Cancellations, work-from-home rules and shipping complications are cascading throughout the plastics industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
By March 13, the Society of Plastics Engineers had moved Antec 2020 to a digital-only event, the Plastics Industry Association had canceled its board meeting and Fly-In in Washington, D.C., medical suppliers rushed to ramp up production, and companies everywhere began urging hand-washing and "social distancing" to help keep COVID-19 from spreading.
Two major events on the U.S. plastics industry calendar, Antec and the Fly-In, had still been set to go until late on March 12.
SPE President Brian Landes sent a letter to SPE councilors at the end of day March 12 saying that escalating concern about COVID-19 made holding the conference impossible. Antec was set for March 29 to April 2 in San Antonio. Antec is the SPE's biggest annual event, and it would have been the largest U.S. plastics gathering this year.
However, Antec 2020: The Virtual Edition will go on.
"Antec is the premier knowledge-sharing and networking event for the plastics industry," Landes wrote in the letter. "So even though corporate travel bans and social-distancing requirements have made the networking part of Antec impossible, the knowledge-sharing will go on!"
The virtual Antec will open March 30. SPE will release more details later, Landes said in the letter. SPE also will host an online council meeting on March 27.
Tony Radoszewski, CEO and president of the Plastics Industry Association, announced late on March 12 that the March 24-26 Fly-In, a board meeting and the 2020 Posthumous Plastics Hall of Fame induction ceremony were all in the process of being canceled or moved to a later date.
The decision came after the federal government announced earlier in the day that the U.S. Capitol and related buildings housing offices for members of the Senate and House would be restricted to official business through at least the end of March.
"As a precaution for the safety of our members, guests and staff amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic, I, along with the [association's] board chairman, have decided to cancel the spring board meetings and Plastics Industry Fly-In," Radoszewski said. "Moving some aspects of the meeting to a future date demonstrates the continued commitment to the important work of [the group's] membership during this critical time."
The association said it would continue to monitor the coronavirus impact.
"Our principal concern is the safety and wellness of our members, attendees, staff, vendors and the plastics industry," Radoszewski said. "As such, we will continue to follow the official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding COVID-19 and take every precaution to keep our staff safe and our office open for business as we conduct these virtual meetings."
In addition, the association will work the next 30 days from home, starting on March 16, following an emergency declaration order from the District of Columbia. Radoszewski said in a letter sent out on March 13 that the group has systems in place to "function remotely and we do not expect this change to impact workflow."
All non-business-critical meetings that require travel will be held virtually.
Messe Düsseldorf announced March 13 it has canceled Interpack 2020 until early 2021.
The packaging trade show had been set for May 7-13. It will now take place Feb. 25 to March 3, 2021, in Düsseldorf, Germany.