NPE2012: A Sustainable Trade Show



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“Sustainability” was one of the major themes of the recent NPE 2012 down in Orlando. You may not have seen any banners proclaiming as much, or talked to any exhibitors whose pitch centered on the concept of sustainability, but be assured, it was a major theme. That is because the idea of “sustainability” has matured beyond platitudes about “saving the planet” and “living simply.” Sustainability is now connected to concepts that are much more crucial to American manufacturers. These include things like: a growing U.S. economy, energy independence, and even national security.

And rather than use stale buzzwords like “green” or “sustainable,” the suppliers of plastics machinery and materials focused on the always-popular themes of lower energy costs, waste reduction, and enhanced productivity. But if you think for a moment that these concepts do not fit into the “sustainable” category, then tell me how we are going to sustain any future growth in this industry without them.

The fact is, sustainable is another word for survival. And prosperity is means surviving with a flourish. That’s the kind of sustainability I’m talking about. Cleaner air, cleaner water, and a healthy eco-system are all a part of this as well. But if we do not take care of our economy, then it is likely that none of these goals will be achieved. A healthy environment and a healthy economy are not mutually exclusive. But it will take innovative ideas that lower energy costs, reduce waste, and enhance productivity for us to have it all. And these are the ideas that were on display in Orlando.

On a side note, the fact that the NPE 2012 show was in Orlando instead of Chicago is because, for too many years, the labor unions in Chicago engaged in unsustainable trade practices. Taking care of your customers, rather than taking advantage of them, is another sustainable practice that I witnessed in great abundance down in Orlando.