WASHINGTON — Another major resin supplier, Nova Chemicals Inc., intends to leave the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., joining a contingent of members of the American Plastics Council who have left SPI recently.
Officials with Calgary, Alberta-based Nova told SPI on April 6 the decision was the result of a review of the ``effectiveness of our participation with plastics trade associations.'' Nova is the third APC member company to leave SPI in the past six weeks, following Amoco Polymers Inc. and Solvay Polymers Inc.
Some observers speculated that those resin companies are trying to pressure SPI, which has processor, supplier and machinery members, into merging with APC, which is funded entirely by resin suppliers.
A Nova statement did not mention that and said the firm is committed to its plastics customers.
But spokesman Greg Wilkinson added: ``Nova supports the ongoing consolidation of plastics industry associations. We do expect to see collaboration between SPI and APC in the future.''
He said Nova is reviewing its participation in other trade groups.
Contentious negotiations aimed at merging the two largest trade groups, APC and SPI, ended last year. The talks were marred by fights over a processor-led group that urged that SPI President Larry Thomas lead the combined group.
The Nova official who wrote the SPI letter, Jeff Lipton, recently was named to APC's executive committee. Lipton, who will be president and chief executive officer of Nova Chemicals Inc. after its planned spin-off from Nova Corp. this summer, also heads APC's finance and membership subcommittee.
Solvay reportedly raised unspecified concerns about SPI leadership in its resignation letter, and Exxon Chemical Co., which left SPI in August, said the group no longer could represent the resin industry.
Sources estimate that Amoco and Solvay would take at least $200,000 from SPI coffers. Nova said it will leave May 31.
The planned departure comes as SPI is under orders from its members to tighten its financial belt and restructure. SPI spokesman Ron Bruner would not comment on what impact Nova's exit would have on those efforts.
SPI officials have said spending might have to be trimmed by $1.5 million, but noted that they have a $500,000 contingency fund.
Bruner declined to offer specific SPI budget figures in an April 9 interview, saying SPI officials will present a final budget proposal to the board next month. An SPI task force also plans to present a restructuring then.
As part of the belt-tightening, Bruner said SPI will eliminate the position of director of business services June 1.
The Polystyrene Packaging Council, part of SPI, is reviewing the impact of Nova's decision, a spokeswoman said.
SPI and APC are based in Washington.