to incorporate railway systems into the future of plastics.
Natura PCR is starting to install rail lines at its complex in Texas, with plans to be operational by the end of the first quarter of 2024.
From the company's perspective it is easier to load a railcar with resin, plus that will allow the firm to both send and receive boxcars of material.
Houston-based Natura PCR wants to explore this option, which will give it the ability to reach out across longer distances without making a larger carbon footprint.