Welcome to the Second Edition of the Plastics Beat and my first edition as chair of the Plastics Division! I welcome this opportunity to inform you of what we are doing to support plastics recycling and keep you up to date with what is going on in the industry.
I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you. I am the co-founder/president of GDB International Inc., a recycling and sustainability company based in New Jersey.
As a paper and plastics recycler, I have seen firsthand the impact market forces have had on our industry. The actions taken by China have created unprecedented challenges for the plastics recycling industry. I believe the current state of the market will become the new normal for our industry. However, I also firmly believe these challenges will give birth to new opportunities for the industry. Our industry is experiencing an unprecedented increase in technology investments to process the plastic scrap that was previously destined for China. We cannot let the reluctance of one trading partner to accept our scrap destroy the entire recycling industry. We must realize the undeniable fact that “recycling at the source” is here to stay. As part of this new normal, we must realize that the society that generates the scrap will ultimately be responsible for its recycling.
Plastics is attracting a disproportionate amount of negative press. Terms like “ocean plastics,” “single-use plastics,” and “plastics pollution” have become a big part of the problem facing our planet. The country’s dismal recycling rate is a major factor why I believe plastic has changed from “wonder material” to “pariah material.” Moreover, as a society we must reduce our dependence on single-use plastics in our daily lives. We have to use plastics responsibly and have to place the environment over instant convenience.
I believe we are fortunate to belong to ISRI. The leadership from our Executive Board, as well as our staff are forward looking and have begun the process to help us find solutions to the challenges we face. For example, at the last Board of the Directors meeting, the ISRI Board authorized the expenditure of $40,000 to partner with the Association of Plastics Recyclers to study how two-dimensional and three-dimensional items behave on the conveyor in a MRF. This study will help MRFs understand how to better capture the materials that are coming into their facilities today, and how to plan for the future. We have held brainstorming sessions to hear as many points of view as possible, held workshops at our Convention to bring attention to the situation, participated in conferences designed to open new markets, and continue to hold webinars throughout the year to educate us and help us focus our energy.
Yes, the challenges are many, but I believe that with your help, insight and courage we can make the next two years as the turning point in the current crisis. I welcome your feedback and look forward to working with you.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Maite Quinn who has tirelessly worked for last two years to lead the Plastics Division to new heights. Her pioneering spirit will be an inspiration and guide for the new leadership team.
And finally, as a reminder, our next Plastics Division meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., July 10 - 13, 2018, Marriott at Metro Center. Please go to the ISRI website
for the meeting. I hope to see you there!