The American Progressive Bag Alliance is highlighting its commitments to encouraging innovation promoting environmental progress and protecting the plastic industry at NPE 2015.
As you may have read in any of the countless media reports on the subject, on Feb. 24 the California Secretary of State announced the qualification of a ballot measure to repeal the nation's only statewide plastic bag ban. More than 800,000 signatures of California voters were submitted by APBA, the industry group that led the referendum on behalf of plastic bag manufacturers and recyclers.
APBA is proud of its work on the front lines of the fight for plastics, pushing back and protecting industry in a meaningful way. This involves educating the public about existing and effective recycling solutions, refuting inaccurate and misleading claims and advocating against such bans and taxes.
What we've accomplished thus far is impressive, but we can and will do more. That's why we're reaching out to the plastics industry at large — to suggest that this is about more than plastic bags. The broader industry has a clear and vested interest in this issue, and a role to play as well.
If we collaborate and stand together, we can prevent future attacks on plastic products by telling the industry's sustainability story and protecting our industry — the third largest manufacturing sector in the United States — from being irreparably damaged. We are more than the sum of our parts.
APBA is happy to help lead this industry effort, which can and should include advancing recycling education and encouraging industry innovation, in addition to protecting industry through advocacy.
For example, APBA currently promotes environmental progress by strongly supporting A Bag's Life, a public education campaign dedicated to encouraging consumers to remember the three R's — reduce, reuse, recycle — and return their plastic bags and film to collection bins located in participating local stores and schools. In State College, Pa., 16 schools and 4,000 students tallied 360,384 bags slated for recycling thanks to their efforts in 2014. And 9 local schools in Galveston, Texas, participated in a district-wide recycling competition, wherein they collected over 350,000 bags — just under 5,000 pounds of recycled plastic.
Education is crucial, because, as we all know, this is a behavioral issue — not a material one.
APBA is equally committed to encouraging industry innovation, particularly as it pertains to closing the recycling loop on plastic bags. Novolex, a member of the APBA, created its Bag-2-Bag program, a standout example of reducing environmental impact and advancing the availability of recycled content. Their state-of-the-art, $22 million recycling plant turns plastic bags and wraps into clean bags that can be reused and recycled again and again. In 2013 alone, Novolex recycled more than 35 million pounds of material and distributed tens of thousands of recycling bins to retailers across the country.
In short, everyone in the industry must work together to accomplish these goals. That's why NPE 2015 represents a unique opportunity: we can gather to collaborate and collectively commit to advancing recycling innovation and sustainability education. We hope you will find us at the SPI Outreach Zone and consider supporting the work of APBA.
We look forward to working with and learning from you.
Lee Califf is executive director and Mindi Mebane is manager of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, a unit of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.