There is a sensible argument to be made for the unification of the American Plastics Council and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Given the common history and needs of the industry and agendas of both organizations, it could be a good match. The boards of directors of both associations apparently are open to the idea and recognize there are benefits to be derived from such a union. While they have acknowledged that, it also is true that some tension exists between APC's resin supplier members and the processors and equipment manufacturers that, along with resin suppliers, make up SPI.
Simply put, political and economic issues occasionally place them in conflict. It may be possible to address some of those issues in a pre-nuptial agreement of sorts. If there is to be one organization, that probably will be necessary.
SPI is correct to feel that one organization should be speaking with one voice for the plastics industry in Washington to obtain maximum effect. As presently constituted, the associations overlap each other in certain arenas and their lobbyists bump into each other at various agencies. Communications breakdowns are inevitable, and resources get wasted.
Both SPI and APC have been effective organizations, particularly the latter in its public relations role to buff the image of the plastics industry. The job has been done so well by APC that as a trade group it has more public recognition than SPI.
APC President Red Cavaney directs a $54 million annual budget. Nearly half of that - $20 million - is spent on national television and print advertising to promote the image of the plastics industry.
Larry Thomas of SPI manages an association that handles the day-to-day interests of processors in Washington. The ad campaign is particularly important to the large resin suppliers that fund APC and whose chemical plants are often the target of regulatory agency attention and loud protests by environmental groups.
The ads have helped everyone in the plastics industry. The next step is for SPI and APC directors to fashion a program of reconciliation that serves the organizations equally well.