Newspapers often are accused of sensationalism, emphasizing negativity and playing up conflict.
But throughout the recent meltdown in the relationship between the American Plastics Council and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., this column has been careful to dole out criticism by the thimbleful and spend more effort appealing for leadership and sanity.
This editorial will be no exception. While there´s no good news to report (yet), we´re encouraged by what SPI President Don Duncan had to say on the subject in the Q&A interview published last week. Duncan made clear that SPI is working to mend fences with APC.
On the surface the groups are communicating and cooperating. We hope that on another level they´ll make progress toward eventual reunification, which is in the best interest of the whole plastics industry.
It´s also promising that Duncan did not dismiss the potential for a future merger. He stated specifically that he would not let his own ambition stand in the way: "If ... there´s someone out there better than me, let them have it," he said, referring to the top job, should the two groups combine. That´s refreshing, considering that leadership issues helped scuttle the last merger talks.
Still, given how little public comment we´ve heard from members of the boards of directors of both groups, it is necessary to amplify some other recent remarks on the topic. Those came from Frank Popoff, chairman of Dow Chemical Co. and a former APC board member. Popoff will retire from Dow in November after a 41-year career.
In a June 22 interview in Chicago, just before the speech he gave while accepting the Plastics Hall of Fame´s Daniel Fox Lifetime Achievement Award, Popoff claimed he was not involved in the breakup of SPI and APC, nor in Dow´s decision to resign from SPI.
Popoff laid the responsibility for Dow´s role on the managers of the company´s plastics unit: "It´s their budget. It´s their bottom line. So they make those decisions," he said.
Our first reaction to that comment was, to be honest, disbelief. The chairman wasn´t involved? Whatever happened to, "The buck stops here´´?
But given some time to reflect, our incredulousness has softened. Of course Popoff should have heeded the advice of his plastics chieftains on this issue. If they felt strongly that Dow was better served by concentrating its efforts on APC, so be it.
We could have hoped for a leader who would have demonstrated the error of that decision. Unfortunately, leadership was in short supply on both sides of the SPI-APC breakup.
We hope things have changed.