Interview with members of the CPI management team -- K Trade Fair


Interview with members of the CPI management team

PU Magazine: Could you firstly please give as a short introduction about your current role within CPI and your professional background? Lee Salamone: In the last about 20 years I held several positions to gather experience in federal legislative and regulatory policy development, advocacy and regulatory consulting for the chemical and energy sector. For nearly four years I have been the Senior Director of the ACC Center for the Polyurethanes Industry. Paul Duffy: I am the vice president of engineering for Icynene Corporation, one of the leading manufacturers of spray foam for construction industry. About 25 years I have been a professional engineer working in constructional industry from single family houses to largest buildings like the CN tower in Toronto. This year, I am the chair of the CPI Conference Committee. Tom Feige: I started with Dow 22 years ago. The majority of my time at Dow has been spent in commercial roles. I have been in our Polyurethane business for the last eight years including some time as the business director of North America. About two years ago, I took over a new role as the strategy director helping with strategic analyses to support and grow our overall PU business. Regarding CPI, I have served on the board now for about four years, both as part of the steering committee, and then last year as vice chairman. Richard Skorpenske: After working as senior research chemist at Dow, as technical director at Lyondell (formerly Arco Chemical), I joined Bayer Material­Science as director for flexible foam application development. Today, I am heading the Polyurethane Advocacy & Sustainability Group. Within CPI I also chair the "Sustainability Committee” which looks at sustainability in a broader sense of "People Planet Profit”. PU Magazine: The CPI conference is very attractive for the PU industry. For the first time, there has been another PU event earlier this year in North America. Has this made the CPI conference different in any way from previous years? Lee Salamone: The CPI conference is growing every year, covering an interesting industry with lots of applications. The technical papers and posters presented during the conference are very important, and CPI is also a great place to meet and talk. Independent of where you are in the value chain, talking to each other is of great benefit. This is evidenced by the more than 900 participants making the CPI conference the biggest one in North America, and maybe even in the world. Paul Duffy: Well, I think having competition does a couple of things: it forces you to be crystal clear on who you are and what your mandate is. The nature of our conference is specific to the needs of the industry here. We deal with innovation, energy conservation, things related to various applications, OEM and otherwise. We also have regulatory sessions; we bring all of these people together, who have similar products they work on, and drill down to what exactly they do. It is a great opportunity to cross-pollinate one industry by another. The challenging thing is that marketing budgets and conference attendee's budgets are limited and this might have some impact. But to be honest, our numbers have not dropped. Tom Feige: I think that it is important to highlight the importance of this conference. I consider this to be one of the preeminent conferences not only in North America, but globally. It speaks to the quality of the types of events we are bringing to attendees, whether it is the conferences, the paper or the professional development programs. PU Magazine: More than in the past, the PU industry seems to face challenges from federal agencies, consumer groups and agencies in California. How does CPI cope with this situation? Lee Salamone: As every year, we have a focus on EHS at the conference to discuss the safe handling of chemicals in the PU industry. We are happy to have gotten the government agencies here in the special regulatory round table and, as far as I know, we are the only association that can attract them. It is a win-win situation, where the agencies have the chance to meet 900 people who are interested in what they say and at the same time to share their expertise by joining the technical sessions or talking to people at the table top exhibitions. Paul Duffy: What actually has happened over the past 3 - 5 years is that there has been a working hand in hand with various agencies like EPA, OSHA, or NIOSH and all of these organisations come to the table with their questions and their challenges toward the industry. And we, the PU industry have always been able to provide answers to the questions that were connected with regulatory changes, for example with energy efficiency programmes. Today, agencies have a greater understanding of our industry and this is beneficial to both partners. PU Magazine: There are several working groups within CPI covering topics like advocacy, sustainability, or product stewardship. How do they work together? Tom Feige: These groups have been formed over time. There have been other groups in the past, some have been phased out and others have been opened. When we talk to our membership, we look at where the needs are in terms of providing advocacy and thus these are our current main focus areas. Richard Skorpenske: In fact, there is overlap between all of them. When we identify a specific area, which might better fit to another committee, it is handled over to them to not duplicate efforts. In our sustainability committee we have four working groups where the activities really are taking place. First is the raw materials analysis workgroup to keep up with all ISO and ASTM standards and bring them up-to-date to secure quality and consistency. They ensure that for example isocyanate contents or OH numbers that are measured in America are the same than that determined in Europe or Asia. Next is the building codes and standards workgroup. You know that PU brings a lot of different benefits to buildings, both residential and commercial, including energy efficiency, comfort and durability, and this workgroup has the task to make sure that these benefits are taken into account in building codes. The third is the fire safety workgroup, dealing with fire retardant chemicals and combustibility, mainly for rigid foams for construction industry, and for flexible foams for furniture. The last one is the blowing agents workgroup. This group has ramped up activities since president Obama has started a climate initiative last year by executive order and helps the industry to respond to the EPA ­revising their Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. PU Magazine: That gives the impression to me that current regulatory issues like flame retardants for flexible foams (CAL TB 117-2013), free isocyanate content in spray foams, energy efficiency, or the SNAP revision for blowing agents are well covered. But besides regulations you are also faced with emotional discussions in public, like the "Toxic Hot Seat” film or general suspicion of chemistry. Is CPI also discussing such items? Tom Feige: What you raise here is absolutely correct. Sometimes, when people hear a chemical word they have some negative impressions, whereas polyurethanes are a great story to tell in terms of impacting all parts of our life. But polyurethanes are not well understood and this is where we come in with our "Versatile. Durable. Incredible. Polyurethane.” campaign. A main objective of the campaign is to elevate awareness around the positive impact polyurethanes have on society. We are promoting these positive stories on our website, through social media channels like Twitter, which is a relatively new concept. So we are going more on the offense in terms of telling our story. PU Magazine: How do you think can technical journals like PU Magazine help the PU industry regarding advocacy? Richard Skorpenske: There certainly is a role for all kinds of media to help convey the message of benefits of polyurethanes and also to help to frame the based sound science approach to decision making. PU Magazine: Thank you all for taking the time for an interview.