A $500,000 campaign by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the American Plastics Council to improve plastics' image reflects a ``midcourse correction'' of the Washington trade associations' previous efforts, said Ronald G. Bruner, SPI's vice president of communications. Bruner said Dec. 11 that the revised initiative, developed with the assistance of a New York public relations agency, will place greater emphasis on community relations. The program is an outgrowth of a previous ``industry mobilization plan'' intended to counter negative perceptions of plastics and proposed regulatory actions by the Clinton administration to restrict chlorine use.
Funding for the current plan is allocated to SPI's 1995-96 fiscal year, which began June 1.
The earlier effort focused on the legislative rather than grass-roots arena, Bruner explained. He said research indicates SPI members feel community relations work needs to be pursued more vigorously.
``It's all about trying to build goodwill,'' Bruner said of the realignment.''
The groups hope the effort will help the industry attract better employees. Bruner said SPI also wants to involve other industry organizations eventually, such as the Society of Plastics Engineers of Brookfield, Conn.
``I haven't been invited to participate'' in SPI's program, Michael R. Cappelletti, SPE's executive director, said in a telephone interview Dec. 13. ``But I would absolutely consider it.''
Cappelletti said his organization presently is working with APC on a ``teach the teachers'' effort associated with the National Plastics Center and Museum to help educate elementary instructors about plastics.
Bruner said the SPI program will shift its focus from trying to convert the masses to building on the grass-roots efforts of members to improve relations with neighbors and public officials.
The association has established a toll-free, fax-on-demand document resource center known as Plastics Today to provide industry data, including state-specific economic information. The center's number is (800) 774-4614. It currently offers a menu (accessed by dialing extension 2000) of about 100 documents, though Bruner said SPI hopes to double that number.
The association also offers materials to members to educate employees about the importance of the plastics industry. Bruner said SPI research has shown that the views of the industry's rank and file usually ``mirror the general public's often-negative views of plastic.''
Jeffrey Gibb, environmental manager at Landis Plastics Inc., said the Chicago Ridge, Ill., injection molded packaging company shared its community relations experience and observations with SPI and APC.
``We can touch a lot of people,'' said Gibb, referring to the multiplying effect of individuals and companies who engage others in ways that reflect well on the industry.