Anaheim, Calif. — Registration for NPE2024 is tracking ahead of the last time the trade show was held and organizers with the Plastics Industry Association expect to see a big difference in the crowd attending the May 6-10 event in Orlando, Fla.
More than 10,000 people have signed up so far for North America's premier plastics industry event, which is expected to draw 55,000 to 60,000 visitors to the Orange County Convention Center.
The triennial event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, but excitement is building as plans take shape for a new opening night party and dozens of new programs through the week.
"The over-arching theme for NPE 2024, unlike anything we've done before, is the importance of sustainability. We have to walk the talk. Our industry is under attack," said Glenn Anderson, chief operating officer for the Washington-based trade group.
Registrations for the event are up 18 percent compared with this time in 2018, when NPE was last held, Anderson said at a Feb. 7 mixer meeting at the Medical Design and Manufacturing trade show in Anaheim.
"We're not resting on our laurels. We're keeping our foot on the gas," he added.
Although it's a small sample size, Anderson shared some statistics about the 10,000 registrants to date.
Twenty-five percent live outside the United States, 27 percent are under the age of 40, and 46 percent will be first timers to the event, which goes back almost 80 years.
NPE's international visitors are coming from 94 countries. Anderson expects they will represent 110 countries by the time NPE begins.
The trade group COO also said he is heartened by the number of age-40-and-younger signups as the plastics industry looks to attract a younger workforce.
"Many people who attended NPE in 2018 have left the workforce, have gotten out of the industry or retired," Anderson said. "NPE this year has to appeal to a newer and younger audience. We have to get the next level of personnel interested in plastics, interested in the industry and make a career out of plastics."
Almost half of the 10,000 registrants will be attending their first NPE.
"That's a big number," Anderson said.
Of the 2,000 exhibitors, some 500 will be newcomers too, which Anderson described as another big number.
Plastics association staff is focused on driving up registrations with fewer than 90 days left before the NPE2024 kickoff. Organizers scheduled an opening night party for the first time, 7-10 p.m. May 6 at the convention center's Valencia Room.
"We anticipate 2,500 to 3,000 people to come to this reception. It is 'the' networking opportunity of the week," Anderson said. "It will be a younger crowd and give industry veterans an opportunity to mix and mingle for the time in many, many years. That's something different for NPE."
NPE2024 also will have more than 100 educational sessions.
"It's going to be a broad spectrum of content for the new, young, up-and-coming employees and the aged industry veteran and everyone in between. There's content for everyone," Anderson said.
Another new feature of NPE2024 will be a breakfast with an inspirational keynote speaker for women in the plastics industry on May 8.
"We're really excited about that and it's another change to what we have done at prior NPEs," Anderson said.
NPE2024 will be a forum, community and marketplace, he added.
"It's the platform where we come together not only to do business but to connect, find inspiration and amplify our voices to advance our collective goals and the vision for a better industry future. That's on us. We've got to do it," Anderson said.
To help NPE 2024 attendees prepare, Plastics News will publish special reports about primary equipment on March 25, auxiliary equipment on April 8, and materials (including recyclers) on April 15.