National Harbor, Md. — A trade group representing plastics recyclers is re-emphasizing its non-profit foundation as the group looks to continue to increase influence.
The Association of Plastic Recyclers established the non-profit Foundation for Plastic Recycling about five years ago.
APR President Steve Alexander originally figured he would also run the separate foundation, but could never really find the time in addition to his trade group duties, he said.
But the foundation now has its own leader with the hiring of Lisa Lopinsky as executive director. She has been working for several months to reactivate and organize the operation.
"We have been taking time to talk to people, to listen and to find out what it is that you, the APR membership, want to see out of the foundation," Lopinsky said at a recent APR meeting in National Harbor.
"You might ask, 'Why a foundation?' APR established the Foundation for Plastic Recycling as the charitable arm of the association. A lot of associations form foundations with the sole purpose of conducting what's considered projects and initiatives that may not fall in the wheelhouse of the association," she explained to APR members.
"Generally, they are education, research, those types of projects and initiatives," she said.
The foundation can work in tandem with APR but still be a separate organization that can seek funding from outside the group. Donations to the foundation, as a charitable organization, are tax deductible.
"The foundation takes a higher level and we will look at projects and initiatives that address your issues but also a bigger picture of the public and society in general, not just the day-to-day issues of the association member," Lopinsky said.
Alexander said the foundation will cast a wider net in search of funding for efforts that will benefit plastics recycling. APR, as a trade group, relies heavily on member support and will continue in its advocacy role.
"Our ability to raise funds through just membership development is limited," Alexander said. "The foundation is really a way for us to extend beyond our paradigm."
The foundation is holding talks with other non-profit groups to explain its mission regarding sustainability issues and its focus on plastics recycling.
The foundation's initial work will focus on three areas:
• Investing in research and programs to extend technology innovations to advance plastics recycling.
• Delivering global solutions in the harmonization of design for recycling standards and testing protocols.
• Increasing the supply, enhancing the quality and expanding the demand for recycled plastics.
Lopinsky comes to the foundation with both trade group and foundation leadership experience, although this is her first work in plastics recycling.
The foundation's mission statement reads:
"The mission of the Foundation for Plastic Recycling is to drive sustainability solutions for plastic packaging in order to support the Circular Economy. Through education, research and collaboration, the Foundation seeks to enhance the value of plastic recycling as well as expand plastic recycling efforts at the state and national level."
Alexander said a key for the foundation is to establish programs to clearly show potential outside funding sources what its work will entail.
"Some will invest in a vision," Alexander said. "Others will only invest in specific projects."