Profitability, environmentalism and corporate responsibility issues increasingly are converging, creating a special brew of challenges. But, these principles need not be in conflict with one another.
In its Jan. 29 cover story, BusinessWeek offers this: ``Imagine a world in which eco-friendly and socially responsible practices actually help a company's bottom line. It's closer than you think.''
Several speakers at the Feb. 25-28 Plastics News Executive Forum 2007 in San Diego will delve into those topics as they specifically affect plastics processors and their customers. The opening day's keynote speaker is Amy Zettlemoyer, packaging director for Sam's Club, a unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Zettlemoyer will provide an update on Wal-Mart's initiative to apply score-card grading to suppliers' product packaging with the aim of encouraging innovation and environmental sustainability.
Environmentalist Stephanie Barger, founder and executive director of the 8-year-old, nonprofit Earth Resource Foundation follows. She will recap some of the environment-oriented issues coming to a boil in California that inevitably spill over into other states, with potential nationwide implications.
Barger is a zero-waste and resource-management advocate who has been an outspoken critic of the plastics industry. She spearheads the Campaign Against the Plastic Plague, which targets elimination of single-use plastic packaging - much of which ends up by the nation's roadways, and in its rivers and oceans. But she contends that being eco-friendly also can benefit corporations' bottom lines.
Some of Barger's more provocative positions will not go unchallenged, as three plastic film and bag executives take the stage next. They will update attendees on the industry's pro-active efforts already under way to address those issues, while also challenging their colleagues to do more in this area. Industry presenters include:
* Pete Grande, founder and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Command Packaging, and president of the California Film Extruders & Converters Association.
* Laurie Hansen, an independent lobbyist and a government affairs specialist for the Progressive Bag Alliance, which is headed by Larry Johnson. Johnson, the former president of Hilex Poly Co. LLC, has engaged California's environmentalists and legislators with good results to date.
* Frank Ruiz, president of Carrollton, Texas-based mineral-additives maker Plastimin LLC, who also serves as technical director of Heritage Bag Co. and as research director for Heritage Plastics Inc.
Following their presentations, they will be joined by Barger and Zettlemoyer for what promises to be a lively panel discussion moderated by Plastics News managing editor Don Loepp.