(June 6, 2008)— Norma Fox and I began our “relationship” during the first huge environmentalist attack on plastics and plastic bags, shortly after the hideously contrived Mobro 4000 garbage barge spectacle. Norma was leading the administrative charge for the California Film Extruders and Converters Association, and I was involved with the Plastic Bag Association (the film industry's original “PBA,” not the latest iteration of the acronym) as a member activist, thousands of miles apart, but both under the same attack.
The worst part of the plastic bag industry's condition at the time was the difficulty — impossibility — of putting together effective coalitions industrywide and segment-deep. The segment could not meld its interests into common efforts, and the resin industry segment did not want to partner up with their polyethylene bag resin customer segment. We had to fend for ourselves. We did.
CFECA did its work under Norma's direction and execution; the PBA did its thing. There were a few stalwart CFECA members who understood the value of industry partnerships, and they also joined PBA. Their involvements in both groups helped with communications between CFECA and Norma's work, and the PBA's activities.
Philosophies quite often were not agreeable, to put it gently. The relationship between Norma Fox and me varied from disagreeable to merciless. But nothing diverted Norma from working to best represent and build CFECA for the benefit of its members by addressing the critical issues that struck at her members' very existence.
Time has proven Norma and me correct in our primary concern about the viability of the lifeblood issue of the bag industry: Once our customers are dissuaded from using our products by the ravings of “enviromaniacs,” the misrepresentations (i.e., lies) of competing industries and the illogical initiatives of political fear and scientific ignorance by shallow elected officials, all our efforts will be for naught.
Norma's belief was to fight by representing the interests of a geographic industry segment in an independent association. My belief was to try to build intra-industry and inter-segment relationships. Looking back, Norma was right and I was wrong about two points on how to approach building solutions.
Point one: Norma was right in thinking an independent CFECA (with competent governance and executive leadership) would be more viable longer-term than an SPI-division CFECA teamed with the Film and Bag Federation (nee Plastic Bag Association).
Point two: I was naÃ¯ve in thinking SPI and the former American Plastics Council would be able to effectively address the interests of the industry's film and bag segment. As it evolved, SPI and APC behaved as though they really didn't care about PE films and their PE resin customers who produced and converted PE films and bags. With a fistful of notable exceptions, the “resin guys” never could envision the inevitable results that some of us knew then were coming, and from which plastics suffer today.
From an association executive leadership position, Norma Fox beat them all.
ComAd Management Group
Lady Lake, Fla.