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PLASTICS is again co-locating the Plastics Industry Fly-In with the 2019 Spring National Board Meeting in Washington, D.C,. just as we did during the 2018 Annual Meeting & Fall Conference in September. It is important to take every opportunity to meet with members of Congress when the industry is in Washington, but it is critical that we, as industry professionals, take the time to participate again in the Plastics Industry Fly-In next month.

Since January, House Democrats are now in charge of the agenda on one side of Capitol Hill, and there are more than 110 new members in both the House and the Senate. That means almost a quarter of our federally elected officials have not heard from our industry and what is important to us.

Recycling infrastructure. No one ever took a position at a plastics manufacturing plant because they were passionate about littering. The men and women of this industry work hard and they do so because they know that what they’re doing has a positive impact—that the products they’re a part of making, designing and recycling serve a purpose and help to benefit the world, in ways small, large and everywhere in between.

This is why people in the plastics industry need to go to their city councils, state legislators and to Capitol Hill in DC in order to advocate on behalf of their businesses—not only to support, maintain and grow their operations, but to show that the industry both understands the benefits of its materials and that it has a role to play in their proper recovery and reuse. Policymakers should recognize that purpose and work with us to enhance the benefits this industry delivers every day.

Because we believe in the positive impact of plastics, we’ve put the fight for increased investments in recycling infrastructure at the center of our advocacy efforts for 2019 and beyond. This is a relatively new initiative and we need as many voices telling as many policymakers as possible about what we can do as an industry and as a society if we invest in our recycling infrastructure.

Trade issues. You are among the front-line experts in the industry on trade within North America. Passage of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace the outdated North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is uncertain now that the balance of power in the House has shifted. The support of Republican House members is not to be taken for granted either.

None of the new members of Congress ran on trade issues, and they are anxious to understand how the USMCA would benefit your business, customers and employees. The steel and aluminum tariffs remain on imports from Mexico and Canada and could be removed with pressure from Congress. We need to tell our representatives how these tariffs, as well as other tariffs, are hurting our businesses and the entire plastics supply chain.

Speaking of the supply chain—your customers and their customers. You don’t have to look hard to see that the anti-plastics movement is growing both in popular culture and in politics. Dozens of states are proposing various pieces of legislation that would prohibit our industry’s products from being sold or used within their borders. It is only a matter of time before that effort gains a foothold at the national level.

Imagine the impact on your customers and your business if federal legislation is passed to ban certain plastic products nationwide. That’s why it’s imperative that all segments of the industry—machinery manufacturers, processors, materials suppliers and brand owners—speak as loudly as possible about the negative impacts of product bans, on both the economy and the environment. Jobs will be lost, and businesses will be devastated, but additional products will also be used that lack the environmental advantages of plastics. Members of Congress will always be concerned about possible job losses in their districts and state, and about environmental impacts as well. We have to reinforce the collateral damage of knee-jerk reactions to complex, serious issues like plastic waste.    

The PLASTICS Government Affairs team works tirelessly to represent your interests in Congress. No one, however, can speak as well as you can on the impacts these policies will have on your businesses. Your voice has a greater impact in person than you probably realize, and the Plastics Industry Fly-In is your opportunity to use it.  Join me as we tell our plastics story and advocate for our industry on Capitol Hill March 26th.

We won’t have another opportunity to visit Capitol Hill as a group again until 2020, and many public policy positions can be solidified before going into that critical election year. We need to get our message to Capitol Hill now before it is too late to react. I hope you will join with your industry colleagues at the Fly-In on March 27. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to Suzanne Morgan at smorgan@plasticsindustry.org.

Registration for the Fly-In is open, and there is no additional cost to attend. If you have already registered for the Spring National Board Meeting and opted out of the Fly-In, please reconsider and register. If you haven’t reserved your hotel, the negotiated room block rate closes on March 4th.