Friday, December 12th, 2014

SPI Supports Efforts to Clear Waterways of Pollution

FriendlyTurtle_WebSPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association advocates on behalf of programs designed to pursue zero waste. In response to the Five Gyres Institute’s recent release of a study that estimates the quantities of plastics in the world’s oceans (“Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than 5 Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea”), SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux released the following statement:

“Marine debris is a serious pollution problem that impacts our environment, the economy and our way of life. As responsible plastics manufacturing professionals, SPI and its members are firmly committed to addressing marine litter issues with sound solutions that achieve our goal of pursuing zero waste.

Operation Clean Sweep, an international product stewardship program launched by SPI in 1994 and currently administered in conjunction with the American Chemistry Council, is credited with reducing the concentration of pellets in the waterways by 80 percent. We are extremely proud of our success in this realm and plan to continue working with our peer organizations as well as our members to make greater strides in the future.

“Along with similar-minded organizations around the globe, in 2011 SPI signed The Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter, a public commitment to address plastics in the marine environment. SPI is one of 60 associations representing 34 countries that have signed the declaration to promote policies and practices that rid our waterways of ugly, harmful marine debris.

“Plastics are renewable resources that are too valuable to lose as litter. Because of this, we’ve invested heavily in a broad range of recycling projects geared toward encouraging the public to reuse and recycle plastics products. Most recently, SPI became an inaugural member of the Recycling Partnership, a grant fund established by the Curbside Value Partnership (CVP) to support and transform public recycling performance. In this role, we advocate for expansion of programs in communities that have the capability to maximize recovery of plastic products including rigids, thermoforms and other non-bottle packaging materials.

“By supporting efforts to close the loop on all plastics materials so that none reaches the marine environment or the landfill, SPI and its partners are helping to combat marine debris and look forward to a day when plastics in the marine environment are a thing of the past.”

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Baltimore Mayor Correctly Vetoes City Ban on Plastic Bags

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake deserves all the praise she receives for vetoing the politically-motivated plastic bag ban the City Council recently passed with no debate or public discussion. Looming over this issue was a lingering question on the mind of Rawlings-Blake and the collective mind of the plastics industry: where have the voters been in this process?

The City Council certainly didn’t pay attention to them when they took an unpopular 5-cent bag fee bill and changed it at the eleventh hour, without debate or discussion, into an outright ban (members of the City Council who supported the ban said that the statewide midterm elections and a general anti-tax fervor led them to abandon the fee) and they certainly didn’t listen to local business owners who opposed a bag ban on the grounds that it would increase costs and amount to another tax that the City Council claimed it wanted to avoid.Recycled plastic bags image

In fact, according to Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), because paper bags cost more for grocers to supply, a ban on plastic bags would increase costs for consumers. For example, Daniels noted, for a large grocery store to switch to all paper it could cost an extra $60,000 to $90,000 per store. Those costs would be passed on to consumers, meaning a family of five would see an increase in their annual grocery expenses. If the Council understood the voters’ frustration with increased taxes, it had a funny way of showing it.

The plastic bag ban has become a cause celebre for politicians hoping to score political points and a symbolic victory that is only ever just that: symbolic. Plastic bags take up less than one percent of the municipal waste stream nationwide, and while no amount of litter is acceptable, the issue requires serious solutions and actual discussion. SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the APBA share the Baltimore City Council’s concerns about litter, but if they’re serious about having an impact, they should be focusing on litter and recycling education rather than instituting new taxes. Of course, the City Council was never interested in serious solutions and actual discussion; this was a political ploy meant to send the mayor a message.

Baltimore’s experience is becoming all too typical, as, in the search for that symbolic victory, politicians find loopholes to jam plastic bag bans and taxes through the legislature at the expense of openness and transparency. That’s because every time one of these proposals is presented to voters, they’ve rejected it. The only ways to enact a plastic bag ban or tax seem to be to make backroom deals, play political games and silence voter input, but that’s not how government is supposed to work in America. The voters get to have their say, and each time they’ve gotten the chance to, they’ve opposed it.

