SPI may seem a bit off balance right now. In the past year, the Society of the Plastics Industry has lost roughly a dozen major resin suppliers to a rival group, the American Plastics Council (APC). As a result, SPI handed over to APC responsibility for the resin production and sales statistics that are the fundamental barometer of the industry. Prior to that, the Polyurethane Div., Vinyl Institute, and Polystyrene Packaging Council left SPI to join APC. The Plastics Pipe Institute left SPI to become independent. And the Automotive Composites Alliance and most of the Composites Institute defected to the Composites Fabricators Association.
The landscape has certainly changed from what I had known for my 27 years in plastics. SPI is no longer the all-inclusive umbrella it was. It has to share responsibilities with APC, an organization of 26 large resin companies that also has processors and machine builders active at the committee level. Both groups represent the industry before state legislative bodies and federal regulatory agencies like the FDA.
These developments are enough to make one worry about possible disunity within the industry, wasteful duplication of efforts, and weakening of the industry's voice in public forums. But after conversations last month with Larry Thomas and Ron Yocum, presidents of SPI and APC, respectively, things don't look that grim. "We're going through a realignment," said Thomas. "There are still some rough edges and hurt feelings," conceded Yocum. But both emphasized that the two organizations are indeed still working together on many fronts. They both want and expect SPI and APC to be close allies in the future. They consider any other outcome too frightful to imagine. Thomas even hopes the two can reunite at some point. But that point looks far off right now.
Seeking A New Equilibrium
In the past year, the Society of the Plastics Industry has lost roughly a dozen major resin suppliers to a rival group, the American Plastics Council (APC).