ORLANDO, FLA. — A little transformation took place at a recent membership meeting of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers.
It was a small detail, in the grand scheme of things, but can be considered representative of the organization's desire to grow.
Members didn't spend valuable meeting time allowing everyone in attendance to introduce themselves.
APR, a trade group that represents those who recycle post-consumer plastics, sees itself as scrappy, can-do organization that tackles issues and gets things done.
“We,” Executive Director Steve Alexander said, “are not the little engine that can. We are the little engine that does.”
And being a smaller organization has always meant there was time during meetings to make sure everybody knew one another.
But this most recent gathering, with 170 people registered to attend, was the largest group history.
“There was a sea change this morning, folks. We didn't pass the mic around for everybody to introduce themselves. There are people rolling over in their grave, trust me on that,” Alexander said. “When we think about the meeting structure and how we go forward, we need to think about are we utilizing your time, the investment of your time and your commitment to being here in the best possible fashion.”
So the group is beginning a journey of change that officials believe will help make it become a more effective and larger organization able to face the growing number of challenges members face.
“The demands on APR have never been greater,” Alexander said, adding that his group needs “to make sure we are engaged to represent the voice of the recyclers.
“APR continues to look to a growth strategy in terms of how APR operates in the marketplace, what our competitions is in the marketplace and how can we better serve the needs of the industry,” he said.
“There's more attention being given to plastics recycling I would say, at a certain level, by different groups. There are a lot of folks who now are participating in the plastics recycling arena. But what makes APR different? Why APR? What are our strengths and our niches?” Alexander said. “And how can we continue to grow and expand?”
Word of the group's need to change with the times came during APR's recent meeting in Orlando, and followed a board meeting earlier this year where the group's future, both near-term and long-term, was considered.
APR, the executive director said, wants to make sure that it continues to be at the center of the plastics recycling conversation.
“We're the voice of plastics recycling. Everybody else gets in line, all right,” he said. “We bring the technical guidance to solve the problems that are out there.”
Part of APR's new approach is seeking out new members as a way to increase revenue to undertake its mission.
“We've done very little targeting and actually going out and soliciting members. That's going to change,” Alexander said.
The group also wants to create a non-profit foundation that could attract funding to undertake technical and research projects. That's a move that would take some pressure off of the group's operating budget.