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Litter and Recycling and Specs, Oh My!

Natha and I were both on the road last week at several different events, representing our members, the association and the industry. Here are the highlights…

I was at the Keep America Beautiful National Conference. FPI sponsored the keynote speaker, Rob Curnow, a community psychologist and leading authority on human behavior in waste minimization. Following Rob’s presentation, I spoke on a panel along with representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Georgia. I discussed that while foodservice packaging was an unfortunate part of the litter stream, packaging is not the problem. The real problem is consumer behavior and the people who choose to litter their single-use items. It was a good discussion with the panel and audience members, and attending the conference gave me an opportunity to tout our “Being a Good Neighbor: A Guide to Reducing and Managing Litter” resource we published last year with the help of KAB and the National Restaurant Association.  Besides the panel, there were many occasions to network with hundreds of KAB affiliates from throughout the country and answer their questions about foodservice packaging.

Later in the week, I attended Waste Management’s Executive Sustainability Forum. I’d never been to the event before and wasn’t sure what to expect. The speakers were fascinating, and I thoroughly appreciated one of the panel discussions in which FPI was kindly mentioned not once, but twice, by panelists Jim Hanna from Starbucks (active in FPI’s recovery work) and Keefe Harrison of The Recycling Partnership (of which FPI is a sponsor). Rounding out the event were breakout sessions, and I was asked to assist the EPA representative in her discussions about wasted food (have you read my blog post from last week?) As expected, the event also provided great networking opportunities, helping to elevate FPI’s reputation as an association very engaged in key issues like recycling and food waste recovery.

As for Natha’s travels, I’ll let her fill you in…

Hi everyone – Natha here.  It was a well-rounded week for me, doing double duty, first at the Plastics Recycling Conference and next at the PSI Specifications Summit.  Fortunately, both were in New Orleans and hosted at the same venue – we can’t say enough for co-located events! 

Having been to the Plastics Recycling Conference many times before, I knew exactly what I was getting:  jam packed sessions on plastics, with many, many familiar faces.  I love the opportunity to see so many of our fellow association representatives, other allies, and even a few FPI members!  With over 1700 attendees, can we say networking?! I spent a lot of time talking to old friends and new faces. It was a busy two and a half days, but I wasn’t done yet…

The last half of the week was a newer experience for me.  The Paper Scrap Industries (PSI) Chapter of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) hosted a specifications summit.  ISRI is responsible for setting scrap specifications and publishes them in a circular each year.  These specifications serve as guidelines for those people buying scrap materials. 

As a trade association, FPI is not eligible for membership with this group, so it is a special occasion when non-members like me are invited to the table to listen to the discussion.  In this case, PSI has suggested some changes to a few of the specifications for stock paper.  The reality is the types of paper in the recycling stream are shifting.  It doesn’t take an industry expert to know that newspaper no longer makes up a large percentage of the bin.  What the proposed changes are intending to do is alter a few of the current specifications to better reflect the makeup of a recycled paper bale.  The two and a half days of meetings on this side were to discuss and debate those proposed changes as well as several other topics and definitions related the paper stock specifications. 

Getting to listen and even participate a little bit in these discussions was fascinating.  In my opinion, there isn’t a better way to be educated than to listen to a room full of subject matter experts, and believe me, they were all there.  The discussions were lively, if occasionally a little heated as opinions were shared with the specifications committee and the audience.  Points were taken and received as a part of the process and at the end of the week when the votes were cast, some of the proposed changes were set to move on to the next level – in this case, is a vote of the ISRI Paper Division at the ISRI Convention in April.   

This was my second specifications summit and I truly hope PSI chooses to host more.  In the meantime, I will be attending the aforementioned ISRI Convention in April, and Lynn and I plan to make the Paper and Plastics Recycling Conference a priority in October.  I’m sure there will be more to learn about the specifications at both of those events.

Lynn and I will be back out there on behalf of FPI in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I am still recovering after last week's road trip, but it was exhaustion well earned!

Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 2/9/2016 3:20:29 PM