The prospect of attending a global confab dedicated to finding solutions to the plastic waste problem typically has plastics industry professionals reaching for their flak jackets, given the us-versus-them dynamic that tends to drive these events. Maybe, just maybe, the Plasticity Forum is different. Founder Doug Woodring certainly frames it that way.
The one-day, collaborative “Ted Talks” format eschews a confrontational approach, favoring “sustainability concepts that are relevant to today’s business world,” as the organization states on its website. Twelve such forums have been held in cities around the world since 2012; the next one is scheduled for Bangkok on Nov. 12, 2019, as part of the Sea of Solutions week, convened by the United Nations Environment Program and Coordinating Body on the Seas of Southeast Asia.
Woodring is also the founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance, which is dedicated to reducing plastic pollution on land and water by engaging governments, industry and communities in creating strategic solutions. He has received the Prince’s Prize for Innovative Philanthropy from Prince Albert of Monaco in recognition of his work. Woodring has an impressive resume that shows a sincere, deeply rooted commitment to his cause without vilifying the plastics industry en masse. In fact, Woodring seeks an inclusive approach to “solving the complex plastics puzzle. We need to bring together all of the players to get to a circular system,” he told PlasticsToday.
‘“The Plasticity Forum is not just about recycling, brand identification or fundraising, but a way to bring together many of the sectors in the plastic ‘food chain’ that typically don’t meet each other,” Woodring said. He characterizes the conversations at these events as a “deeper dive” into the plastic sustainability issue than one might encounter at most discussions involving corporate social responsibility. The Plasticity dialogue involves “practitioners across many aspects of the value chain, many of whom end up forming collaborations amongst each other,” said Woodring, stressing that the forum is a business-friendly environment. “We don’t talk about the ‘plastics problem,’ per se. We’re not talking about plastics replacement or bans. We’re all adults here—this is an upstream business-to-business discussion that is looking for ways to prevent plastic from becoming trash and bringing value to its second life,” Woodring told PlasticsToday.
Indeed, brand owners and companies in the plastics chain have embraced the event over the years. The Plasticity Forum is endorsed by the World Plastics Council, and the American Chemistry Council along with companies such as Dow, BASF, Covestro, HP and Coca-Cola have participated at past events. The sponsors and supporters change as the forum moves around the world.
“Industry has woken up to the problem and is now looking at how to deploy solutions,” said Woodring, and the Plasticity Forum sits at that juncture.
For more information about the Bangkok event, visit the website.