11 May 2016
Plasticity Forum completes fifth annual conference in Shanghai
SHANGHAI, CHINA – The Plasticity Forum (www.plasticityforum.com) wrapped up its fifth annual conference in Shanghai on April 27th with more than 20 expert presenters providing a diversity of insights, data, innovations, opinions and inspiration about how better to reduce plastics waste and leverage this valuable material to help drive the circular economy.
With a conference theme of “Material Solutions for Undervalued Resources,” more than 130 high-level Plasticity attendees got a crash course in promising and emerging technologies, collaborative legislative and environmental initiatives, and numerous real-life examples of organizations making tangible progress toward reducing waste, reusing resources, creating business opportunities, and improving their brand value.
Speaker Larry Black, Senior Adviser to Sustainability consultants McDonough Innovation, suggested that a long-term goal should be to “eliminate the concept of waste by identifying every material as a nutrient for a future circle, thus creating a circular economy and the systems to support it.” There were plenty of examples of this during the day, showcasing what can be done, and how it can be scaled in order to reduce our collective waste footprint.
* Dr. Richard Mattison, CEO of UK-based Trucost LLC, unveiled the impressive results of a recent study titled “Scaling Sustainable Plastics: Solutions to Drive Plastics Towards a Circular Economy.” In it, Trucost suggests that companies using sustainable plastics simply by expanding initiatives such as Dell Inc.’s closed-loop computer recycling project and use of Algix LLC’s algae-based, low-carbon bioplastic Solaplast, across their respective industries, could deliver $3.5 billion in environmental savings. This new net-benefit analysis offers a mind-set change in how managers make long-term decisions on their sustainability programs, putting value on positive externalities which benefit the company, employees, communities and customers they serve.
* Patrick Riley, Senior Vice President for China and Hong Kong for U.S.-based carpet maker Interface, discussed how his firm is recapturing and recycling discarded fishing nets into high-quality carpets, creating a valuable stream of material from a previously fragmented and forgotten waste-stream.
* Kim Siu, General Manager of marketing for A.S. Watsons, outlined how his firm moved from zero to 100% recycled PET material for Watsons Water bottles in Hong Kong in 2015, saving 75 million bottles from the waste stream as a result, and creating a large demand for recycled PET material from the region.
* Dr. Lai Li – Jiangsu Province, Director of Government Information, Jiangsu Information Centre shared their aggressive plans to create a platform for exchange within the province so that industrial parks and companies will be able to share knowledge and aggregated recovery of waste materials in order to create one of the leading circular economy ecosystems within China.
* Dr. Mike Biddle, Clean-tech Entrepreneur and Founder/Board Member of durable-product recycling pioneer MBA Polymers, offered a strategic path forward for more responsible waste management (which he, like Larry Black, prefers to call “resource management”). Biddle also referred to MBA Polymers’ launch in Austria, just days before, of what it claims to be the world’s first commercial-scale production of post-consumer polycarbonate/ABS plastic pellets from shredded waste electrical and electronic equipment.
* Akshay Sethi, the young CEO of San Francisco-based Ambercycle Inc. and winner of the H&M Global Change Award, spoke about his firm’s unique process of enzymes to digest the high-quality raw materials used in making PET plastic directly from textile waste, thereby enabling cost-advantaged recycled PET production.
* Steve Davies, Director of Public Affairs, NatureWorks, and Dr. Lars Boerger,Vice Director, Head of Global Marketing – Biodegradable Polymers at BASF, both spoke on the Myths, Realities and Opportunities associated with bioplastics, and how they can soon be created directly from CO2, and also be designed to be recycled, or composted, depending on the application. Material prices are now also becoming competitive with plastics made from oil (and linked to oil prices), due to economies of scale and increasing demand from users.
Some of Plasticity’s attendees then also participated the following day in an interactive, green-design workshop hosted by CBi China Bridge, Successful Design Organization and Green Initiatives, in which teams brainstormed about possible solutions to packaging and products that fit into a circular economy with resource/material recovery along the way.
“Plastic is a valuable resource, but the current processes within many of our communities do not allow optimized resource recovery,” according to Plasticity founder Doug Woodring. “Companies now realize that environmental sustainability has a positive impact not only on the communities they serve, but also on their own bottom line. Managing the plastic ecosystem through recycling, reuse and closed-loop methods can create jobs, save money, improve brand value and create efficiency in corporate supply chains.”
The Plasticity Forum brings together thought leaders, brand owners, materials suppliers, recyclers, product designers, innovators, policy influencers, decision makers and investors to share key learnings, and their experiences and strategies around the use and recovery of plastic. The aim is to develop profitable, sustainable solutions while mimimizing plastics’ environmental footprint.
See more information and some of the speaker presentations from Shanghai on the event website at www.plasticityforum.com. Also save the date of Sept. 21, 2016, for the next Plasticity Forum, in London, as part of the London Design Festival. Watch the Plasticity website for more details.