The Paper and Plastics Recycling Conference is taking place on October 19th and 20th in Chicago. Come and visit AMCS at Booth 2. Contact us to pre-book a meeting.
The industry is in a state of evolution due to zero waste initiatives and the expansion of the circular economy models. New innovations regarding the viability of replacing plastic consumer products with Fiber based solutions are starting to change the landscape of the industry.
In advance of the Paper and Plastics Recycling Conference (PPRC) in Chicago, we are taking the time to interview our colleague Peter Buck on his perspective on future directions of the recycling industry and digitalization.
Peter is a paper, packaging, and recycling veteran with over 30 years in the industry working for Boise Cascade and most recently WestRock, leading IT initiatives across various business segments and lines of business.
I spent eight years in the automotive and air conditioning industries prior to joining Boise Cascade. After 8 years with Cascade and serving as a Corporate Applications Director, I left Boise Cascade to join a privately held paper company in 2000 as their IT Director to help grow their technology.
That private entity was acquired by RockTenn Corporation which became WestRock in 2016. I enjoyed being a senior level IT Director with WestRock since it offered the opportunity to acquire and integrate other companies regarding applications, technology and replacement projects targeted at reducing our application landscape and legacy solutions.
Having successfully introduced AMCS as a solution provider for one of WestRock’s joint venture partnerships in Mexico, I stayed connected to AMCS for the following three years after implementation and collaborated with AMCS regarding their product growth needed for WestRock.
Having been widely successful at WestRock in reducing the number of applications by introducing newer more efficient solutions and technologies, I decided to join AMCS a year ago to help its customers leverage AMCS solutions to reduce inefficiencies, improve integration points and provide a high level of service as we continue to grow the AMCS solutions as well as partnerships with its customers and the industry.
How has the Recycle Industry changed over the past 25 years?
The recycling industry has seen tremendous change through expanded fiber commodity requirements in many industries. Expanding the ability to evolve machinery technologies to reduce dependence on pure raw fiber has helped grow the recycle industry. Also, the ability to improve regeneration of used fiber or “Old Corrugated Containers” to help drive higher production yields and more product offerings has been key.
The evolution of creating stronger fiber grades helped grow product lines in known paper and packaging commodities as well as crossing boundaries into the food industry. This has grown the PPR industry in general by raising awareness of the world view to drive companies towards zero-waste initiatives. Companies that strive to be good stewards of the environment have had a major impact on the recycling industry and specifically the paper recycling industry. Specifically, growth in fiber products to replace plastic products will continue to drive innovation and continued evolution of the circular economy.
What have been the automation challenges specific to the paper recycling industry?
The industry has faced many challenges involving everything from collection to processing to quality dispositioning to end user product evolution and industry specific product creation. To try and isolate any one area would be a disservice to the whole. However, education of the communities and trying to drive better recycling knowledge in terms of separation and acceptance will continue to be key. Reductions in landfills as well as reducing our water and ocean pollution are key drivers that will continue to challenge our world as we drive towards cleaner and better recycling capabilities.
The paper industry needs better collaboration at the government levels to help drive incentives and reduce independence on non-recyclable end products. Continued R&D incentives expanding into non-paper industries such as health care will continue to challenge but play a pivotal role in the evolution and expansion of paper recycling products. Quality of recycled material are key as well as quality dispositioning to remove contaminants, prohibitive and outthrows. Better quality grading mechanisms as well as automated sort capabilities using artificial intelligence will continue to place added stress on suppliers to improve automation and material valuation.
What are the main forces driving change and how does this impact automation?
Sustainability. If the countries of the world continue down the paths we are currently on, and our natural resources continue to diminish at the current rate, the Earth will no longer be able to support our growth and dependence on fossil fuels. As the manufacturing industry has evolved over the last 50 years, the quality and durability of everyday household items has, declined in favor of inexpensive, single-use products. Globally, abundant production leads to abundant waste, and as that waste piles up, we are forced to address this problem with new and innovative methods for reducing the environmental impact of our consumer culture. To combat climate change, we have seen an increase in alternative fuel options and cleaner ways to provide essential needs at the household level. The paper industry can play a key role in educating other industries on how best to grow reusable consumable products, what pitfalls to avoid and how automation can help drive change.
The continued advancement of artificial intelligence and recycled learning are key components to change and adaptation that are just starting to make their way into the industry. Changing mindsets and the illusion of the waste and recycling industry being a dirty blue-collar occupation will continue to be challenging. But companies like WM (previously known as Waste Management), Republic Services, GFL Environmental and Recology will continue to drive home the reality that it is not as simple as waste collections. It is their responsibility to be good stewards of the communities they serve to provide clean solutions that drive zero-waste and improve the circular economy.
How does AMCS fit into the sustainability challenge?
AMCS started out to improve the ability of waste haulers to automate their collection operations by inventing automated weighing capabilities for waste hauling trucks. Fast forward to today when AMCS not only specialized in vehicle technology components and offerings, but we have also grown to be the one, if not the largest software and solution provider for waste and recycling serving the big three industries comprised of paper, metal, and plastics recycling.
AMCS solutions cover complete enterprise level advanced brokerage, export, order-to-cash, and procure-to-pay ERP models. Also offering extensive Fleet Planning, Route Planning and Route Optimization as well as AI enhanced collection that continues to learn and disseminate quality material with each collected service stop.
The AMCS solution has extensive API endpoints and application extensibility that seamlessly integrates with any financial package or legacy ERP solutions such as SAP, Oracle, and IBM to ensure interconnectivity for centralized G/L and tax reporting. Our mobile applications cover everything from in-cab tablets for productivity gains to guided navigation and mobile applications that operate on any android device.
AMCS offers full web portal capability using our Web User Interface as well as providing a customer portal configured with each companies own market brand to service their customers and provide seamless no contact service ordering experiences. AMCS continues to evolve through acquisition and continued investment towards software and technology improvement and growth.
Download the AMCS Platform for Recycling brochure below to learn more.
What are your planned outcomes at the PPRC conference?
To reconnect with colleagues, meet new people who are enthusiastic about recycling and inform whoever will listen as to what AMCS has to offer. I love to inform folks how we can help any organization lower costs, optimize their route planning, increase ROI and improve efficiencies and growth.
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