WASHINGTON — The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. is making a last-minute appeal to the American Plastics Council to hold off on changes that would bring the once-allied groups into direct competition, but APC appears ready to press ahead.
APC leaders plan to meet April 12 to decide whether to broaden their mission to accommodate five large resin firms that have left SPI.
SPI's officers sent a letter to APC's board April 6, but APC officers already have decided to explore broadening the group, said APC President Ron Yocum. APC leaders would like to make a decision at the meeting, he said.
SPI Chairman Harry Ussery said he was ``hopeful but not optimistic'' that APC would change course.
APC's board will discuss including functions such as Food and Drug Administration work, transportation, resin statistics and expanded federal government work and issues management — all tasks that SPI has handled in the past.
APC, originally an offshoot of SPI, was created to handle solid waste and usually has confined itself to that issue.
APC's meeting in Naples, Fla., appears poised to set off a scramble among large resin producers and some units of SPI to determine which organization they should belong to. APC officials said four more resin firms appear ready to depart SPI, while Ussery said a few APC members are considering leaving that group.
An executive of Nova Chemical Corp. said the Polystyrene Packaging Council, a unit of SPI, appears to have decided to align itself with APC, although PSPC officials declined comment. Nova left SPI and has urged PSPC to affiliate with APC.
The April 6 SPI letter asks the APC board to consider hiring a consultant ``at the earliest opportunity to assist in real negotiations.''
The letter, from SPI's five officers, praised APC's handling of solid waste issues and the industry's advertising campaign.
It also said SPI has represented the industry well before FDA and other regulatory agencies, and on topics like resin statistics, building codes and transportation issues.
The letter hints that other plastics industry segments would consider funding APC's advertising campaign, a $20 million-a-year expense borne by APC's resin company members.
``We are fearful that any action by the APC to become a `full-service' organization will be ultimately damaging to both organizations and the plastics industry,'' SPI's letter said.
During the most-recent merger talks, SPI officials were angered with APC's position that resin firms should have 50 percent control over the hiring of a leader for any combined group.
But Yocum said APC did not like the way SPI touted its recent restructuring as a model for uniting the groups. That restructuring gives roughly equal control to machinery, processor and resin segments.
Broadening APC's mission could add about $2 million a year to its budget, but some of the functions, like transportation, could be performed by the Chemical Manufacturers Association, said Gerry Finn, Nova vice president of government and industry relations.
Interviews suggest that several factors can explain the dispute:
Resin companies facing tough markets and looking to trim trade association expenses.
Different needs of large resin companies and the smaller companies that make up the rest of the industry, which make some SPI functions such as trade or worker safety more valuable to smaller processors and machinery companies.
Disagreements about who would lead any combined group and how much control should rest with resin companies, who provide the lion's share of the budgets of both groups.