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Blog September 2021 Updated July 2023

9 Reasons Why Plastic Recyclers need a specialist ERP solution to automate their business

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Conor Dowd

AMCS Global Head of Marketing

No matter the scope and size of your organization, plastics recycling operations are complex and intricate.

Your list of daily challenges is never-ending as you look to master buying, selling, logistics, quality management, production processing, invoicing, regulatory compliance and finance.

With so much at stake, a generic ERP or Financial package will just not meet your requirements and instead could lead you into a costly trap of customizations and add-ons where you are unlikely to get all of the required capabilities to master the complexity and grow your business.

The following are the nine main reasons why you need a specialist recycling ERP to automate your business.

1. Reverse Logistics

The reverse logistic model of collecting plastic can be complex and varied. Plastic can be collected in a variety of containers. The loads can consist of multiple polymer types collected from multiple customers. This variability is challenging to plan automate and is beyond the capability of most generic ERP solutions that are not designed to support logistics where you need to be able to deal with service scenarios like dropping, collecting and exchanging containers on the same route.

2. Scale Management

Generic ERP systems are designed for the reception of standardised feedstocks into warehouses.

With plastic recycling however, variable feedstocks are received via a truck scales and efficient scale operation is critical with requirements such as the need for rapid breakdown of either individual container and bulk loads, interfaces to both truck and platform  scales  to avoid redundant re-keying of data and the inspection of loads where the expected and actual polymer description may vary.

3. Granular Material Descriptions & Properties

A specialist recycling solution will allow the accurate and granular recording of polymer material types including the recording of plastic descriptions and associated properties such as grade, density, colour and melt flow index.  The capturing of this granular level of detail can be the difference in securing your margin as you buy, transform and sell your polymers.

4. Quality Inspection

With generic ERP, there is no expectation that an inspection process is needed to ensure that the actual feedstock material composition and quality conforms with what was expected. This is a common case in plastics recycling where feedstock can be upgraded and downgraded and this needs to be recorded empirically and shared with the supplier as it may have a financial impact on the amount paid. This quality or grading process needs to start in the yard and needs to be fully integrated with your back-office operations.

5. Inventory. Cost & Margin Management

Plastic recyclers need to have full visibility on the cost, status, volume, location and margin on their inventory. Inventory management for plastic recycling can be quite complex as material is transformed and can be upgraded or downgraded. It also requires powerful mobile yard applications with barcoding support. A specialist recycling solution will provide this level of automation and visibility.

6. Contract Management and Brokerage

Plastic recycling demands the flexibility to create contracts of all types: purchase and sales contracts with purchase orders and automated pricing including links to market indices with cost offsets.

It is common for plastic recyclers to link buy and sell agreements (brokerage) where they wish to track the costs of the feedstock material from the supplier through the transformation process to the sale price. This provides full visibility on costs and margin.

Only a specialist recycling solution can provide this level of granularity and business insight.

7. Flexible Billing

Generic ERP cannot easily manage in an integrated manner common billing processes of plastic recyclers that combine both Accounts Payable and Receivable functions. A simple example is where you may wish to charge a supplier of plastic for transport and rental of the container and then pay them a per tonne rebate for the material collected. A specialist recycling solution will be able to manage this scenario and many more including regrading of material with financial claims and repricing etc.

8. Regulatory Compliance

Plastic recycling requires specific regulatory documentation such as Bills of Landing, Transfer Notes, Delivery Confirmations, VGM certificates and packaging notes, these any many more tickets and reports can only be provided by a specialist recycling solution.

9. Container Management

Most plastic recycling companies invest in a significant number and type of containers to collect and store customer plastic and they need to keep track of these valuable container assets both on and off site as well as potentially charging rent for them.  A generic ERP overlooks this important area.

AMCS is the market leader in the provision of automation solutions to over 2,750 waste and recycling companies worldwide.

The AMCS Platform is a unique SaaS-based enterprise-grade software solution designed to automate all aspects of a recycling operation including logistics, scale operations, contract management, invoicing, quality management, production, inventory tracking, demand planning and finance.

We understand the challenges and requirements of the plastics recycling industry and have the proven solution, industry expertise and advanced technology to take the automation of your operations to the next level.

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