Plasticity 2013: exploring innovation in the plastics industry and beyond


After the tour

Plasticity delegates enjoy tour of sophisticated MBA Polymers plant in Guangzhou, China

The Plasticity 2013 conference in Hong Kong was incredibly popular and went down a storm on Twitter, with people getting involved worldwide. It was the second ever Plasticity event, following hot on the heels of the inaugural event at last year’s Rio+20 Earth Summit.

Speaking on the importance of entrepreneurs, policy-makers and business leaders meeting to discuss the dynamic business and economic opportunities available through recycling plastic waste, event founder Doug Woodring said “It’s a dialogue that’s not happening enough around the world. Hong Kong, for example, creates at least 1,700 tonnes of waste plastic per day, yet with an under-organised infrastructure to capture the value of this waste stream.”

With more than 280m tonnes of plastic produced globally and only an estimated 10% recycled each year, creating a thriving world recycling market is vital. There are many top notch ideas, as showcased by brands such as Ecover and the entrepreneurial Miniwiz (the Taiwanese consumer products company), but how can such initiatives be brought to scale? This was the question on the lips of the 200 leading practitioners attending the one-day Plasticity event. And with that in mind, where are the industry pioneers heading and how can we learn from them?

Together, the delegates shared ideas, insight and best practice from their experiences in plastic supply chains, procurement, and post-consumer waste management. And importantly, they sought partners and collaborators to make their ventures a reality.

Our own Mike Biddle presented, outlining the still cavernous differences between steel and plastic recycling rates, despite plastics being far more frequently used and economical, and delegates were also offered the opportunity to visit the sophisticated MBA Polymers plant in Guangzhou, China.

Appreciation of the tour

The appreciation for the tour presented to Mr. Cai

Mike said: “Since the Plasticity event last year, a ‘Perfect Storm’ for plastics recycling has begun to brew and it’s a great opportunity to bring people together via the Plasticity Forum in Hong Kong to discuss how to navigate the storm to maximise opportunities to reduce plastics waste.”

And indeed, over the past year, lots of factors are starting to favour a growing recycling market and boost hopes of a move to a circular economy. For example, China is clamping down on waste being sent indiscriminately to dump on its shores, and the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just allowed recyclers to ‘mine’ plastics from the 5m tonnes of shredder residue landfilled annually in the US. Meanwhile, global bioplastics capacity is projected to grow almost five-fold by 2016, and community recycling rates are gradually improving in certain countries.

The business opportunity for the circular economy is estimated at 290 – 490 bn euros for Europe alone, Plasticity believes, while in the US, an annual materials saving of $7.3 bn and a profit of $2.4bn – approximately $200 per tonne of plastic collected – could be achieved by separating and recycling the five major high volume plastics.

Success stories were also shared, including the London Olympics zero-waste policy, and the Taiwanese approach to reuse. With Hong Kong’s landfills due to reach capacity in the next decade, these lessons could prove intensely valuable. On a corporate note, Unilever’s $256m savings realised via efficient use of materials and plastic waste capture (since 2008), was shared as an example of sustainable business in action.

For more on the conference, please visit: