By: Michael Dewsbury
May 18, 2012
Regarding your Viewpoint [“Grandma, Sedgwick raise the hue and cry,” Page 6, April 16]: Activists continue their efforts to ban the plastic bottle and the industry continues attempts at appeasement by “increasing the rate of recycling.” If activists don’t like 30 percent maybe they’ll like 50 percent, or 60 percent?
There is always going to be an activist somewhere that is offended by something, and today they get heard. We can’t stop that, but we can educate the consumer of the values and the real environmental costs of PET bottles. The two issues raised with PET bottles are, first, they consume nonrenewable resources and, second, they create litter. Let’s look at these issues.
The consumer has made clear they value clean, conveniently transported water. There is an environmental footprint created by these bottles, but it is less than most people think. Within the industry, studies have been done comparing the cost of providing water in different ways with different materials. Nestlé did not choose PET without some research.
Why should PET water bottles be attacked for consuming resources, which for PET is energy in a different form, if it is the best and lowest carbon footprint way of packaging water? Add to that, the impact of each bottle has been reduced by at least half via lightweighting over the last five years, and PET can be shown to be among the best options to meet a consumer need.
Air conditioners each year in the U.S. consume more energy than PET water bottles. Yet producers of air conditioners market their products as “saving” energy via the government-backed Energy Star program. PET water-bottle producers have made bigger reductions in their footprint than AC producers and both products meet a consumer need.
Bottles don’t create litter any more than paper or cigarette butts. People create litter. Anti-litter campaigns, enforcement of litter laws, and education can all be used to reduce litter. Don’t blame the product, blame the perpetrator and please don’t encourage littering by making something degradable. Paper degrades and it still creates a litter problem.
This industry has focused on recycling as the easy way out for too long. It won’t work by itself. Use the combined knowledge of the true value and cost of PET bottles in external and internal communications.
Environmental positives should be on all advertisements and product labels. Use the existing industry bodies like the National Association for PET Container Resources or the PET Resin Association to accumulate and distribute information so a consistently accurate message of environmental responsibility is out there.
There are a lot of stakeholders from raw-material producers to beverage producers. If they all use similar messaging, the consumer will be educated.
Resin Technology Inc.
Fort Worth, Texas