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Winter Event Is a Texas-Sized Success!

“Everything is bigger in Texas,” they say, and the PSI Chapter Winter Event—held Jan. 24 in Austin, Texas—was a huge success, exceeding even the chapter’s high expectations. Based on final registration figures, 65 people attended the event’s meetings and workshops, while 130 participated in the tours and dinner. The event then wrapped up in style—and in tune—with an after party that featured a musical duo.

“The PSI Chapter couldn’t have asked for a better turnout at its first Winter Event,” said PSI Chapter President Leonard Zeid of Midland Davis Corp. “The educational content, networking opportunities, and social functions made this event an invaluable—and fun—experience for everyone there.”


Two workshops were the centerpiece of the Winter Event schedule. One session examined the containerboard market—and the paper recycling industry in general—from 2020 and beyond, with Jim Keefe of Recycling Today Media Group moderating the speaker slate of Debbie Jones of Deutsche Bank, Kelly McNamara of Numera Analytics, and Hannah Zhao of RISI. Offering a few highlights from Deutsche Bank’s 2019 containerboard and boxboard outlook survey, Jones noted that expectations for U.S. box demand for 2019 and for containerboard prices are more pessimistic relative to prior years. Export demand expectations, meanwhile, are mixed, with foreign-exchange trends, tariffs, and global slowing cited as reasons demand would decline, she said. As for containerboard capacity, about 28 percent of survey respondents believe the industry can absorb capacity slated to come online over the next one to three years, but about 33 percent say this is unclear. Also commenting on capacity, only 6 percent think there will be excess supply in 2019, but 33 percent are worried about 2020 and beyond, Jones said. In Zhao’s presentation, she emphasized that “Chinese demand will slow with or without the [recovered paper] ban, but China will continue to impact U.S. markets significantly through its direct imports of [recovered paper] and its investments in paper and recycled pulp projects outside of China.”


The second workshop featured Bill Moore and Susan Cornish of Moore & Associates, who examined the effects of e-commerce on corrugated demand and paper recycling. While online retail sales are predicted to account for 25 to 30 percent of total retail sales by 2025 or 2030, the volume of box shipments isn’t growing nearly as fast, they noted. Though corrugated remains the most important material for secondary packaging, alternative shipping options designed to reduce packaging are gaining ground. Notably, the apparent recovery of OCC in the United States declined from 92.9 to 88.8 percent from 2016 to 2017, and the OCC content of mixed paper is rising due to more corrugated in homes vs. at retailers, they said.

At the PSI Chapter meeting during the Winter Event, U.S. Postal Service representatives provided an update on the makeup of the USPS paper grade Undeliverable Bulk Business Mail (UBBM), and they invited feedback from attendees on that grade. The representatives also reviewed their “backhaul recycling” collection systems as well as USPS’s more than $33 million dollars in capital equipment investment at over 175 recycling hubs around the country.

The social portion of the Winter Event began with tours of the Texas Disposal Systems MRF and Exotic Game Ranch in Creedmore, Texas, south of Austin. TDS’s MRF is “an amazing facility and provided an excellent backdrop for networking and discussion,” said Jim Keefe. After the tours, attendees gathered in the site’s pavilion for a Texas barbecue dinner. “The Exotic Game Ranch was AMAZING, and the BBQ event was wonderful,” said another event attendee. “Nice setting, great food, and engaging company.”

The Winter Event wrapped up with an afterparty at The Driskill hotel in Austin’s 6th Street arts and entertainment district. Outlier, a duo led by guitarist, pianist, and vocalist Anthony Garcia, provided musical entertainment at the after party.

“I thought all the presentations were full of good info, and the social events in the evening were really nice,” Susan Cornish said. As Paper Division Chair Linda Leone of WestRock concluded, “PSI’s Winter Event offered take-home value and memorable experiences for all attendees. We now can look forward to applying the lessons we learned and the professional connections we made to our businesses to achieve even greater success.” 

Winter Event photos courtesy of Rachel H. Pollack, Scrap Magazine.

Bernie Lee of ISRI contributed content to this report.

***The PSI Chapter thanks the following sponsors for generously supporting the PSI Chapter Winter Event***

Balcones Resources
(after party at The Driskill hotel)

Pratt Industries
(speaker sessions)

Recycling Today Media Group
(speaker sessions)

Texas Disposal Systems
(MRF and Exotic Game Ranch tours)

Texas Recycling
(PSI Chapter/Paper Division BOD dinner)

Van Dyk Recycling Solutions
(MRF tour and Texas BBQ dinner)

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