I know we say this often, but the packaging industry, in its various shapes and forms, is really at a point in which collaboration is occurring more than ever before. Both Lynn and I have spoken of this frequently, and last week’s Resource Recycling Conference down in New Orleans was no different. From networking opportunities to the conference sessions, the messages were there about collaboration and common themes.
It’s all about building bridges to connect the islands in the stream. And, as we all know, it takes more than one person or group working to build those bridges. I am happy to report that there are a lot of folks working on the problems, be it our friends at the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR) and The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) who have been long at work on recycling equations and continue to do so, or newer programs like Curbside Value Partnership’s (CVP) Recycling Partnership.
I was fortunate enough to be able to present last Wednesday morning on the ongoing work of FPI’s Paper Recovery Alliance and Plastics Recovery Group. Given the volume of work the PRA and PRG have been able to accomplish over the past three years, it should be no surprise at how many recycling experts have been involved in our work. Throughout the conference, we ran into many of these people who have left shaping fingerprints on our project. Many of them have moved on to other projects, but carry those fingerprints on to the work they are doing now, taking a little piece of FPI with them when they go.
During my presentation session, I was fortunate enough to share the stage with two other presenters who are also working on some tough pieces: Nathan Benjamin from Planet Reuse, and Stacey Luddy with Moore Recycling Associates. Nathan’s work on the reuse of building materials and the creation of a marketplace buyers and sellers of salvaged materials from demolition and construction sites can come together is fascinating. Like PRA and PRG’s work on foodservice recovery, Nathan’s work is all about diverting materials from the landfill.
While we are familiar with the work of Moore Recycling, I was not previously aware of Stacey’s topic. I was thrilled to hear that Stacey is hard at work on helping to create consistent terminology for plastics recycling. We learned from our benchmarking study last year that there are inconsistent terminologies between our industry, MRFs and communities. Now, Moore is building a resource to help tackle this problem for plastics! Check it out for yourself here.
We will likely be in attendance at next year’s conference in Indianapolis. In the 369 days between then and now, it is exciting to think about all of the things that might be accomplished and move us closer to connecting each of the recycling islands in the system. I’m looking forward to hearing about what we’ve all done with that time.