New bag alliance leader ready to defend plastic

By Jeremy Carroll
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: October 3, 2013 2:41 pm ET
Updated: October 3, 2013 2:52 pm ET

Image By: Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Lee Califf

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Sustainability, Grocery bags, Packaging
Companies & Associations Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.

After retiring from Alcoa Inc., Lee Califf needed a hip replacement. And after his recovery was completed, he was itching to get back to work.

"Once I recovered from that, I was ready to get back and do something else," he said. "I'm too young to be actually retired. I wanted to get back to work."

Califf, 60, has been hired as executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, an advocacy group for the plastic bag industry. The alliance operates as a self-funded group under the Society of Plastics Industry Inc. umbrella. Califf replaces David Asselin, who was recently named president and CEO of Travelers Aid International.

Califf started with APBA on Sept. 3.

Califf is no stranger to Washington D.C., having started his career as a legislative assistant to former Sen. John Warner, R-Va. Califf spent 13 years with Reynolds Metals Co. before it was bought by Alcoa. Califf worked for Alcoa for another 13 years, most recently as the company's vice president of U.S. government affairs.

"There are a lot of similarities with the aluminum industry and a lot of differences," Califf said about his previous career and his new one, pointing to recycling as a major similarity. "Recycling is such an important part of everything that we do. It's another material and it has to be dealt with it post use."

Recycling of plastic bags is one of the several key aspects of APBA's argument against bag bans.

"There are post-use questions about what happens to bags," Califf said. "Banning them or taxing them doesn't do anything to solve that problem. We need to be a little more creative in how we go about looking at the overall issue and our approach to it."

He pointed to those working in the plastic bag manufacturing industry, some 30,000 people.

"They are all really good jobs. They support their families and communities," Califf said. "There are a lot of good things about this industry. They produce a product that most people find extremely useful and like to use."

APBA celebrated a major political win this year after it helped to beat back a statewide ban on plastic bags in California. But major fights in New York City and again in California are expected again.

"The biggest hurdle is that most of these initiatives are based on information which turns out to be totally incorrect," Califf said. "One of the first things I learned, that bags are a very, very small part of the waste stream and by banning them you aren't doing much of anything to the litter problem. I think we need to really work on the true facts and a lot of the research about the issue before the public and before state legislatures, city council members or who ever might be looking at legislative solutions."

Califf said he thinks he'll bring a new perspective to the position and is looking forward to bringing in experts and various stakeholders to help think of new and creative solutions to challenges facing the industry.

SPI President and CEO William Carteaux pointed to Califf's experience and previous success.

"Lee's government affairs experience, particularly his strength in building and communicating with grassroots networks, will be an excellent asset for APBA as he advocates on behalf of the plastic bag industry," Carteaux said in a statement. "On both the corporate and association level, he has a proven track record of establishing strong relationships with industry allies and public officials that have led to positive results."


Comments

New bag alliance leader ready to defend plastic

By Jeremy Carroll
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: October 3, 2013 2:41 pm ET
Updated: October 3, 2013 2:52 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Wipak opens flexible packaging factory in China

November 28, 2014 9:58 am ET

Wihuri Packaging Oy has opened a new flexible packaging plant in Changshu, China.    More

New liquid colorants for PET packaging released

November 28, 2014 6:00 am ET

PolyOne Corp. has launched a line of new liquid colorants for PET packaging in personal care and cosmetic products.    More

Image

RPC Group buying Iceland's Promens

November 27, 2014 8:46 am ET

In a major acquisition that combines two rigid packaging companies with international footprints, RPC Group plc has signed a 399 million euro ($497...    More

Image

Proposed green building standard delayed until late 2016

November 27, 2014 6:00 am ET

Anyone not ready for a new green building standard — one that may include more favorable ratings for plastics — is getting something of a ...    More

Image

Group backs plastic window alternatives

November 27, 2014 6:00 am ET

A new industry working group is figuring out how to help plastic break through the glass ceiling.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events