Ultimately all of these factors lead SPI and the APBA to the conclusion that Rawlings-Blake’s veto was the right thing to do. This was an underhanded effort by the Baltimore City Council to circumvent normal procedures of governance in order to enact a bill Baltimoreans didn’t want, and never got a chance to object to. The veto shows that if the City Council doesn’t value Baltimore residents’ right to debate and discussion, the Mayor does.

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Plastic Trade Groups Teach Kids the Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Many legislators and policymakers across the country are justifiably concerned about litter, but have been led to believe that plastic bags are a major part of the problem. They’re not. The reality is that plastic bags make up just 0.4 percent (0.4%) of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream, according to the EPA, and traditionally are less than one percent (1%) of litter.Plastic-Bags-Closeup-260w

We as a society must have an honest conversation about litter and its reduction, but that conversation needs to be both grounded in facts and science and focused on meaningful solutions. So, when policymakers consider plastic bag bans and taxes, they should (1) be aware of just how little of the country’s litter is actually made up of plastic bags, and (2) understand that local governmental resources would be better spent elsewhere. This includes supporting broader litter education campaigns focused on changing people’s behavior instead of eliminating useful products and valuable resources.

That’s why SPI and the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) support several different organizations in order to help drive the nation’s first widespread litter reduction initiative since the 1980s. A number of different programs already operate in this space. Earlier this fall, for instance, SPI partnered with JASON Learning, a nonprofit organization managed by Sea Research Foundation, Inc., and the National Geographic Society to launch the “Think Outside the Bag!” plastic film recycling contest, which asks students to create creative public awareness campaigns about flexible film and bag recycling. Not many people know to recycle these materials and therefore dispose of them in garbage bins, where they’re eventually lost to the landfill.  Through partnerships like this one, however, SPI and JASON Learning are teaching environmentally responsible behavior to the next generation of American recyclers and empowering them to educate others so that none of this material ever is wasted.

apba logo_2012In addition, the APBA strongly supports the efforts of A Bag’s Life, a public education campaign that unites nonprofits, business, community and government organizations to raise awareness regarding and make it easier for more people to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags.  A Bag’s Life just launched its second-annual plastic bag collection and recycling contest in the Galveston Independent School District (GISD) on November 14, 2014, in honor of America Recycles Day. Last year this successful recycling competition resulted in the collection of over 350,000 plastic bags, and this year the number of participating schools has nearly doubled. Supported by Clean Galveston and Trex, this initiative gives students and their communities until Earth Day 2015 to make a positive environmental change. The two schools with the most recycled bags per capita will win products made from recycled plastic materials and provided by Trex.spi_logo_300x151

Initiatives like this are meaningful, long-term solutions to our nation’s litter problem. Plastic bag bans and taxes are not. SPI and the APBA look forward to working together with the aforementioned organizations, and others, trying to make a real impact on litter through recycling and recycling education.

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

As Renewal Season Ramps Up, SPI Offers an Easy Answer to Heavy Healthcare Questions

By SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

The leaves are turning and the climate is changing, the amount of time available for actual work is decreasing and the forecast seems to vary on a day-to-day basis, swinging from sunny skies and short sleeves to slickers or scarves at a moment’s notice.

That’s right: it’s renewal season!

A recent study released by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. the 2014 Benefits Strategy and Benchmarking Survey, found that U.S. employers’ biggest overall challenge is controlling benefit costs. Among employers surveyed, 63% reported that their benefit expenses account for 20% or more of their total compensation spend. The same study found that 98% of employers are committed to providing some form of employee healthcare benefits for the future. Subsidizing employee healthcare is a key element of any employer’s value proposition.

