By: Mike Verespej
April 4, 2012
ORLANDO, FLA. (April 4, 7:40 a.m. ET) — More than 50 Canadian companies have pledged to abide by the industry-developed rules for Operation Clean Sweep for pellet containment since the U.S.-developed program was introduced in that country inJuly.
That is just one example of how the two major plastics groups in the U.S. and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association are leveraging off the best practices of each since the North American Plastics Alliance was formed to coordinate their efforts.
The idea behind NAPA was to make sure the plastics industry is sending out a clear and consistent message—not one that is fractured.
NAPA includes CPIA, the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the plastics division of the American Chemistry Council. On its onset, the group has focused on four key areas: pellet containment, advocacy, energy recovery and consumer education initiatives aimed at getting key stakeholders to look more favorably on plastics.
At a Monday question-and-answer session at NPE2012, Steve Russell, president of ACC’s plastics division, said the associations are not creating a combined pool of resources, but creating their own pools to communicate and do outreach in a coordinated fashion.
“The three organizations have a long history of working together,” he said. “We are making sure that we are aligned with the communication messages we send.”
For example, new CPIA President and CEO Carol Hochu said her association was repurposing for the Canadian market messages initially developed by the ACC in its Plastics Make It Possible campaign.
“We had 58 million positive media impressions” from 14 messages that were repurposed last year and “13 million positive impressions from three messages that have been used this year,” she said. “We repurpose them to explain for Canada how plastic plays an important role in our lives.”
One issue that the three organizations are working to develop is the need and opportunity—as an option to landfill—to turn plastics into energy if all recycling efforts have been exhausted.
“There is a preference for every form of recycling before landfilling, and that include plastics-to-fuel,” said Russell. “Each of us have put a toe into the effort.”
“Our primary focus of energy recovery is recycling, but once recycling is exhausted, there still is an opportunity to avoid landfilling by turning plastics into fuel,” said Greg Wilkinson, former president and CEO of CPIA and now a consultant to the Canadian plastics association.
“There are more people and more legislators interested, but the biggest challenge we still face is the view of how plastics are seen after they are used,” said Wilkinson. “More people are seeing that is an opportunity and it doesn’t pay to bury it. But too many people still see it as waste, and not a resource and we have to change that.”
Overall, what is most important, said Russell, is that the three associations “find ways to collaborate and engage in information-sharing so that we can cost effectively address issues” that affect the entire plastics industry.
Hochu agreed. “Many of our issues cross the Canadian-U.S. border and our collaboration through NAPA has enabled all three organizations to focus our resources where they can make a difference for the North American manufacturing industry.”
The NAPA steering committee includes Russell, Hochu, SPI president and CEO Bill Carteaux, 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 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.