The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers plans to launch an educational campaign on supply problems that recyclers face, but is moving away from plans for a lobbying campaign.
The Arlington, Va.-based trade group decided at a meeting Oct. 14 to develop a media and outreach effort to raise awareness of declining plastic recycling rates. Earlier this year, the group formed a task force to explore a government relations campaign. While APR officials said they would still make their case to government, they won't make it the focus.
According to APR Vice Chairman Steve Navedo, the group discovered in its research that people outside the recycling sector are not really aware of the supply problems.
``Our research indicates that perhaps folks in government are not aware of that, and the general public is not aware we have an issue,'' he said. Navedo declined to comment on how much money APR would spend on the campaign but said it plans to form another task force to develop the effort.
The lobbying campaign proved controversial within the group: At a July meeting, APR members considered but then shelved pro-bottle-bill language.
APR had considered, but dropped, language saying that bottle bills are the most effective ways to boost recycling. Soft drink companies that are members of APR and the American Plastics Council, which helps to fund APR, strongly oppose bottle bills.
``We need to focus on areas we have in common with these guys if we want to move forward with anything,'' Navedo said in an Oct. 15 telephone interview.
``The big fear is that APR is going to go out and lobby for bottle bills - that is not going to happen,'' Navedo said. ``Anybody who pushes bottle bills is going to confront resistance. If you have the money to doggedly pursue it, then God bless you.''
Navedo also said APR has written a letter to the United States Trade Representative, noting that about 35 percent of U.S. recycled PET now goes to China and asking the government to look into whether or not Chinese companies are violating Chinese law by importing whole bottles that have not been ground up.
He said Chinese consumption of that much U.S. recycled plastic is ``really hurtful'' when recycling rates are declining. The U.S. PET recycling rate has dropped from 40 percent to 20 percent since 1995.
On the domestic supply front, Navedo said APR wants to work with APC and other groups on the education campaign.
Navedo, who is also sales manager for Pure Tech Plastics in East Farmingdale, N.Y., said APR is interested in APC's help because APC is concerned about the supply problems, and APC has a lot of experience in communicating with the public.