The sponsorship of a number of special events, many of them not typically associated with the plastics industry, illustrates one approach the American Chemistry Council's plastics department is using to remind people about the benefits of plastics.
In the past two months, ACC's Plastics Make It Possible campaign took a prominent role at the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon in Washington, partnered with Gen Art at the Fresh Faces in Fashion show in Los Angeles, and teamed up with Green Car Journal to sponsor the Green Cars Ride & Drive event, held in conjunction with the LA Auto Show.
We are looking to engage the public in ways that might raise an eyebrow, and in places where it is not intuitively obvious why we're involved, said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for Arlington-based ACC.
At the same time, ACC is seeking to engage the public in a dialogue about plastics through its www.plasticsmakeitpossible.com Web site, which it launched in late October.
The site, which focuses on eight plastics end markets and areas of innovation, includes stories and video commentary from third parties, independent experts and industry sources. There also are videos from people involved in ACC-sponsored events who explain the value of plastics to home building, fashion, autos and the like.
Such initiatives are an effort to remind people how plastics make their lives better, Russell said in a telephone interview.
We want to remind consumers about the benefits of plastics and remind them that a lot of things we like are plastics from cell phones to iPods to the look of sunroofs to dresses.
We want to make that reconnection with consumers that the things they like are plastics and that companies are using plastics to create innovative new products, he said.
A case in point: Upscale designers Versace and Prada recently featured clear plastic shoes and beads. At the Fresh Face Fashion Show in Los Angeles, Gen Art CEO Ian Gerard said: We hope to help make consumers aware of the incredible variety of innovative plastic design fibers that most of us wear daily.
Plastics Make It Possible and Gen Art are jointly sponsoring a nationwide fashion design competition to create two dynamic women's wear looks made from fabrics that include plastic-based fibers. The winner will receive $10,000 and a runway show at Gen Art's Fresh Faces event at the 2010 New York Fashion Week show in New York.
Plastics and couture might not seem like an obvious fit, but the fact is that plastics have played a very large role in fashion for decades, Russell said.
Similarly, ACC used the Ride & Drive event in LA on Dec. 3 to point out that plastic products represent roughly 50 percent of the items on a car, and that for every 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight, fuel economy improves 5-7 percent and greenhouse gas emissions are sig- nificantly reduced.
From seatbelts and air bags that can be life-saving in a collision to structural components that reduce vehicle weight and improve gas mileage, plastics provide a multitude of benefits in almost every aspect of today's vehicles, Russell said. Many of [their innovative green technologies] wouldn't be possible without plastic.
Award-winning auto expert Lauren Fix was at the show to discuss the role of plastics. Videos featuring Fix and other designers are available on the Plastics Make It Possible Web site.
ACC is planning more events and sponsorships in the United States and Canada.
In January, the ACC will address advances in winter sports equipment in terms of performance and safety enhancement, ahead of of the 2010 Winter Olympics that begin Feb. 12 in Vancouver, British Columbia, said Jennifer Killinger, ACC's consumer and public outreach director.
Event sponsorships and the Web site are just two ways ACC is reaching out to the public with its Plastics Make It Possible initiative. Russell said the group also wants to generate dialogue around issues like plastics recycling, using the Web site as a venue for providing as much information as possible.
We want to convene a group of thought leaders around recycling to see what can be done to improve the recycling performance, or to see if there are opportunities to work with government and other industry sectors, Russell said.
We want to engage our own social network and keep the dialogue and conversation going, he said.
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