Addressing challenges

The Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference helps attendees connect with opportunities in today’s challenging environment.

In its 17th year, the Recycling Today Media Group’s Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference has a history of bringing together recovered materials suppliers and consumers in the paper and plastics sectors. The event, which takes place in Chicago Oct. 19-21, seeks to combine educational programming on commodity markets, demand trends and technology innovations with networking opportunities in an effort to attract industry leaders who want to discuss the issues that are at the heart of the recycling industry today.

Produced in association with the Paper Stock Industries (PSI) chapter of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and SPI, the plastics industry trade association, the event is designed to provide maximum value to those in the recycling industry, generators of recyclables, mills and material consumers, government officials and industry suppliers, as well as those companies seeking zero-waste-to-landfill solutions.

The last couple of years have been challenging to paper and plastics recyclers alike, and programming at the 2016 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference touches on many of the issues that have been straining professionals in these sectors.

Topics of interest

Sessions at this year’s Paper & Plastic Recycling Conference are designed to address many of the issues the recycling industry has encountered head-on. Interactive question-and-answer periods at each of the sessions are designed to start conversations that can be continued during the event’s many networking opportunities.

Conference programming begins Oct. 19 with a workshop geared toward one of the more challenging materials material recovery facility (MRF) operators are confronted with and ends with a look at the state of the overall economy. First, however, Bill Moore and the team at Moore & Associates, Atlanta, present statistics on generation, consumption and pricing of recovered paper in a one-hour workshop that begins at 1:30 p.m. At the same time, Judy Ferraro of Judy Ferraro & Associates Inc., Lemont, Illinois, offers sales and marketing training on supply development in a workshop format.

From 2:45 to 3:45 p.m., Making the Most of Glass features panelists who share how they have increased the marketability and the cleanliness of their glass. Speakers share why they decided to invest in this area and the benefits they have seen.

In that same time slot, Bruce Westaway, director, sustainable materials management, Cascades Recovery Inc., Toronto, and Stacy Katz, manager, materials management and quality, of Houston-based Waste Management, talk about their methods for scrutinizing incoming material in the session You Can’t Fix What You Don’t Measure. They share how they are using the data they compile to provide feedback to program administrators and collection operators and to change the financial playing field.

In the keynote session, Economic Insights, from 4 to 6 p.m., Bill Strauss, senior economist and economic adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, looks at the macroeconomic factors influencing the basic commodities markets, particularly those for recovered paper and plastics.

Myles Cohen of Pratt Industries was among the speakers at the 2015 event.

Educational programming Thursday, Oct. 20, begins with a session at 8:30 a.m. that looks at the future of processing and collection. Panelists examine the shape of the industry to come, addressing the changing material streams, the evolution of processing technology, contract terms and the business model that looks at recycling as a service.

Sessions at 10:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. focus on the global paper and plastics markets, respectively, while panelists in the session Delving into Postindustrial Plastics, beginning at 10:30 a.m., share how they have developed a range of opportunities collecting, processing and marketing industrial plastics.

From 1:30 to 3 p.m., representatives from the PSI Chapter of ISRI explain the recently updated recovered paper specifications. Attendees also hear about these changes from the perspectives of a collector/processor and a mill buyer.

In the session Maximizing Safety and Productivity, which begins at 3:30 p.m., MRF operators share their tactics for managing and motivating line workers to maximize productivity while also prioritizing safety.

Friday, Oct. 21, attendees of the session Mill Buying and Selling: Industry Veterans’ Perspectives, beginning at 8:30 a.m., hear from seasoned professionals who share the lessons that have shaped their strategies and fostered their success. This session provides a look behind the curtain at the truths that drive the paper recycling business. Panelists include John Daniel of Federal International, St. Louis, and Ed Tucciarone of Atlanta-based Graphic Packaging International.

Tamsin Ettefagh of Envision Plastics moderates the PET Super Session, which begins at 10:15 a.m. This session brings together polyethylene terephthalate (PET) buyers from the nation’s largest consumers to share the factors they see driving the industry. They provide insights into the opportunities and the challenges the market faces over the coming months and years.

Making acquaintances

In addition to interactive Q&A opportunities that follow each workshop and session, Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference attendees have the opportunity to continue the discussion during the numerous networking opportunities the event offers. For instance, they can discuss Strauss’ economic insights as they gather in the exhibit hall at the Marriott Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile Wednesday, Oct. 19, for drinks and appetizers during the opening reception beginning at 6 p.m. Attendees also can take advantage of this opportunity to visit with exhibitors to learn more about the products and services they offer.

The PSI Bowling Tournament Oct. 19 at Lucky Strike gives attendees the opportunity to take a break from business to engage in some laughs, strikes and the occasional gutter ball.

When it’s time to get back to business, the Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference offers five networking breaks as well as a second exhibit hall reception scheduled for Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Exhibit hall breakfasts and lunches also encourage networking and mingling with exhibiting companies.

Updated lists of conference speakers and exhibitors and registration information are at

The author is managing editor of Recycling Today and can be reached at

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