Attempting to look at global issues facing the plastics industry, a group of about 50 leaders from various resin producers formed the World Plastics Council at K 2013 in Düsseldorf, Germany.
PlasticsEurope in Belgium and the Washington-based American Chemistry Council's Plastics Division initiated the meeting to discuss forming the group. In an interview with Plastics News, Steve Russell, ACC vice president of plastics, said the organization will be driven by its members, the companies.
"The trade associations will be there to help provide support, continuity, but this will be led by the companies," he said. "They will indentify the priorities, not the associations."
He said leaders from companies from all over the world came together for the meeting, including China, South Korea, Japan, India, Thailand, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe.
"There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm at this meeting for this concept," he said. "And we were very delighted from the response we got."
The idea of forming a worldwide council like this has been around for a little while, Russell said, but things started to fall into place ahead of K 2013, held Oct. 16-23. It was at the show that the leaders got together and decided to officially form the organization. They plan to meet as an entire body once a year in person, and an executive group will probably meet and communicate more often, Russell said.
The direct issues the group aims to tackle haven't been full flushed out, but among the common themes discussed in the lead-in to the event were marine debris, post-use issues for plastics and general sustainability.
"Many of our member companies, over the years, have pointed out that the issues we are addressing increasingly are global in nature," Russell said. "And while the existing trade associations are doing a good job in their regions, there's really an opportunity to learn from each other and create better solutions that are globally informed."
Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience AG in Leverkusen, Gemany, and president of PlasticsEurope, was nominated to initially chair the organization.
"The success of any global initiative requires the participation of the largest and most influential industry members in the [organization], hence it is encouraging to see that 80 percent of the world's leading plastics producers came together and fully support the launch of a World Plastics Council," he said in a statement. "I believe we have started a forum that will benefit both the industry and society in the future."
Russell said the work the organization will tackle is in no way a replacement for work done by national or regional trade organizations.
"We think there are enough issues and need [in the industry], that no one association in any particular region could handle [them] on their own," he said. "We think we'll be more effective if we find ways to address the issues globally."
The group is still open to new members.
"Anyone who shares the vision of being able to do better by learning from each other and accelerate our activities and be more effective is more than welcome to join in," Russell said. "And we hope they will."