Plastics recycling group growing, sees more work ahead

As the long-time head of the Association of Plastic Recyclers, Steve Alexander has been fond of referring to his trade group as the "little engine that does" over the years.

Well, not any more.

The scope of work that APR handles has never been greater, the locomotive needs to be bigger and the organization's CEO expects the demands will only continue to grow.

"This is a unique opportunity. We can no longer just be the little engine that does. We're being asked to play at a level with organizations with millions and millions more than APR, much more than our $1.7 million budget," he said. "We really need to expand our resources going forward."

While APR has seen the workload grow over the years, the group has not raised membership dues "for a long time," Alexander said. "We should have been raising it over the period of time. These are the things we need to do in order to continue to make sure that we can represent you and be your voice going forward."

APR sees the need to add even more expertise as plastic recycling is being debated in state legislatures around the country.

"APR must expand its staffing resources to serve the needs of our industry," he said. "We have expanded the staff a little bit over the past couple of months. We are looking to create a policy division within APR."

That senior policy position would help the trade group advocate on proposals that could impact the industry. Alexander said there also is a need to have more in-person representation at state houses as measures are being considered.

"It's very difficult for us to be in all those places at one time. We want to bring on staffers," he told members on the first day of APR's fall members meeting Oct. 26, held virtually due to COVID-19. "So they are the people who would be going to those states and they would be representing you.

"When we talk about the fact that we're your voice, we're not just your voice in the private sector and working with brands. We're also your lobbying voice, both on Capitol Hill and at the state level, which is becoming much more intensive," Alexander said.

"We want to make sure that legislative proposals actually solve the problems they are pretending to do. We want to take advantage of this opportunity that we have with all the attention focused on plastics packaging," he said.

The CEO told members there is "a lot of unbridled enthusiasm and irrational expectations about what the [plastics recycling] system can and cannot do."

Underpinning all that APR does, Alexander said, is one thing. "Our primary goal is always going to be to expand the supply of good material and all that comes within that, to continue to address the new industry challenges and threats. And, obviously, we want to integrate effective chemical recycling technologies across the board because there's a lot of attention and investment being made in that area," Alexander said.

APR recently named Curt Cozart as chief operating officer. Cozart, who has worked with APR in the past, runs Common Sense Solutions Inc., a consulting firm involved in plastics recycling plant design, project management and operations.

Alexander outlined a variety of areas where he would like to see APR growth, including testing resources and protocols. The group also is working to make its popular design guild interactive, an effort that will require a project manager.

The group has added 11 members since its last meeting in June months and 37 this year. Membership now stands at 247.

» Publication Date: 27/10/2021

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