WASHINGTON — The influential American Chemistry Council, whose members include the country’s largest chemical companies, has hired BCW to handle communications for its plastics division’s sustainability efforts, the Holmes Report can reveal.

The remit, which focuses on improving ways to capture and recycle plastics, is a new one for the ACC. The organization is frequently at odds with environmentalists as pollution from plastic waste becomes an increasingly hot-button issue. 

While the ACC has committed to reducing plastic waste, it is also is a vocal opponent of legislation banning single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam containers, including California’s plan to phase out plastic bags over the next decade. 

According to the ACC website, the organization shares the goals of the bans but doesn’t see them as the answer, saying the bags are “cost-effective” and the “environmentally preferable choice.” A ban “may lead to increased solid waste, energy use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions,” as well as reduce the recycling of products like dry-cleaning bags, it said.

Instead, the ACC and its members are pushing for greater recyclability, as well as the development of technology and systems to collect and repurpose more plastics. Last year, the group established a goal of making all plastic packaging in the United States recyclable or recoverable by 2030 and for all plastic packaging to be reused, recycled or recovered by 2040. 

BCW's remit is a new one for the organization, which works with multiple PR firms, said Jennifer Killinger, the ACC plastics division’s senior director of sustainability and public outreach. 

"ACC’s plastics division evaluated a number of agencies that we felt were well-positioned to help us advance sustainability solutions for plastic waste in the United States," said Killinger. "We selected BCW and have just begun our engagement, so we have nothing yet to report." 

According to sources, the business has the potential to be lucrative for BCW. The organization’s annual operating budget exceeds $100m; in 2018, ACC spent $9.2m on lobbying on behalf of its members, which include the likes of ExxonMobil, Chevron, and BASF, according to Opensecrets.org.