SEATTLE - A newly organized group of nine plastics manufacturers is developing an educational program in Seattle for technicians. The Recycling Technology Assistance Partnership, which may begin this summer or fall, is modeled after a program in Portland, Ore.
Geoff Levear, one of the founders of the Portland program, has been hired as a consultant to help launch the Se-attle project.
The initiative for the program came from a Washington state agency, the Clean Washington Center, one of whose concerns is the recycling of plastics. Joseph Divinagracia, the agency's executive director, said the primary purpose of the center is to expand the market for recycled materials, including plastics.
But, Divinagracia said his agency discovered that ``one of the key restraints keeping plastics manufacturers from using new materials is the lack of trained technicians.''
A year and a half ago, the agency got a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the Commerce Department, to establish RETAP. The agency used money from the grant to hire Levear. Since September, Levear has met five times with nine plastics manufacturers. They have outlined a curriculum for a one-year, once-a-week course for employees of the sponsoring companies. They expect 25 employees to start training this summer or fall.
Ron Grulich of the Clean Washington Center, who was also a past vice president of the local chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers, said the training program will be held at High Line Community College in Des Moines, Wash., a Seattle suburb.
Grulich said his agency has stepped into the background of the project, but wants the curriculum to include recycling.
``It's important because a lot of times people on the floor will say that recycled material is just junk,'' he said.
Divinagracia added that the program, ultimately, will accommodate new hires in the industry, as well as those already employed.