By Mike Verespej | Plastic News Staff
Washington, DC -- With plastics facing a growing amount of scrutiny on a variety of fronts, the three major trade associations for the industry in North America have put together an alliance to coordinate their efforts to make sure the industry is sending out a clear and consistent message -- and not one that comes across as fractured.
The new North American Plastics Alliance -- which will be formally announced 7 July -- brings together the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., the plastics division of the American Chemistry Council, which includes the Centre for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association in a virtual alliance that initially will focus on four key areas: pellet containment, advocacy, energy recovery and initiatives aimed at getting key stakeholders to look more favourably on plastics.
"This alliance will make us more understandable to our stakeholders," said Greg Wilkinson, interim president and CEO of CPIA in a 6 July phone interview with Plastics News. "It will be easier for our stakeholders to understand who we are, what we're doing and what we care about and it will be easier for us to communicate in a clear, crisp way."
The industry has been hard hit lately in the public eye, as legislators, consumers and non-government organisations have questioned the value of plastics in single-use products that contribute to litter and marine debris.
But Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for ACC, said the three associations did not approach the alliance because of any particular "burning issue."
"The three organisations have worked well together in a number of areas over the last several years," Steve Russell said in a phone interview. "We felt we had an opportunity to coordinate things to make sure we all have the latest facts and access to the newest, most accurate data, and that we can learn from each other.
"The alliance also will help the three organisations provide a more consistent advocacy message." Russell said.
The three association executives said they formed the alliance because they wanted to ensure that the existing cooperation between SPI, ACC and CPIA continued regardless of who was in charge.
"We wanted to formalise the relationships we had to make sure they continue," said Bill Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI, in a phone interview. "We wanted to have long-term continuity for this -- and ensure that the cooperation wasn't just because of the three of us."
Wilkinson agreed: "We felt it was important to put systems in place so there was continuity going forward."
The three associations have joined arms twice in the last four months on environmental stewardship initiatives. They extended the industry's pellet cleanup program, Operation Clean Sweep, into Canada in late June, and in March, they pledged, along with 44 other global plastics associations, including PlasticsEurope, to work in partnership with other groups and organizations to develop solutions to marine debris globally.
The steering committee will include Russell, Carteaux, Wilkinson and one member company representative from each association. Those three are Paul Cohen, president of W. Ralston (Canada) Inc.; who is also the CPIA board chairman; Jay Cude, president and CEO of Coeur Inc.; who is a vice chairman of the SPI board of directors and Glenn Wright, commercial vice president of North America Plastics for Dow Chemical Co., who is also chairman of the ACC Plastics Division operating committee.
Read the full article on Plastics News, A Crain publication.