In response to increased attacks on flexible vinyl products and the phthalates used to soften vinyl, the industry has formed the Flexible Vinyl Alliance, which will allow it to react more quickly to initiatives at state and local levels.
We want to activate a grassroots network, said FVA coordinator Kevin Ott. We want to get more ears to the ground and add more voices to the debate. Ott is former executive director of the Film and Bag Federation of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., where he was involved in efforts to defeat plastic bag bans. He now heads his own consulting firm in McLean, Va.
The Phthalate Esters Panel of the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va., is funding FVA for the group's first 18 months, Ott said. The alliance was announced Nov. 17, but has been operating since Sept. 1. Its first steering committee meeting was held earlier this month.
Sources said phthalates manufacturer ExxonMobil Chemical Co. ExxonMobil a member of ACC's Phthalate Esters Panel and the Vinyl Institute is the driving force behind FVA's creation. Phthalates manufacturers and vinyl compounders saw the need for a network to address specific issues involving flexible vinyl and phthalates at state and local levels, the sources said.
They felt that they weren't getting enough help defending products that use phthalates as a plasticizer, said one source.
The 11-member FVA steering committee includes representatives from PVC manufacturers and compounders, product fabricators and all three major U.S. phthalate makers. Also represented are SPI and the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and Canadian pipe maker Ipex Inc., whose representative, Veso Sebot, is a member of the 3-year-old Vinyl Promotion Network, an informal group of companies and organizations in the vinyl supply chain with a similar mission of promoting vinyl's benefits.
Greg Bocchi, president of Alexandria, Va.-based VI, said his group looks forward to working with FVA on advocacy issues.
We have been involved with the FVA since its inception, taking part in all of its organizational meetings, Bocchi said.
Allen Blakey, VI vice president of industry and government affairs, agreed: We welcome anyone who wants to promote the benefits of vinyl. We are glad to have another group of people, additional resources and manpower supporting us, he said.
We are not in competition with other trade groups, Ott said. We just want to drill the messages about the benefits of flexible vinyl products to a level that is more local. We are here to assist and coordinate on advocacy.
Flexible vinyl products, in particular toys and other children's items, have been targeted by activists who want retailers to take the products off their shelves. This year, the U.S. put a permanent ban on using three types of phthalates in children's products.
Ott said the FVA has three main goals: We want to inform consumers about what's happening and the benefits of flexible vinyl products. We want to make sure the value chain of brand owners, retailers and manufacturers have the information they need to discuss those issues with decision-makers and legislators at the grassroots level. And we want to coordinate those activities.
He said FVA is targeting its message at a more diversified audience. We want companies to have a comfort zone when talking about the benefits of vinyl and get them the information they need to be advocates for their own products, Ott said.
We are trying to fill a gap. When we see things coming down the pike, whether it's at the state, local or federal level, we want to weigh in and encourage local folks to get involved.
The 11 members of the FVAS steering committee are:
* Lou Cappucci, head of the vinyl division, Teknor Apex Co.
* William Carroll, vice president, Occidental Chemical Corp.
* Steve Cullen, global business manager for plasticizers, Eastman Chemical Co.
* Bill Dominick, vice president of automotive and industrial research and development, Rutland Plastic Technologies Inc.
* Paul Galasso, commercial manager of intermediates, Americas, ExxonMobil Chemical Co.
* Patrick Harmon, industry manager of oxo-alcohols and plasticizers, BASF Corp.
* Brenda Hollo, technical manager, plastic additives, Ferro Corp.
* David Kiddoo, global business manager, AlphaGary Corp.
* Terry Peters, executive director, SPI Fluoropolymers Division.
* Dean Thompson, president, Resilient Floor Covering Institute.
* Veso Sobot, corporate affairs director, Ipex.
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