For a few short days, the Arkansas Pollution and Ecology Department came close to having the authority to change the resin identification code used on plastics packaging sold in that state. But the plan was rescinded after state authorities met with officials from the American Plas-tics Council and some resin sup-pliers.
On Jan. 25 the state's House of Representatives approved a bill allowing the Pollution and Ecology Department to make changes to the code.
Although the language of the bill was general enough that it would have enabled the state to drop the resin code, that was never the aim of the bill, said agency deputy director Jim Shirrell.
``The point was not to change anything, or to change the system of labeling plastics,'' he said. ``It was to make it so that any changes developed by the plastics industry itself could be made in Arkansas, without having to be placed before the Legislature as statute.''
He added, ``After meeting with the American Plastics Council and several companies in the resin industry, we decided that it was not the thing to do.''
Shirrell said no pressure was exerted on bill backers to remove it from further consideration.
``We were attempting to respond to industries' needs here in our state,'' Shirrell said. ``We felt that being able to make whatever changes might be promoted by the industry in a quick and effective way by the agency would do that,'' he said.
``On the other hand, if the industry wants to keep the code and any changes in the hands of the Legislature, that is how we can serve them best, so we will talk to the sponsor and suggest pulling down the bill before it would be sent to the other chamber.''
``We have consistently supported uniformity in the resin identification field,'' said Jimmy Hendricks, spokesman for the Washington-based APC. ``We are not in favor of any proposal which would have the potential to disrupt the uniformity that exists in 39 states.''
Debate focusing on the code, which divides all plastic containers into seven resin categories, was ongoing most of last year, with some in the industry and environmental groups favoring scrapping the system, and others calling for its continuation.