As such, employers considering their 2015 healthcare offerings are facing an environment with potentially higher costs and complex considerations when determining the right path forward. The manufacturing renaissance in America continues, but for companies to unleash their true growth potential they need to be able to spend less time tabulating the tangible and intangible pros, cons and costs of their employee benefit programs and more time innovating, exporting, investing and hiring.

Like any other sector the plastics industry has these same concerns about healthcare. Luckily, SPI listened and last April launched SPI HealthLink, a private exchange platform specific to SPI members. “The first step in the success of any healthcare plan is to recognize the issues that need to be addressed,” said SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux. “Where SPI HealthLink stands out as such an attractive option for employers is in its ability to create a predictable solution that is both time and cost efficient.”SPI Health Link Logo2-4C

Private exchanges have emerged as an increasingly popular solution to the questions companies have about healthcare, with data collected by JD Power & Associates showing that 47 percent of businesses intend to adopt one. With SPI HealthLink you get more predictable costs, increased efficiency and streamlined administrative processes, and your employees get to pick benefits as unique as the plastic products and materials their companies manufacture, process, mold and recycle.

It’s easy to see how it becomes wasteful for a company to offer the same plan to a 65-year-old employee that it does to a 20-year-old employee. Operating from a defined contribution (DC) rather than defined benefit approach, SPI HealthLink abandons the one-size-fits-all model of traditional health plans that causes misaligned employee coverage.

With SPI HealthLink, employees choose the coverage that meets their individual needs across a wide range of insurance solutions. That means your employees are better protected and more invested in the benefit dollars your company spends on them.

SPI HealthLink allows employers to allocate fixed dollars to their employees so they can purchase the insurance they need, transforming the budgeting process into an array of concrete predictions instead of a parade of maybes. And all the while, as administered by international services firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., HealthLink can eliminate members’ administrative burden and help them get back to growing their business.

SPI members interested in learning more about HealthLink can click here, or call the SPI HealthLink hotline at (844)413-5871 to speak with a live representative from Gallagher. Whether you’re looking for new options or already have a plan in place, understanding the value of SPI HealthLink could be meaningful to helping your organization achieve greater organizational goals such as enhanced employee engagement and productivity.

Monday, November 10th, 2014

Letter from SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux on Last Week’s Midterm Elections

William R. Carteaux, President and CEO, SPI

William R. Carteaux, President and CEO, SPI

If there’s one conclusion to be drawn from last week’s elections, it’s that voters repudiated the gridlock and brinksmanship that too often defines our nation’s policy making. And, now that the election is over, the complicated process of governing begins. President Obama, Congress, Governors and state legislators must find ways to move the country forward.

In spite of all the change in Washington and state capitals, though, one thing hasn’t changed at all: our success in achieving pro-plastics outcomes will depend on the participation and support of individuals like you.

In Washington, at least 12 new U.S.  Senators and 56 new House members will  be sworn in this January. That means     we’ll have lots of new lawmakers to educate about our industry, its economic importance and the issues that matter to companies throughout the value chain.

The national wave was also reflected in key state-level races where outcomes suggest an improving landscape for plastics, particularly in some state capitals that have historically been troublesome for the industry. Just as we do in Washington, SPI will press state legislators and regulators to incorporate our interests into their decision making.

More important than which party controls the White House or Congress or Governors’ mansions, are the voices of the industry’s citizen-advocates like you. Looking ahead from Tuesday’s elections, there’s an opportunity not just to head off the threats that face us, but to advance meaningful, positive, proactive policy initiatives for the benefit of our entire industry.

We need everyone on board, both in response to dangerous legislative or regulatory developments and in support of pro-plastics initiatives that reaffirm our role as a forward-looking industry with a solid record of bettering our communities and our country.

That’s why I’m asking you to take a minute to fill out this brief survey to help us communicate our industry’s size and impact to elected officials, regulators and other key policy makers.

We appreciate your time as we proudly advocate for an ever-brighter future for us all.

Sincerely,

William R. Carteaux
President & CEO
SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association