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The American Chemistry Council (ACC), formerly known as the Manufacturing Chemists' Association (at its founding in 1872) and then as the Chemical Manufacturers' Association (from 1978 until 2000), is an industry trade association for American chemical companies, based in Washington, D.C.
The mission of the American Chemistry Council is to promote the interests of companies engaged in the business of chemistry. The trade group represents US chemical companies as well as the plastics and chlorine industries, formerly known as the American Plastics Council, the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry and the Chlorine Chemistry Council.
The ACC implemented the Responsible Care program in 1988. At least 52 countries have implemented this initiative. It is managed at a global level by the International Council of Chemical Associations.
The ACC launched a $35 million "essential2" public relations campaign in 2005. "essential2" attempted to improve the industry's image by emphasizing the importance of chemical industry products – especially plastics – to everyday life, and by using the term "American Chemistry" rather than "chemical industry". The ACC later shifted to a more directed lobbying and policy-shaping effort, including taking legal action against federal efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from industry.
Some critics[who?] believe that the Responsible Care program is intended to help the industry avoid regulation by imposing its own safety and environmental regulations, and to improve its public image in the wake of the 1984 Bhopal disaster. Defenders[who?] of the Responsible Care standard claim the program has improved safety and that its standards are higher than some OSHA regulations.
Environmentalists and those concerned about the health effects of chemicals in the environment traditionally oppose the ACC's initiatives. They view campaigns like "essential2" as efforts to distract public attention away from products and practices that they view as harmful and dangerous.
The American Chemistry Council is involved in and shaping public policy discussions when necessary to defend its members' special needs from the effects of legislation. This has proven particularly true when the public interest points to changes in industry practice that might be detrimental to the relative financial success of members. By combining funds from the collective chemical industry as a whole and then using this money to steer public debate, the American Chemistry Council has repeatedly demonstrated its efficiency at obtaining outcomes favorable for the special interests of the chemical industry.
Sometime in 2008, the ACC launched a campaign to oppose California SB1713 – a bill to ban bisphenol A statewide – including bulk postal mailings in July and August encouraging California citizens to demand opposition of their representing legislators.
Plastic bag regulation
The ACC has engaged repeatedly in fighting governmental restrictions and bans on plastic shopping bags. The phase-out of lightweight plastic bags has been proposed or implemented in many countries since 2002. In the United States, in July 2008, the Seattle City Council voted to impose an additional 20 cent fee on each plastic bag purchased from stores by shoppers as a convenience for transportation of goods. This effort was suspended until a referendum could be held in 2009, allowing voters a chance to weigh in on the issue of whether they should continue to be encouraged to support industry by purchasing plastic bags without considering disposal costs. During the period leading up to the referendum vote the American Chemistry Council stepped into this local affair, ultimately spending some $1.4 million on their successful effort to thwart the proposed system of fully accounting for the cost of plastic bags. Seattle in 2012 overcame ACC objections and successfully enacted a bag ban.
In 2010 the ACC was quoted by The New York Times in opposition to a California bill to outlaw plastic bags, claiming that new law "amounts to a $1 billion tax added to [Californian's] grocery bills."
But subsequent ACC efforts to prevent adoption of municipal ordinances banning plastic bags have not been successful. Over ACC opposition, San Jose, California, in 2010 adopted California's strictest ban. The ordinance, in effect since 2012, prohibits supermarkets, pharmacies, corner shops and others from distributing single-use plastic bags, with fines for violations. Retailers can sell paper bags made of 40 percent recycled materials for 10 cents each, gradually increasing to 25 cents by 2014. In 2016, California voters approved a statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags.
- Ian R. Kenyon and Daniel Feakes, The Creation of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: A Case Study in the Birth of an Intergovernmental Organisation (Cambridge University Press, 2007: ISBN 9067042412), p. 181.
- Manufacturing Chemists' Association, The Chemical Industry Facts Book (Manufacturing Chemists' Association, Inc., 1961), p. 151.
- Cary Coglianese and Jennifer Nash, Regulating from the Inside: Can Environmental Management Systems Achieve Policy Goals? (Resources for the Future, 2001: ISBN 1-891853-41-4), p. 64.
- Brian Rothery, Standards and Certification in Europe (Gower, 1996: ISBN 0-566-07644-6), p. 129.
- Charles Perrow, The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters (Princeton University Press, 2007: ISBN 0-691-12997-5), p. 129.
- "American Chemistry Council Celebrates Launch of 'essential2'". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "ACC Launches New Platform – Highlights Innovation, Jobs and Safety". Americanchemistry.com. 2011-05-24. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Supreme Court asked to hear EPA greenhouse gas challenge". Newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com. 2013-04-22. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Fifth International Marine Debris Conference, 5imdc.org. URL accessed February 18, 2018
- "Facts About BPA". Bpafacts.org. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Bill Document". Legislature.ca.gov. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- "Stink! The Movie The Chemical Industry Doesn't Want You To See". Stink! Movie.
- Barringer, Felicity (2010-06-02). "In California, a Step Toward B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bag)". The New York Times.
- Zito, Kelly (2010-12-15). "San Jose OKs state's toughest ban on plastic bags". SFGate. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- Luna, Taryn (10 November 2016). "Californians say farewell to the plastic bag". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- AmericanChemistry.com (official website)
- PlasticsMythBuster.org (another American Chemistry Council site)
- Responsible Care Global Initiative
- Lobby Watch: The Center for Public Integrity ACC profile
- BisphenolA (another site owned by American Chemistry)