FOAM RECYCLERS UNIT PLANS BREAK FROM SPI

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WASHINGTON — The Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers has decided to leave the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and form its own trade association to give itself more control over spending.

Many AFPR members ``did not feel SPI provided much service for the fees'' and the group wanted to have control of its spending, rather than paying dues to a central SPI coffer and then to have it given back, said Robert Mallon, chairman of the AFPR operating committee and vice president of Marko Foam Products Inc. in Hayward, Calif.

SPI announced a restructuring in January that would reduce dues for processors and let firms shift as much as one-third of their core dues to individual units such as AFPR as part of the group's attempt to expand membership, but the changes were not enough for the 50 AFPR members.

``The thing that bothers us most is that we still have no control over our dues,'' Mallon said. ``We want more control over our budget and our staff.''

The AFPR operating committee decided unanimously to leave, he said.

SPI President Larry Thomas said AFPR's rejection of the dues and structural changes SPI made this winter and AFPR's desire to split do not signal more trouble for SPI because AFPR is a small and focused group.

``For the most part, our business units understand the need for having a strong overall trade organization,'' he said.

The break was not acrimonious and AFPR in time may rejoin Washington-based SPI, Mallon said. Details such as AFPR's exact dues structure are not worked out, but there should be no signficant increase, Mallon said. He declined to provide details about the financial impact of the decision.

The group will remain headquartered in Washington; Betsy de Campos, director of environmental affairs for SPI's Polystyrene Packaging Council, will become the group's director, Mallon said. De Campos splits her time between AFPR and the packaging council. Decisions on other staff positions have not been made, he said.

AFPR had proposed a compromise that would have kept it in SPI, but only paying for specific services. Thomas said that would weaken SPI and prevent it from having enough resources to be both an ``insurance policy'' with staffing to monitor national issues and back up business units when needed.

``It leads to cherry picking and there is no stability,'' he said.