Earlier this year, the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) hosted its second annual Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit in Orlando, Florida. The two-day summit featured recycling and plastics industry experts who presented solutions on how the industries can work collaboratively to advance manufacturers’ sustainability goals. It also set the stage for the coming year of PLASTICS’ continued effort to bolster its reach and tell the plastics industry’s sustainability story.

In May, we announced our Sustainability Advisory Board, leveraging the brightest professionals in a collaborative effort “to help move the needle forward for sustainability in the plastics industry,” as Kim Holmes, PLASTICS vice president of sustainability, says in the new release about its formation. “We want to have a forward-thinking group with the intention to drive beyond recycling and more broadly approach sustainability holistically, including recovery in addition to recycling.”

The goals of the board and the means by which it will achieve them were further refined after the board met at Re|focus. The Sustainability Advisory Board is made up of representatives from all segments of the supply chain and specific end markets who will guide PLASTICS’ sustainability work. The board’s mission statement dictates that the group will “prioritize opportunities, steer projects across the broader organization and ensure that the success of efforts [is] measurable so the industry’s environmental and societal impacts are understood.” Members will serve as liaisons to communicate sustainability priorities to provide clear direction and ensure sustainability efforts are effectively and successfully implemented. 

The group’s efforts are in their earliest stages, but I can say that its members are among the best and brightest that the plastics sustainability community has to offer, and I can’t wait to see them engage the whole supply chain to find solutions to the industry’s most pressing issues. Additionally, it was important that they met at Re|focus, where many creative ideas were discussed.

“Re|focus truly represented the next horizon of leadership around the sustainable management of plastics,” says Holli Alexander, strategic initiatives manager of Global Sustainability at Eastman, herself a member of the Sustainability Advisory Board. “I am honored to be a part of PLASTICS’ Sustainability Advisory Board, which is yet another way that the industry is demonstrating its priorities, focusing tightly on recycling while also expanding our view to understand issues and benefits of plastics used throughout their life cycle.”

Next year, the Re|focus Sustainability & Recycling Summit will co-locate with PLASTICS’ triennial trade show, NPE2018: The Plastics Show, bringing the entire plastics supply chain together in Orlando from May 7-11 to further engage plastics audiences that might not otherwise have the resources to focus on sustainability and recycling. We look forward to continuing our work and building on the momentum that PLASTICS and its sustainability practice have created in 2017.

Bill Carteaux is president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association, Washington.