How do you feel when, on vacation, you find yourself swimming alongside plastics in the ocean? How do you feel when you find yourself in a littered public space? How do you feel when you find yourself in a community after it begins to try to recover from a natural disaster – such as a hurricane or flood? Do you feel like making a difference and giving back? Do you feel we need to improve our communities by working together?

These are the questions that my Atlas Corps Host Organization Keep America Beautiful tries to address through its network of more than 600 community-based affiliates throughout the United States.

KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL is the nation’s iconic community improvement nonprofit organization that inspires and educates people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. Behavior change, steeped in education, research and behavioral science, is the cornerstone of Keep America Beautiful. The nonprofit empowers generations of community and environmental stewards with volunteer programs, hands-on experiences, educational curricula, and other resources. The organization is driven by the work and passion of its affiliate network, millions of volunteers, and the collaborative support of corporate partners, social and civic service organizations, academia, municipalities, elected officials, and individuals.

Created in 1986 by Keep America Beautiful, the Vision for America Award has been given every year to distinguished leaders of honored corporations that have demonstrated their personal and corporate commitment to significantly enhance civic, environmental and social stewardship. The award is presented annually at a formal dinner attended by over 300 business leaders, senior corporate managers, public officials and other distinguished guests. In past years, the award had been presented to Caterpillar, Dell, Honeywell, Nestlé Waters North America, PepsiCo, UPS, Xerox, and Delta Airlines, to mention a few. This year, Keep America Beautiful honored the American Chemistry Council (ACC) for leading cutting edge innovation across the plastic value chain by forming the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW). The President and CEO of ACC, Cal Dooley, received the award on behalf of the ACC at the annual Vision for America Award Gala dinner of Keep America Beautiful on the Oct. 29 in New York City.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste

Dooley, who is set to retire soon, led the initiative to bring together CEOs from global companies to form the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) is an international nonprofit made up of 30-plus global companies representing the plastics value chain, including chemical and plastic manufacturers, consumer goods companies, retailers, converters, and waste management companies. They have committed over $1 billion with the goal of investing $1.5 billion over the next five years to develop, deploy, and bring to scale solutions that will minimize and manage plastic waste and promote post-use solutions. These solutions can be to increase recycling, reuse, and repurposing of plastic to keep it out of the environment. Check them out and throw in your contributions to win the war against the spread of mismanaged plastic waste around the globe.

“Under Cal’s leadership ACC has launched many high impact sustainability initiatives including programs to embed sustainability as a core part of the industry Responsible Care Program,” said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Helen Lowman. “Similarly, ACC plastic division has been a leader in finding solutions to minimize waste and keep plastics out of the environment. This had included support for recycling, and beautification work including to help us build awareness and partnerships with like-minded NGOs and others to address the marine debris issue.”

Dooley, on accepting the award on behalf of ACC, acknowledged the tremendous benefits that the world receives from plastics, but also reflected on the importance of keeping plastics out of our oceans and inland waterways. “We still succeed in building a foundation and mutual respect with all stakeholders who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work,” said Dooley.

American Chemistry Council partner Circulate Capital was on hand to receive the Keep America Beautiful Leadership & Innovation Award for its work in developing and promoting technologies and strategy models that will help prevent plastic waste from the oceans and improve waste management.


Saving the planet isn’t easy. Starting to care for it, is!

I was able to interact with several guests at the Vision for America Award gala, including Cal Dooley, Joel Dickerson, President of Petroleum Service Corporation; Karen Bryant, Global Director of DOW Logistics; Walter Ripple,  Vice President, Sustainability of PolyOne; Christopher Lutick, Director of UPS Corporate; PJ Newcomb, Sustainability Manager of Coca-Cola,  and Kanika Greenlee, Vice Chair of the  Keep America Beautiful Board of Directors and Executive Director of Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission. I realized that one thing – the power of community!

It is essential we harness support systems and partnerships to bolster desired outcomes and form truly vibrant communities.

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