CHIGAGO—Four industry groups are considering forming a coalition on recycling mandates, according to officials with the American Plastics Council.
APC officials stressed that the talks are tentative and may not lead to anything. APC President and Chief Executive Officer Red Cavaney disclosed the discussions during a June 20 interview at NPE 1997 in Chicago.
APC and the other groups— the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Soft Drink Association and the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery — frequently talk on specific problems, but what makes these discussions unusual is the strategic nature of the dialogue, said Rod Lowman, APC vice president of government affairs. NSDA and GMA declined to comment, while Luke Schmidt, president of Charlotte, N.C.-based NAPCOR, said they have discussed recycling.
``There's nothing unusual at all'' about the meetings, he said, noting that he always has talked regularly with members of the other three trade groups, which all are based in Washington.
The talks are in the early stages, and the groups may very well decide not to form a coalition or take action, Lowman said. Some companies also have been involved, but Lowman declined to name them. The talks have encompassed recycling, content mandates and manufacturers' responsibility issues, Lowman said.
For APC, the effort is part of a switch to anticipate problems and react proactively instead of waiting for a crisis, Cavaney said. It is too early to say what direction the effort may take, he said. APC is beginning to see more interest in recycling programs that are not market-based, Lowman said.
``The U.S. is still the only significant developed nation with market-driven policy on recycling,'' Lowman said. ``As other countries develop expertise in what works and what doesn't work, we are detecting a lot more interest'' from state and federal officials and recycling advocates about those nonmarket-based efforts, he added.
APC officials said they have not seen those questions translated into legislative action, but Cavaney noted recent pressure from the Grassroots Recycling Network to convince Coke to use more recycled content. Officials with the Alexandria, Va.-based National Recycling Coalition also said in May they wanted to examine subsidies they say could benefit virgin materials and harm recycling.
Mandated-content laws cause problems when markets are good because it is very hard to find recycled materials when prices and demand are high, Cavaney said. And, he said there is ``absolutely no evidence that the consumer will pay a premium'' for recycled content, which puts materials subject to government mandates at a disadvantage, he said.
APC favors programs to boost consumer demand for recycled content rather than government mandates, Cavaney said.
The trade groups have held two formal meetings and several informal discussions over the last three months, Lowman said.