NPE ’12: North Am plastics groups press industry on energy recovery

02 April 2012 23:59  [Source: ICIS news]

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS)--An alliance of US and Canadian plastics trade groups on Monday announced a broad outreach plan to encourage energy recovery in the plastics industry.

The North American Plastics Alliance (NAPA) said it was using the 27th triennial National Plastics Exhibition (NPE) to reach the nearly 60,000 event visitors in hopes of recruiting more companies to the energy recovery and pellet containment effort.

NAPA is made up of the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI), the plastics division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA).

The group was formed in July last year in an effort to standardise containment and energy recovery practices across North America.

Greg Wilkinson, president of Third Oak Associates of Toronto, Canada, and a communications advisor to NAPA, said one focus of the campaign is to get more companies to audit their production processes and supply chains in hopes of improving pellet containment.

That containment objective is to keep resin feedstock pellets from migrating into the environment and ultimately making their way into waterways.

“There are a lot of connection points along the supply chain and production line where pellet loss takes place, and we want more companies to audit their operations, find the loss areas and contain them,” he said.

Wilkinson noted that pellet migration into the environment can raise costs for companies through environmental regulatory fines.

“It is more cost effective and better to be making products out of those wayward pellets than to be paying fines on them,” he said.

He also noted that better pellet containment practices can improve workplace safety and reduce liability costs.  

A second major focus for the NAPA programme is energy recovery, using recovered plastic waste items as an energy fuel for manufacturing.

“The challenge has been in how we use plastics post-use,” Wilkinson said, referring to such end-of-life items as discarded computer monitor shells and casings, junked plastic auto parts and others.

“We’ve been treating post-use plastics as a waste stream” that ultimately ends up in a landfill, Wilkinson said.

But in recycling plastic waste as a fuel, he said, the industry can recapture the energy stored in those end-of-life products.

“The idea is to take advantage of it rather than pay to bury it,” he said.

Wilkinson said that while NAPA at present includes only the two US and one Canadian plastics trade associations, they hope to bring Mexico into the group eventually.

This year’s NPE marks the trade show’s 66th year in operation.  NPE is sponsored by SPI, which also is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

The conference opened on Sunday and runs through Thursday.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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