Another major PET supplier has eliminated key recycling personnel as part of a reorganization. All key salaried management positions in Wellman Inc.'s recycling division have been eliminated, said spokeswoman Judith Langan.
The move comes a few months after Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport, Tenn., shrank its own recycling staff. Recycling advocates bemoaned the cutbacks.
Wellman officials would not identify the individuals let go from the recycling division, but officials from the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers in Arlington, Va., as well as PET recycler St. Jude Polymer Corp. of Frackville, Pa., said one top technical staff member, Pete Booth, was among those affected by the staff cuts.
Stephen Babinchak, president of St. Jude, referred to Booth as "the brains behind Wellman."
Booth was not available for comment.
APR Director Robin Cotchan said Booth served several years on APR's technical committee.
"We could not have done the `Design for Recyclability Guideline' without Pete Booth," Cotchan said in a telephone interview, referring to the 6-year-old packaging guideline as "APR's bible."
Shrewsbury, N.J.-based Wellman is a major PET recycler, and it has no plans to stop recycling.
"In simple terms, it is an organizational design change. As far as our manufacturing processes, that has not changed," said Dal Avant, group director of human resources in Wellman's Johnsonville, S.C., facility.
About 350 former recycling division hourly employees are still on the company payroll, but are in the two remaining divisions — engineering resins and fiber, Avant said.
"The restructuring [will] streamline our operations, which in turn reduces costs for us to continue to remain competitive," Avant said.
When Eastman restructured, APR officials complained that key recycling staff member David Cornel was included in the cutback.
At this point, Cotchan said she is not sure whether Booth will continue to consult with APR, as Cornel is able to.