Greetings from sunny Florida
Posted on 27 March 2015
I’m currently in Orlando, Florida, covering the NPE plastics trade show for the show daily newspaper, produced by our Detroit colleagues from Plastics News.
It’s my second NPE – the show, like K, happens every three years – and just like the last time it’s been a fascinating few days.
Seeing how the Americans do things on their own patch is a bit of an eye-opener. Everything is big, obviously. Then there’s the enthusiasm, the optimism, the ‘can do’ attitude. It’s all good stuff.
I’ve been covering a series of conference sessions for the show daily and there have been some pretty interesting observations about the state of the world in general and plastics in particular.
A presentation given by Zabysko Tabernacki from IHS, the research and forecasting outfit, was interesting for its analysis of the oil price outlook – and a prediction that the Federal Reserve Bank here in the US will raise interest rates in September.
Elsewhere, Mike Martinez of Dart Container Corporation argued passionately about the need for the plastics industry to do more to get a positive message about its activities across – a familiar theme for us here on PRW – and to do more to engage with local communities to show how plastics can improve society.
I also heard about how one of the largest – if not the largest – retailer in the US, Wal-Mart, works directly with its suppliers, including plastics processors, to get more US-made goods onto its shelves.
Then there was the panel discussion about how to bridge the communication gap between designers and engineers in the plastics sector.
But the one that did it for me was a presentation by a bloke called Tobias Schultz, of SCS Global Services, an environmental consultancy that certifies businesses for taking action to mitigate their carbon footprint, among other green initiatives.
Schultz’s message was stark and uncompromising: climate change was the elephant in the room that we can no longer ignore. We are two decades away from the tipping point that sees irreversible harm being done to our planet. We will see temperatures rise as much in the next 20 years as they have risen in the last 200.
Current metrics designed to assess carbon footprint data underestimated the situation significantly, Schultz argued.
There were what he called “glaring oversights” guiding mitigation strategies for businesses and there were a host of global threats to the environment that needed immediate, urgent action.
There is the belief here at NPE – one that is very much on display around the show – that plastics can play a significant part in the sustainability cause, helping to reduce the threat of the looming environmental Armageddon outlined by Schultz.
And as the sun shines and the pool beckons at the end of a hard day walking round the exhibition halls, that’s something to hang on to.
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