Speaker interview: Robert Render, Ravago Recycling Group
Robert Render is our next interview. He is the Business Development Manager Sustainability for Ravago Recycling Group.
Robert looks for new technologies, company capabilities, and sustainable materials that Ravago can commercialize and bring value to customers to assist them in meeting their sustainability goals and those of their customers.
He also works on special projects related to Ravago’s commitment to circularity and decarbonizing operations.
How do you see the industry developing and growing in the next three-to-five years?
The emphasis on sustainability and circularity will only grow over time and be influenced by customer demand, brand goals, and state, local and federal regulation. The industry’s response has to be leadership in providing solutions that address all these factors. It will be a period of new approaches as evidenced by the enormous investment by start-ups and established companies and scaling of those technologies that prove to be economical, efficient, and impactful.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment?
Frankly, the demonization of plastics and willingness of brands and their suppliers to shift away from plastic to less sustainable materials for the optics is troubling. Similarly, regulatory approaches that target plastics even though waste and litter from all sources is the issue. We have to change the conversation and back our messaging with actions. When NGOs belittle the investments being made to address plastic waste as greenwashing, it is disappointing. Their solution is always to ban plastics.
In your view, what has been the most exciting development in the industry in the last couple of years? And why?
There are a number of developments that are exciting and indicative of the industry’s commitment to sustainability:
- Advanced recycling technologies and the investments to develop and bring them to scale in PET, PU, PC, PS, and PP/PE
- Use of renewable materials and waste materials in composites that perform and replace materials under stress like hardwoods
- Uberization of collection of recyclables in smaller locales driven by apps where traditional curbside or drop off systems do not serve
- New additives to compatibilize materials and aid processibility of previously unrecyclable materials
Robert will be talking on the panel for 'Exploring solutions to increase recycling rates, capture more plastics and drive sustainability' at the Plastic Recycling World Expo Conference 2022.