Society of Plastic Engineers
Plastics Environmental Division
Mission Statement of SPE, Plastics Environmental Division:
"To Provide and Promote Environmental Stewardship of Plastics Materials."
Scope of SPE Environmental Division
This Division is concerned with all aspects of the recycling, sustainability, bio-degradable , non petroleum based polymers, reclamation, resource recovery, and disposal of plastic materials. Its mission is to foster the advancement of technology in the development of recycled plastics as a valuable raw-material resource and disseminate information in fostering the development of polymers derived from renewable sources. To this end, the Division will promote public and member education on plastics recycling and sustainability through the coordination and dissemination of technical information via local, regional, national and international sessions and conferences, publications, and interaction with other interested national, international, academic and industrial organizations.
Our scope of topics will include but will not be limited to:
- Design for the environment
- Processing technologies
- Non petroleum based polymers
- Bio degradable polymers
- Polymers developed from renewable sources
- Energy efficiencies
- Recovery technologies (mechanical/chemical, etc.)
- Incorporation of reclaimed plastics into all manufacturing streams
- Air, water, soil and other natural resource concerns as affected by the manufacture and use of resins and plastics materials.
Membership in the Plastics Environmental Division
Benifits of Membership:
- Discounts on Conference Registrations
- Division Newsletters
- Access to Publications
- Much Much More!
- New Member - $115
- Renewing Member - $105
- Student - $26
For information on membership, contact:
If you are interested in being a sponsor for the upcoming conferences, contact sponsorship chairs:
Michael Montpetit , GPEC 2011 Chair & Councilor
Buckeye Polymers Inc.
Contact Mike Montpetit
GPEC Global Environmental Plastics Conference history:
This year’s Global Environmental Plastics Conference will be held October 17-19
Atlanta Peach Tree Westin Hotel, Atlanta, GA
There are many Conferences on plastics recycling and sustainability, these days. However, I would like take a moment, to reminisce, the beginnings of these types of conferences.
The GPEC 2011 is this years’ premier plastics-environmental conference addressing plastic recycling, bio-based polymers and environmental sustainability and is sponsored by the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) and its Plastics Environmental Division (PED), a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of ‘plastics environmental’ education and other related activities. It has pioneered such conferences, workshops, seminars, educational activities, newsletters, and awarded scholarships, during the last 20+ years. Their success is a testimonial to the SPE and its Plastics Environmental Division’s foresight in addressing the educational needs in the field of plastics and the environment.
The story begins with the famous ‘garbage barge’, travelling the Atlantic, looking for a place to discharge its cargo of trash containing - among other things, a large amount of plastic wastes. This brought to light, the issue of plastics and its impact on the environment. Awakened by the media uproar, some of the motivated and knowledgeable SPE members, decided to try to educate the public and other plastics industry personnel, with the whole story about plastics. Using organized, facts based information, they touted their benefits, responsible use and proper disposal techniques.
Their vision took roots during the mid ‘80s. Some of the members of the SPE, led by Norman Lee and Ray Ehrig, initiated their efforts to form a group of interested people, with the objective of forming a plastics-recycling SIG (Special Interest Group- a precursor to establishing a Division) within the SPE for the proper education of the practitioners, users and the public regarding the benefits of plastics and their proper use and responsible management of the plastic wastes. Towards that mission, they visualized holding seminars, workshops and conferences on the topic and publishing news-letters and other publications. The first conference towards this goal (called a ‘Retech’ or Regional Technical Conference) was held in Charlotte, NC, in 1988 under the sponsorship of the Virginia-Carolina Section of the SPE, with an attendance of about 400 participants. This conference was followed with several other regional technical conferences on the subject. The initial leaders were Norman Lee, Ray Ehrig, Dennis Denton, Ron Walling and the late Dan Eberhardt. The SPE Recycling Division was formalized in 1991 at the SPE conference, in Toronto. Following that, we ran several more mini-conferences and ‘Retech’s (often called ‘Topcon’s) in various cities within and outside the US. Encouraged by their popularity, the ‘Annual Recycling Conference’ (ARC) events were initiated, under the auspices of the SPE Plastics Recycling Division.
The awareness of green house gas emissions, the limitations of fossil fuels, and the beginnings of the ‘green-environment’ consciousness catalyzed a broader vision by the ‘Division’. The Division expanded its mission to include environmental sustainability and to address the role of plastics in this area, as plastics recycling addressed only one (although critical) issue. The Plastics Recycling Division was appropriately, renamed the ‘Plastics Environmental Division’ and the ‘Annual Recycling Conferences’ evolved into the ‘Global Plastics Environmental Conferences (GPEC)’. The expanded mission of education and promotion of environmental awareness continued and the Division’s activities, proliferated towards accomplishing these goals. Bio-based plastics and energy conservation were included in the mission and became part of the theme of our conferences and publications. Two of the major innovations in GPEC’s programming have been the establishment of the awarding of ‘Annual Environmental Awards’ and the ‘Clean Technology Business’ Competitions. Both of these programs became very popular and are highly regarded. Truly international in nature, the ‘Annual Environmental Awards’ are highly coveted and the nominations originate globally. Similarly, the ‘Clean Technology Business’ competition attracts many nominees with novel sustainable business ideas that highlight emerging, promising ventures. The competition’s winner, besides being awarded cash prizes, receives public recognition and advertisement through the PED’s newsletters and through a >50,000 electronic broadcast list; they are also provided exposure to potential venture capitalists. It is highly gratifying to see how many of the award winners have become successful, economically viable new businesses, improving the environment.
Another important, educational feature of the GPEC has been the establishment of “Student Poster Sessions” during the GPEC, where students are encouraged to submit their work in a ‘poster session ‘ mode presenting their environmentally related polymer-research work and defend them, on a one-on-one basis. Winners are recognized with cash awards and certificates. This also afford an opportunity for potential employers to size up and recruit young, qualified , enterprising students.
These recognitions are a prominent feature of the annual GPEC Conference.
Imitation is the best form of flattery. Now there are a slew of alternative conferences addressing the various aspects of plastics and environmental sustainability, organized by profit and non-profit organizations. We wish them all success; as their existence helps us meet our ultimate aim - the reduction of any adverse impact of plastics on the environment. We believe that the best way to get there is through education and that is what SPE and the PED is all-about. With your help, we can be at the forefront of these efforts.
If you would like to be more educated about the new environmental technologies, and would like to congratulate the 2011 award winners, personally, please consider attending the GPEC 2011 at the Westin Peach Tree in Atlanta, October 17-19, 2011. Visit www.sperecycling.org for more information.
P. M. Subramanian, Ph.D
Director, PED Division/ SPE
Society of Plastics Engineers
13 Church Hill Rd
Newtown, CT 06470