A man stood in the front of the room, holding a 12 by 12" card that looked like the most vibrant swatch I had seen. I wondered if he used the palette to select other colors for some of his art projects I could see surrounding him, or if the card represented an unusual new work. As he began to explain about the card, I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking. He spoke of the brightness of the white, the soothing simplicity of an all-white tile. What was he thinking? We could all see the tile was covered with squares in hundreds of colors.

Then, he paused, and said, “With art, as with life, it can be difficult to communicate effectively. We can spend hours looking at the same thing, describing very different experiences. To improve your communication,” he said, then paused and turned around the card as he concluded, “try to see it from the other person’s perspective.” We all now stared at a white blank tile.

I was reminded of this moment when I reviewed “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made,” a cradle-to-grave global study of plastics published in Science Advances (http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782). In it, researchers Roland Geyer, Jenna R. Jambeck and Kara Lavender Law look at plastics production since 1950 and its impact on the world environment. Among their findings, they assert: “We estimate that 8300 million metric tons (Mt) as of virgin plastics have been produced to date. As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9 percent of which had been recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and 79 percent was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.”

Nearly 70 years after plastics exploded into widespread production around 1950, there’s virtually no chance that we’ll give up plastics. At the same time, that’s a lot of waste. From one perspective, the abysmal rate of recycling nearly precludes converting discarded plastics into perennially repurposed materials. Yet consider another story that crossed my desk: a startup in Indiana is seeking funding to commercialize processes to recycle algae that has been used for things such as wastewater treatment or flue gas remediation. Yes, you read that right (and you can read it here: http://www.process-heating.com/articles/92350): they seek to convert waste algae into bio-based chemicals, biofuels and bioplastics.

Perspective is also important when comparing and contrasting suppliers and their products. In this issue, we have an article that can help you do that.

Turn to page 36 for our annual Equipment Overview on Burners, which offers a side-by-side comparison manufacturers of fuel-fired burners for industrial process. Like all of our Equipment Overviews (always available at http://www.process-heating.com/directories), the Equipment Overview appears in print and online. Online, our RFP Builder feature allows you to search, compare, evaluate and request information from multiple suppliers with just a few clicks. On any page in the Equipment Overview, click the plus sign next to those suppliers you wish to add to your distribution list. Once you've selected the companies you are interested in, click on the Submit An Info Request button to create a prepopulated form. Fill in your contact information and send it. If you realize you want to add more companies, just click on the Add Suppliers button in the contact form. All responses from suppliers will be sent directly to you, or the contacts you designate.

Elsewhere in this issue, you can learn about topics as varied as heat soaking tempered glass to prevent inclusions from causing spontaneous breakage; how the Industrial Internet of Things uses automation technology to help reduce energy use in thermal processing operations; how modern instrumentation and combustion controls can improve fired heater performance; an overview of ethylene and propylene glycol and their similarities and differences when used as hydronic fluids; and a study to evaluate the oxidation response of some mineral oil heat transfer fluids vs. a synthetic aromatic-based heat transfer fluid for high temperature applications.