Congratulations to both the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and the American Plastics Council for recent state lobbying successes. More importantly, cheers to the local processors who played key roles in both efforts. In each case, processors provided the grass-roots support that made success possible.
Such missions now provide a blueprint for future lobbying endeavors, and we hope they establish a spirit of cooperation that eventually will bring SPI and APC themselves closer together.
Washington-based SPI signed an agreement May 25 with Michigan's Occupational Safety and Health Administration that both sides believe will lead to better training and improved worker safety. Already, efforts to work with local OSHA officials have led to some cost savings and reduced wear and tear on plastics machinery.
Details haven't been worked out, but the deal will build on earlier success in developing a new lockout standard for horizontal injection molding machines. In that effort, processors — including Blue Water Plastics Inc. of Marysville, Mich. — were able to prove that a $4 lock on a machine gate was just as safe as completely powering down a press during a mold change, thereby saving processors time and preventing damage to their machines and computer systems.
Many processors got involved with APC's crusade to kill a tax on plastic molds made in Pennsylvania.
Arlington, Va.-based APC worked with Plastics Pennsylvania to mobilize opposition to the tax and create awareness among legislators and bureaucrats about the size and importance of the local plastics industry.
Success came May 16, when the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously approved a law that exempts molds permanently from the state's tax on manufacturing equipment. That provision was included as part of a larger, $774 million tax-reduction bill.
While we're praising two recent successful state lobbying efforts, we'll once again mention another campaign that also was effective, although we don't agree with the results: the industry offensive in Kentucky against a bottle-deposit bill.
APC played a role in that battle as well. We continue to scratch our heads and wonder why the plastics industry doesn't leave this battle to the cola companies and grocery stores. Without new state deposit programs, the PET recycling rate will continue to slip. That most certainly will be reflected in the overall plastics recycling rate.
Down the road, that trend will lead to bad results for plastics processors.
As the recycling rate drops, we see renewed efforts to legislate recycled content in packaging. That could mean plastics will lose market share to competitive materials, not because other materials are preferred by consumers, or even because they make better ecological sense — but because those materials are heavier and easier to recycle.
Processors should resist efforts to include them in the anti-deposit battle. It's just not in their best interest.