There's a group — of groups — formed to increase plastic recycling in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Called the North American Plastics Recycling Alliance, the coalition brings together trade associations and non-profit groups that represent the entire “plastics and recycling value chain from resin manufacturers and processors to brand owners and recyclers,” the alliance states.
Jay Gardiner is secretary of the group and views himself as a facilitator at NAPRA.
“We hope to engender collaboration between the leading groups in the recycling arena and the full supply chain. In other words, from the resin all the way through to the home collection of recycling,” Gardiner said during a Nov. 15 interview.
The group selected that date, America Recycles Day, to promote its existence for the first time.
NAPRA has actually been around and gaining steam for the past couple of years as the different associations and groups have come together. Quarterly meetings are usually held in Washington, Gardiner explained.
“We like to engender cooperation and collaboration between all these groups. That's important. We're looking at education. We're looking at communications. And, basically, the end game would be to advance plastics recycling,” he said.
Gathering member groups together face-to-face allows the sharing of information and ideas and helps ensure that different groups are not duplicating efforts.
“There needs to be a forum for all of these groups to communicate with each other so that they can work collectively. It doesn't have to be as a whole group, but that they can talk about what their latest initiatives are. And where there's common ground, we can get two, three, four groups working together.”
Membership in NAPRA is a who's who of plastics and recycling. Members, in alphabetical order, include: American Chemistry Council; American Institute for Packaging and the Environment; Association of Plastic Recyclers; Canadian Plastics Industry Association; Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico; Carpet America Recovery Effort; Foodservice Packaging Institute; and Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc.
Other members are: Keep America Beautiful; National Association for PET Container Resources; National Waste and Recycling Association; PAC, Packaging Consortium; Recycling Partnership; Society of the Plastics Industry; Sustainable Packaging Coalition; and Vinyl Institute.
“The group has been together now for a while. But we basically have come out today,” said Gardiner, who is a resin supplier and plastics industry consultant. “The best part of NAPRA that I have seen is the parts of the meeting where the organizations share their recent initiatives. ... It's a big part of the meeting and everybody learns what is going on and can take ideas and communicate with each other and collaborate.”
Gardiner credits APR Executive Director Steve Alexander and SPI Senior Director of Recycling & Diversion Kim Holmes for having the original idea for NAPRA.
“It was just a matter of getting some groundswell,” Gardiner said.
“Collaboration is the key to accelerating our progress towards a more sustainable society. The opportunity for effective improvement in plastics recycling can be greatly enhanced by the collaboration of NAPRA participates,” said Nina Goodrich, executive director of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, in a statement.
“Collectively, we can make a significant impact,” she continued.
“In today's world, collaboration is key,” Gardiner said. “It's just easier for everybody to get together in this venue and talk.”