WASHINGTON - Donald B. Shea, the first employee of the agency that became the American Plastics Council and a behind-the-scenes manager of plastics industry promotion for eight years, is leaving for a top position at another Washington association. Shea, 44, said June 17 he will become president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Shipping, a newly formed group that represents ocean-going freight vessels.
``I built CSWS,'' Shea said, in reference to the Council for Solid Waste Solutions, the Washington-based association formed in 1988 to improve the image of plastics. The group later became Partnership for Plastics Prog-ress, changing its focus in early 1992 away from solid waste issues toward plastics' durability, utility and convenience.
Less than a year later, PPP became APC, following extensive consumer research to find a better name.
Shea was the highest-ranking APC executive until September 1994, when the APC governing board selected Red Cavaney, then chief executive officer of the American Forest and Paper Association, as the group's first permanent president and chief executive.
Shea assumed the title of group vice president. In the ensuing 21 months, Shea said working with Cavaney ``has been a privilege.''
APC now has 27 members and an annual budget of $53 million.
According to Chamber spokes-man Joe Cox, the 22-member U.S. Chamber of Shipping begins operation when Shea comes on board, following the dissolution of its predecessor, the American Insti-tute of Merchant Shipping.
The chamber announced Shea's selection June 7.
``It's an opportunity for me, which includes the potential to help an industry going through a transition,'' Shea said, noting that the plastics industry was in the throes of transition when he was hired to head CSWS in May 1988.
The group was formed in the wake of a landfill scare touched off when a garbage barge from New York was unable to find a place to offload its cargo on the East Coast.
The barge became a symbol for the country's refusal to come to terms with its solid waste, and it ignited calls to reduce the amount of trash going to landfills. Disposable plastics were frequent targets of the attacks.