A newbie might not think today's news is all that important -- the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., the plastics division of the American Chemistry Council and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association are forming an alliance to help the industry speak with a single voice in North America. But formalizing this spirit of cooperation -- even naming it the North American Plastics Alliance -- is noteworthy. Especially in an industry that, despite its size, sometimes suffers from lack of political clout. Mike Verespej, Plastics News' staff reporter in Washington, wrote about the agreement today. He points out that the alliance initially will focus on four areas: pellet containment, advocacy, energy recovery and initiatives aimed at getting key stakeholders to look more favorably on plastics. Again, to a newcomer, the list of challenges that the industry is facing today may seem daunting and unprecedented: bag bans, PS foam container bans, regulatory concerns about the safety of bisphenol A and phthalates. But scrutiny is nothing new to plastics. Think back to the late 1980s, when SPI formed the Council for Solid Waste Solutions. Just like today, plastic bags were under attack, PS foam was being banned, and chemical safety was on the public docket. If anything, it's surprising how little has changed. Yes, some of these issues are on the rise. Mike listed them in his story today:
- Some 22 communities in the United States have bans on plastic carryout bags, eight of them enacted this year. In addition, Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Md., have a 5-cent tax on paper and plastic carryout bags.
- In California alone, 36 cities and three communities -- most of them adjacent to the ocean -- have banned polystyrene takeout food-service containers.
- Nine states, the city of Chicago and four counties in New York have bans on BPA in baby bottles.