The new alliance between the American Plastics Council and the Society of Plastics Engineers will work best if the relationship evolves into a partnership that rewards both groups.
Fortunately, APC and SPE seem to recognize that already. Although the affiliation still is in its early stages, the groups have taken steps to make sure the lines of communication will work both ways. Otherwise, SPE members might fear that APC is just looking for footsoldiers to do the industry's lobbying.
APC President Ron Yocum says SPE members will become ``the eyes and ears of APC.'' He expects that SPE's constituents will have a lot to tell APC, and the groups are setting up a toll-free telephone number and an e-mail address to solicit feedback, plus a means of regularly polling SPE members' views on important issues.
In other words, the groups want to make it very easy for SPE members to tell APC what's going on at the grass-roots level. And be assured: Yocum and SPE Executive Director Michael Cappelletti both realize that individual members of SPE are, at times, going to disagree with APC's positions on important issues.
The fact that they know this and are prepared to move ahead anyway is testament to their support for this closer relationship.
The idea of an APC/SPE alliance is so natural, it's surprising it is happening only now. Perhaps this is a benefit of Yocum's long career in the plastics industry. As APC's new president, he understands the value of working with SPE better than any typical Washington trade association insider.
Still, APC needs to remember that an alliance with SPE shouldn't diminish the importance of keeping close ties with the other major plastics trade association: the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
The recent departure from SPI of several APC member companies is disconcerting, particularly since the large resin companies leaving SPI are prominent in APC. The two groups should be working toward an eventual merger. The current direction seems more likely to result in a split between resin suppliers, represented by APC, and the rest of the industry, represented by SPI.
APC's mission — to make sure plastic is the material of choice in an environmentally sensitive world — provides benefits to many more than APC's 25 resin-company members.