Washington — Ross Eisenberg, the new head of the plastics division at the American Chemistry Council, sees navigating the challenges ahead for the industry as striking a balance between recognizing its problems and advocating for its strengths.
"This is an industry that is, quite frankly, vital to achieving not only our economic goals as a country but our environmental goals, including combating climate change," he said. "At the same time, it's not running away from its own problems. It's evolving. It's becoming more circular."
In a wide-ranging interview Sept. 18, his first day as ACC's vice president of plastics, Eisenberg outlined some of his thinking as he prepares to lead the lobbying efforts of one of the industry's two main trade associations in Washington.
He said the industry needs to focus on "not just saying no" in policy debates and figure out what it can support as it navigates government demands in states, in Washington and at global plastics treaty talks.
It also needs to remind lawmakers about the role of plastics in enabling technologies like making vehicles lighter or fighting climate change as it, conversely, takes a clear look at its environmental and waste challenges, he said.
One key task in Washington, he said, will be finding ways to build support among both Republicans and Democrats who can be skeptical — for different reasons — of ACC's legislative agenda.
He said ACC wants to build on the federal legislative framework it unveiled two years ago and sees the right policy as key to meeting the industry's recycling and sustainability goals.
"The bottom line is we want to make sure that we have the frameworks in place from a policy standpoint so that we can meet our goals for recyclability and recoverability," he said.
He takes over for Joshua Baca, who was abruptly dismissed from ACC in June after leading the plastics group since September 2020.
Eisenberg comes to the plastics division after having been ACC's top federal government lobbyist since early 2020, and before that, working on energy and environmental policy for the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
His two-decade career in Washington garnered him recognition this year, seeing him named to The Hill's annual list of top lobbyists and Washingtonian magazine's list of the 500 most influential people in D.C.