On September 3rd and 4th, conference guests convened at TOMRA’s premises to focus on an effective collaboration of all key stakeholders and discussed emerging practices to face and prepare for challenges in global waste management.
Tom Eng, Senior Vice-President, Head of TOMRA Recycling, and Fabrizio Radice, Vice President, Head of Global Sales and Marketing Recycling, welcomed 54 guests from 31 companies and 17 countries to TOMRA’s two-day Integrators Conference. In the first presentation of the day, they jointly explained the role TOMRA plays in the circular economy and how it drives change when it comes to an acceleration of the recycling industry and the development of a more circular and sustainable environment. Describing TOMRA’s role, Fabrizio Radice added: “A circular economy and the responsible treatment of our resources cannot be restricted to a couple of companies only. The entire value chain has to act. Part of the value chain, consisting of you, we just welcomed here.” With this clear statement, Radice highlighted that collaboration is key when solving sustainability challenges and that TOMRA places emphasis on strong and reliable partnerships leading to a change. To give the attending integrators an overview of what to expect from TOMRA as partner, Tom Eng gave comprehensive insight into TOMRA’s structure, its 2020 strategy with state-of-the-art technologies and new market segments to be examined.
Thereafter, Volker Rehrmann, Executive Vice-President, Head of TOMRA Recycling/Mining and Circular Economy, presented the current resource crises and underlined that although people have started to view plastics as entirely negative, its various benefits are often unknown and it is, in fact, a versatile material and part of the solution to global challenges consisting in ending hunger, for instance. To name an example, wrapping cucumbers with protective plastic proves to be much greener if recycled after consumption than growing new cucumbers to replace those that have spoiled due to poor protection, Rehrmann clarified. Since momentarily only 2 % of plastic is recycled in a closed loop and plastic production is expected to increase even further, TOMRA targets to capture 40% of plastic for recycling and achieving 30% closed loop recycling by 2030 as in effect, “the problem is not plastic as such but the way we treat it”, Rehrmann noted. Continuing being a key player in the circular economy is high on the agenda for TOMRA in 2020.
This being said, Paolo Trucco, Professor of the PhD Program in Management Engineering at Politecnico Milano School of Management, portrayed the enormous environmental impacts plastic waste has and that recycling practices are still limited on grounds of globally mismanaged plastic waste generation. Although the establishment of appropriate waste management infrastructures might be a first approach, a full solution to the problem can only be seen in a truly circular economy, whose successful implementation requires the support and cooperation of all stakeholders along the value chain. With stakeholders being crucial, he further shared emerging practices and business strategies of brand owners, producers and plant integrators. Their practices are now mainly focused on sustainability, developing new technologies to promote both collection and recycling, as well as producing plastic packaging that is restorative and regenerative by design, just to name a few.
As a transition and an improvement of recycling efficiency can only be realized with the appropriate technology, TOMRA’s sorting solutions that effectively contribute to this development and enable the optimization of resource recovery and the minimization of waste, were given another important focus at the conference. On both days, Valerio Sama, Vice President, Head of Product Management TOMRA Recycling, and Ralph Uepping, Vice President, Head of Technology TOMRA Recycling, presented field-proven technologies and gave an outlook to products expected be launched in 2020.
To get even more out of a sorting plant, Felix Flemming, Vice President, Head of Digital TOMRA Sorting, described how accessing information with TOMRA INSIGHT unlocks new opportunities, reduces downtimes and operational costs but maximizes throughput and enables sorting to target quality at the same time.
After the product presentations, TOMRA’s technologies were shown in action, as conference guests were guided through TOMRA’s pioneering test center facility. Stopping at demonstration stations, extensive information on new and established TOMRA technology were given by the responsible expert before machines were started to demonstrate their sorting capability live. Enthusiastic and curious to learn more about the technologies, attendees had the chance to ask challenging questions on the product features during the subsequent Q&A session.
Further insights and expertise were shared during a lively panel discussion. Under the topic of “Making the Future Work – Together” a lively panel discussion broaching diverse subjects such as market developments in the recycling industry, TOMRA’s market leading position, the role big data is playing in the recycling industry and many more.
Besides various presentations and live demonstrations, networking did not fall short. Conference delegates were given ample opportunity to get together to enjoy valuable opportunities to further stimulate the exchange of knowledge.
Having spent two inspiring and very informative days together, Fabrizio Radice closed the conference by stating that: “Business is like a chocolate box. You never know what you get. But with TOMRA you always chose the right box.”