Welcome to the Fall edition and last Plastics Beat for 2018. This year has been filled with ups and downs and more challenges than we would have liked. But through it all we were able to persevere and become a stronger industry for it.
With China’s closure of its ports to the import of scrap plastics, the industry has been forced to adjust to a significant challenge. Many companies saw this as an opportunity to alter their business model and find new homes for their materials in such places as Vietnam, Thailand, and other South East Asian countries. While other companies saw this situation as an impetus to expand their role in the industry by developing extrusion and pelletization capacity. Still others are looking to expand their domestic markets and have used this to develop strong relationships with many domestic consumers of plastic resins.
While the immediate reaction was for many to shift their business models, it has also forced the industry to look at how the entire value chain treats recycled resins and the responsibility everyone plays to ensure plastics are responsibly recycled. With reports in the media that “recycling is dead” due to the Chinese closing their ports, many in the public are getting the wrong idea. Many believe that their plastics are now “just going to the landfill” and as such don’t believe recycling is worthwhile. Nothing can be further from the truth and there is still great demand for HDPE, Polypropylene, PET, and other resins. What the industry must do now is expand plastic recycling and bring post-consumer resin to a new level of acceptance. One way to do that is to demand that manufacturers, either voluntarily or through legislative action, increase the amount of recycled content in the products they make and to purchase more products that include recycled content. Many of ISRI’s partner organizations are sounding this call and one I would like to point out is the Association of Plastic Recyclers Demand Champions Program. APR’s Demand Champion Program challenges manufacturers and consumers of plastic resin to increase the recycled content in their products. These actions will spur demand and we will feel the pull throughout the value chain.
As we begin 2019, you will see ISRI start taking a more aggressive stance regarding recycled content and our calls for consumers of recycled resins to utilize more in their products. We are looking to develop new programs such as a Plastics Resin Operational Training Conference, expanding our outreach, and developing new policy forums to discuss these issues as well as plastic resin guides, a comprehensive webinar series, workshops at ISRI’s Annual Convention, market surveys, and other resources all designed to give you the support you need to succeed in these challenging times.
I believe we are at a crossroads and we must all seize the opportunity before us to ask everyone up and down the value chain to do their part to expand opportunities for plastic recycling. To this end, I encourage you to come to ISRI’s Winter Board meeting, January 22 to 24 in Austin, Texas and join the conversation.
I hope to see you there!
Sunil Bagaria, GDB International Inc.