WASHINGTON-NAPCOR is sticking with No. 1. The National Association of Plastic Container Recovery's Board of Directors on Aug. 29 agreed to halt efforts to expand its membership to high density polyethylene resin suppliers and blow molders.
As it has for the past five years, NAPCOR will continue to promote only the collection and mechanical recycling of the most widely recycled plastic, PET.
The spark plug for the idea, Procter & Gamble Co.'s Tom Rattray, was disappointed with the decision.
``I'm not going to run this up another flagpole for their salute. The resin companies don't seem to have any sense of urgency or priority that HDPE recycling gets and stays on a sound financial footing,'' he said.
Luke B. Schmidt, NAPCOR executive director, said although HDPE bottle makers generally were in favor of adding HDPE to the NAPCOR marketing mix, the lack of resin makers' support tolled the idea's demise.
``A big part of NAPCOR's success has been close cooperation between the PET bottle makers and resin producers,'' Schmidt said.
In a letter to Rattray following the board vote, Schmidt noted ``the board has decided to discontinue further discussion on this subject, including consideration by members of the HDPE industry of NAPCOR's draft HDPE business plan.''
Schmidt declined to discuss the contents of the draft business plan, which would include financial projections of NAPCOR involvement in HDPE marketing and a developmental time line.
Five NAPCOR members made up a subcommittee of the board to study the feasibility of HDPE's inclusion. They included Terry Begley, director of plastics resource management for Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport, Tenn., and current NAPCOR chairman; Dennis Sabourin, vice president of PET processor and recycler Wellman Inc. of Shrewsbury, N.J.; and Ralph Taylor, director of government relations for blow molder Constar International Inc. of Atlanta.
Sources close to NAPCOR said one factor that led to the board's decision was a recent survey that indicates the American Plastics Council's advertising campaign is changing consumers' attitudes about plastic.
The subcommittee reviewed APC statistics gathered by the Washington, D.C.-based Wirthlin Group, which indicated that the public increasingly views the plastics industry as ``associated with providing environmental solutions.''
August 1992 survey results showed only 46 percent of those questioned perceived the industry as providing environmental solutions. In May, that figure rose to 55 percent, which equals the industry's record high of November 1993.
By contrast, paper rose from55 percent to 56 percent in the same period. In the same study, the steel industry stayed the same at 45 percent.
``The perception of plastic has improved to the point that the additional expenditure to promote HDPE collection and recycling was not considered necessary,'' said a plastics processor who asked not to be identified.
Rattray believes a representa-tive group for supporting HDPE recycling still is needed.
``It's almost [cost-effective] now. You can buy baled HDPE, clean it up and sell it below the virgin cycle,'' because ``large investments to process this stuff are largely completed,'' he said.
But he added, ``There continues to be a number of rather small recyclers in general that say they're struggling, and I believe them.''