Contending with change

Features - Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Preview

The 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference helps professionals to gain new approaches for dealing with changes within these industries.

July 31, 2017

The 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference, to be held in Chicago at the Marriott Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile from Oct. 11-13 this year, features educational sessions on important topics facing the paper and plastics recycling industries, as well as a speaker roster comprising notable sector leaders. With its combination of educational sessions, networking opportunities and exhibit hall, the conference seeks to prepare recycling industry professionals for the complicated and rapidly changing marketplace.

The event is produced by the Recycling Today Media Group, a business unit of GIE Media Inc., Valley View, Ohio, in coordination with the Paper Stock Industries (PSI) Chapter of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Washington, and the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), also headquartered in Washington.

The Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference always has served as a meeting place for elite networking and business programming, and this year’s event follows in that tradition.

Getting down to business

This year’s conference begins Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 1:30 p.m. with Greg Rudder of the research firm RISI, which is based in Boston, explaining the methodology behind its pricing. Rudder provides insight into RISI’s pricing model for recovered fiber and its process to arrive at these figures.

Also scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. is Getting the Most for UBCs. Moderated by Dan Sandoval, former senior editor of Recycling Today, and featuring speakers Pat Madison of Chicago-based Universal Scrap Metals (USM) and Andrew Logsdon of Constellium Metal Procurement LLC, Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The speakers explain how they maximize value when handling and processing used beverage containers (UBCs).

The first two workshops, which end at 2:30, are followed by another pair of sessions that begin at 2:45 p.m. At the Plastics Pricing Index workshop, speakers share their methods for pricing recycled plastics and which factors influence how much consumers are willing to pay for these materials. In the workshop Contracting Control, Michael Timpane, vice president of material recovery and process optimization for RRS, which is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, explains how he works with municipalities to examine the performance of their recycling contracts and how to use that data when establishing new contracts.

Succeeding these workshops at 4 p.m. is the keynote session, Executive Roundtable: The Future of Recycling. This is a high-level discussion about the future of recycling and disposal systems in North America and spans a variety of subtopics, such as service fees, incoming material streams, outbound material quality and solutions for handling nontraditional recyclables. Speakers include Rob Tiede, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Sonoco Products Co., Hartsville, South Carolina.

In Processing Plant of the Future, Thursday, Oct. 12, from 8:30 to 10 a.m., speakers share their educated predictions for emerging and evolving technologies as well as changing material streams and quality requirements.

From 10:30 to noon Thursday, the PSI Chapter of ISRI hosts its session. The group met earlier this year to modify the preamble to the paper stock section of the “Scrap Specifications Circular” and to set guidelines on allowable moisture levels in recycled paper bales. In this session, PSI shares with attendees how these changes will affect them in the coming months.

During The Changing Paper Industry, from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 12., speakers delve into the expected effects of major paper recycling fluctuations and trends in old corrugated containers (OCC) generation. In the concurrent session, Plastics Mill Buyers, buyers for companies that transform recovered plastics into raw materials for use in new products analyze factors driving demand and pricing.

From 3 to 4 p.m., speakers during Postindustrial Plastics: Distribution Centers and Beyond discuss the postindustrial plastics recycling landscape with a focus on generating and consuming markets.

In the same time slot, Smooth Sailing features Joel Perler of the Port of Long Beach in California; Mario Bruendel of Jerich International, who works out of California; and Tom Smart of Mitsui Osk Lines America, who is based in Chicago. They share their experiences managing seagoing shipments and the latest happenings at ports.

Thursday’s final sessions run simultaneously from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Export: ASEAN focuses on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) market, with speakers highlighting how recycling markets in those regions are doing. Smaller but Mighty features recycling business owners Seth Goodman of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts-based Northstar Recycling (profiled in the February 2016 issue of Recycling Today, available at, and Ed Mamou of Royal Oak, Michigan-headquartered Royal Oak Recycling, explaining their strategies for thriving among industry titans.

Programming Friday, Oct. 13, starts at 8:30 a.m. with Export: National Sword. Steve Wong of Fukutomi Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, and Billy Johnson, chief lobbyist for ISRI, give their takes on China’s National Sword campaign.

The last session, The Effect of E-Commerce on Recycling Markets, is scheduled for 10 to 11:15 a.m. Speakers discuss the growth of e-commerce from a recycling perspective.

Network with industry peers

The event includes many opportunities to meet other recycling industry professionals. Throughout the three days, six networking breaks are scheduled between sessions. Breakfasts Thursday and Friday and lunch Thursday also allow for networking with other attendees and with exhibitors.

The Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference also includes two evening cocktail receptions in the exhibit hall Wednesday (5:30 to 7) and Thursday (5:30 to 6:30).

The first day’s activities are capped off with a PSI bowling tournament, where attendees can make new friends and support a good cause. The event benefits the PSI Scholarship Fund and takes place at 8 p.m. at Lucky Strike Chicago.

For more information on speakers as they are confirmed and to register, visit

The author is an intern with the Recycling Today Media Group.