The plastics industry is extending its initiative to keep resins out of waterways and storm sewers in Canada.
The industry's three major associations — the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., the Canadian Plastics Industry Association and the plastics division of the American Chemistry Council — have signed a licensing agreement that will bring SPI's Operation Clean Sweep resin-handling program to Canada.
It's the second time in the last three months that SPI, CPIA and ACC have collaborated on an environmental stewardship initiative and the effort could be a harbinger of continued cooperation going forward.
In late March, those three and 44 other global plastics associations, including PlasticsEurope, pledged to work in partnership with other groups to develop solutions to marine debris globally, although they did not detail any specific initiatives.
“As public attention to marine debris continues to grow, it's important for the plastics industry to demonstrate that we're doing our part, and Operation Clean Sweep is an important part of our commitment to stewardship,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for ACC, which is also a licensee of the Clean Sweep program.
“We're excited to bring this very successful international environmental stewardship program [Operation Clean Sweep] to Canada,” added Greg Wilkinson, CPIA president and CEO. He spoke at a June 22 news conference during the Plast-Ex trade show in Toronto.
“We all agree that plastic pellets don't belong in the environment and this program can help us practice better pellet stewardship across our industry,” Wilkinson said.
Pellet loss can occur during rail car transportation or handling, or in manufacturing, where the pellets may be washed down drains inadvertently. In a 34-page manual, OCS details best-practice guidelines and pellet-containment practices to minimize pellet loss.
The Clean Sweep program, which is about 20 years old, has been implemented at more than 200 companies in the U.S., the associations said.
Clean Sweep was also recently launched in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom two years ago. Under the licensing agreement, CPIA will administer and promote OCS in Canada. CPIA represents more than 3,350 companies that combined employ 106,000 people in the $31 billion Canadian plastics industry.
“We are delighted to share a program that has helped U.S. companies not only keep resin pellets out of waterways, but improved efficiency by turning more material into products rather than waste,” said SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux.
Companies that adopt the principles of OCS pledge to improve their work sites to prevent and address spills, audit their performance regularly, provide employee training and insist on employee accountability for spill prevention.
The companies also agree to create and publish internal procedures to achieve zero pellet loss and to comply with all local regulations governing pellet containment.