2019 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference in Chicago Oct. 23–25

NuCycle Energy’s Jim LaDue, COO, and Joseph Knapik, director of EHS & quality, attended the 2019 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference in Chicago Oct. 23–25. The big takeaway? Ensuring QUALITY throughout the supply chain.

There’s a lot of press regarding challenges to the recycling market, and much of it is true. NuCycle Energy’s suppliers and tens of thousands of other businesses nationwide are seeking to reach ever higher recycling and waste-reduction outcomes. The prevailing theme, whether from the pre- or post-consumer side, is that quality control and supply-chain integrity are two big parts of the puzzle.

Recycling is hindered by quality problems ranging from the aspirational recycler wanting to throw everything in the bin to the complexity in packaging materials to the variable capabilities in today’s recycling infrastructure.

The Recycling Partnership, Waste Management Recycle America, Republic Services, Pratt Recycling, and other organizations offered important information on what is needed to make recycling and materials re-use a success. Many speakers mentioned the pressure of the rising costs involved in processing the recycled materials and stressed the need to increase buy-in at the initial consumer stage, through educational programs and the removal of hurdles to sorting materials.

The question of what to do with processed recyclables was addressed by Coca-Cola North America’s Sustainable Packaging Program, KW Plastics, Buckeye Polymers and the Closed Loop Fund. These presenters gave great overviews of the potential and capacity in the marketplace for use of post-consumer resins (PCR).

Coca-Cola’s goals include incorporating as much as 50-percent PCR in some packaging. To show how that can happen, plastics processors discussed their successes in bringing high-quality streams to market and their investments in technology that drive down costs and improve yields.

Experts in this field stressed the need to treat recyclable materials as valuable commodities. There are high-quality streams of matter that are unusable because they contain materials not designed for traditional recycling. However, landfill endpoints aren’t the answer—many of these materials are still valuable for use in reprocessing. Because of the tight specifications these materials share, there are fuel-usage options. We learned that many countries already have developed infrastructure to support fuel manufacturing, and we shared stories of our success creating Enviro-Fuelcubes® here with many attendees and presenters.

We further strengthened NuCycle Energy’s supply chain for raw materials and left the conference convinced that our partnerships with our suppliers are based on the same best-practice principles used in other leading-edge sustainability programs.

NuCycle Energy’s suppliers understand the importance of providing us the high-quality, fuel-grade material needed for our Enviro-Fuelcubes®. They are fully committed to NuCycle Energy’s objective of reducing the use of coal and heavy fuel through an emphasis on ensuring quality in our final product and throughout the supply chain.