SPI seeks data on management of post-industrial recycling in the U.S.

SPI seeks data on management of post-industrial recycling in the U.S.

The manufacturing process for almost any product inherently creates byproducts that must be managed. For the plastics industry, much of that byproduct is in the form of post-industrial scrap plastics. Off-spec material, spruce and runner pieces, and material generated at production start-up are all byproducts of the resin making and plastic molding process. The reworking of post-industrial scrap plastics back into the manufacturing process is an activity that much of the plastics industry engages in on a regular basis. But the extent to which this occurs, and how exactly it is happening, remains largely unknown.

The plastics industry is the third largest manufacturing industry in the U.S., so byproduct management is an important issue, and is one that the recycling industry plays a key role in. SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association has turned new focus on improving recovery opportunities for plastics. One of the initial efforts underway as part of SPI's recycling program is to gather information on post-industrial scrap management in the U.S. The trade association has developed surveys that seek information that will paint a clearer picture of post-industrial scrap generation and management.

"In general, post-industrial scrap plastics are of high quality, and are a fairly straightforward material to work back into the manufacturing process. We expect to learn that much of this material is currently being diverted from landfills," notes Kim Holmes, director of recycling at SPI. "What is unclear is where the barriers lie. Are there some types of post-industrial resins that are more challenging to recycle, or for which markets are not as strong? In addition to the positive story that we think will emerge around byproduct management for the plastics industry, we're also hoping to uncover any impediments that may exist so we can begin to address those and move the plastics industry closer to the zero waste pursuit adopted by SPI."

Any recycler buying and managing post-industrial scrap from generators in the U.S. is encouraged to participate in the survey. Those wanting to participate in the survey, or who may have questions about participation, should email Kim Holmes at kholmes@plasticsindustry.org.

The findings of this survey will be presented at the SPI National Board meeting being held in Boston from Sept. 18-20.

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