Tuesday, November 15th, 2016
As part of America Recycles Day, we have a new guest blog post from Ronald L. Whaley on the future of recycling. Ron is the CEO of Geo-Tech Polymers and chairman of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) Recycling Committee.
For the last twenty years nothing much has changed in how plastics are recycled from an overall approach. The majority of people and companies working in the plastics recycling industry approach it from a single point of view.
The waste haulers, the sorting facilities, the brokers and the processors have only been focused on their segment of the business. Yes, some have tried to position themselves as the complete one stop recycling solution. To-date, the “one stop solution” has not been anymore successful than the traditional individual focused approach. The traditional approach has limited the industry’s ability to keep pace with the existing demand for recycled content while also limiting opportunities in new markets. If the industry ever hopes to meet the ever-growing demand for clean consistent recycled plastics content, things are going to have to change.
What needs to change?
The industry needs to change its focus from individual operators into groups working together to address all the needs of the plastics recycling supply chain. A few organizations such as SPI with their ELV (End of Life Vehicles) Project have started down this road by including participants from all segments of the auto recycling process. By addressing plastics recycling from a complete supply chain approach, unnecessary costs can be removed and long-term consistent supply can be assured. In addition, materials can be supplied to the growing group of OEM’s, CPG companies and others looking for recycled plastics. This approach also provides the opportunity for each participant in the supply chain to earn a reasonable and predictable return on its’ own investment.
Sometimes real growth requires a different approach and I believe it is time for the plastics recycling industry to step up and recognize the shortfalls in the current business model. The industry needs to develop working groups, each containing a representative or representatives from each of the segments of the plastics recycling supply chain, if we ever hope to meet the growing consumer demand for recycled plastics content.