Joshua Baca doesn't bring much direct plastics experience to his new job heading the American Chemistry Council's plastics division, one of the industry's two major Washington trade groups.
Instead, Baca comes to the role with something ACC leaders said is critical now: A strong background in politics and government policy, including spearheading a $100 million plastic bottle recycling initiative for the soft drink industry.
With plastics environmental legislation picking up in states and Washington — and major consumer brand companies floating ideas like packaging taxes and fees on virgin resin to boost recycling — ACC leadership cited that political background as a key in hiring him.
"Joshua brings deep expertise on complex environmental and sustainability public policy issues that require coalition and consensus-building," ACC President and CEO Chris Jahn said. "Nowhere is that more critical than helping to identify, advance and implement large-scale solutions to solve the issue of plastic waste in our environment."
Baca started in September as ACC vice president of plastics and replaces Steve Russell, who stepped down earlier this year after more than a decade leading the division and 24 years with ACC.
Before joining the chemicals trade group, Baca was senior vice president for public affairs at the American Beverage Association in Washington, where he led the launch of its $100 million Every Bottle Back recycling initiative in 2019.
Prior to that he spent about 15 years in politics, including on Capitol Hill for former Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign as national coalitions director and stints in executive jobs for communications and policy firms Marathon Strategies and DDC Public Affairs.
In a mid-November interview, Baca talked about priorities and challenges for the plastics division, as well as coming on board during a pandemic that's meant sharing workspace with his 2-year-old daughter and getting to know the new team over video calls.