The 2021 Geosynthetics Virtual Conference has come and gone, but not before providing access to all the recorded content through May 1. With the unlimited access that the virtual platform provided, attendees were able to listen to presentations that provided up to 40 professional development hours (PDHs), an advantage not normally available through a regular in-person conference. While that access was a huge benefit, my suspicion is that all of us are longing for a real face-to-face, in-person exhibition and conference (keep watching for updates, as hopefully conditions will improve enough to hold live meetings). Be sure to mark your calendars for Feb. 5–8, 2023, when the 2023 Geosynthetics Conference and International Erosion Control Association (IECA) Annual Conference and Expo will co-locate again, in Kansas City, Mo.
While the 2021 Geosynthetics Virtual Conference was unfolding, the industry faced another issue, that of the rapidly rising price of resins. The situation reached a stage of concern that prompted Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) to issue a press release titled “Geosynthetic prices increase due to spike in polypropylene resin costs” (tinyurl.com/ResinCosts). The press release includes details from sources like The Plastics Exchange Market Report, “At least a half-dozen resin producers have experienced Force Majeure conditions, creating severe shortages for both polyethylene and polypropylene resins. Consequently, spot resin trading has been hyperactive as resin processors, many on supply allocation, have flocked to the spot market as they scramble to procure material.” The press release reported that the worldwide demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield against the COVID-19 outbreak has, in turn, caused the demand for spun-bond and needlepunched nonwovens to increase dramatically. In the press release, the Geosynthetic Materials Association’s executive director, Fred C. Chuck, noted, “As the economy slowed, the number of vehicular miles driven around the world has plummeted, causing oil refineries to scale back on production. This has had the side effect of lowering production of propylene, the basic feedstock of the geosynthetics raw material polypropylene.” Hopefully, by the time you read this, resin prices will have stabilized.
GMA’s spring schedule would normally include a fly-in Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., and one or two state agency visits. As this year has progressed, we have been forced to delay these in-person visits until August at the earliest due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, GMA has been active in virtual meetings, developing relationships with the new Congress and maintaining the relations built over the past years of legislative effort. Stay tuned for announcements of our Fall 2021 Lobby Day and state and local visits.