A bitter row has broken out between two British plastics industry organizations, each claiming the right to recruit new members from smaller, unrepresented plastics processor companies.
The dispute between the country's largest industry body, the British Plastics Federation, and the Polymer Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association arose after PMMDA revealed plans to extend membership to processors.
Rugby, England-based PMMDA now represents plastics machinery firms. But the group believes it can attract small injection molders and other processors unable to pay for services offered by a big trade association.
``We decided to consider starting a processors' group, not as full members of the PMMDA but a group within the organization, because there are lots of small processors we considered we have something to offer,'' said PMMDA Chairman Paul Goodhew. He was interviewed at the Interplas 2005 trade show, held Oct. 4-6 in Birmingham.
News of PMMDA's intention triggered an angry response from London-based BPF, which has members across the industry supply chain, including resin and additive suppliers, distributors, primary and auxiliary machinery makers, processors and recyclers.
In a sharply worded statement, BPF said the federation and its affiliated processing organizations are ``the only serious providers of services'' to plastics processors. BPF claimed PMMDA came up with the plan for financial reasons.
``In any event, this change in the PMMDA's constitution will raise questions about its ongoing affiliation to the BPF,'' the federation said. BPF's director general, Peter Davis, said plastics processing in the United Kingdom already has well-established and well-supported representative bodies. ``Any new offering from organizations without a track record in processing would distract the industry from the real challenges,'' he said.
BPF denied any implication in PMMDA's announced plan that processors recruited to the new group could take advantage of BPF benefits.
Also speaking at Interplas, Davis said: ``Our members are certainly pretty annoyed about this. They feel it's confusing the industry.'' BPF is ``recruiting small processors all the time and has a reasonable subscription for them,'' he added. BPF has been an ally of PMMDA, said Davis, who hopes further talks will resolve the issue.
But PMMDA believes its processor group would complement BPF, said Goodhew, managing director of Sepro Robotique Ltd. in Milton Keynes, England. ``We feel the kind of people likely to come and join our organization would not consider joining the BPF, partly on the grounds of cost,'' he said.
``We have no intention of backing down,'' he said. ``We are continuing in the direction we started for the time being. It depends largely on the market.'' However, Goodhew added that PMMDA does not want to fall out with BPF. He said BPF's severe reaction surprised him and talks between the groups have been constructive.
Currently, BPF has 250 corporate members from the plastics processing sector, while PMMDA's membership totals 75 companies, all equipment manufacturers or distributors. PMMDA has lost some members, Goodhew admitted, but it has gained others new to the equipment market.
PMMDA secretary Sandy Weaver suggested some smaller, unattached processors would value a more limited ``hand-holding'' service, without the full range of benefits and services offered by BPF. She pointed to the ``massive void'' of unrepresented firms, with BPF attracting only 250 companies out of Britain's estimated 6,000 processors.