Plastics industry seeks trust on sustainability stances

David Eldridge

Published: November 8, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Public Policy, Suppliers, Sustainability

WEISBADEN, GERMANY (Nov. 8, 1:30 p.m. ET) — The frustration of the plastics industry at the poor perception of its sustainability and health credentials surfaced at the PolyTalk event organized by PlasticsEurope.

The September event in Wiesbaden brought together business leaders from the European plastics industry, with representatives of the green lobby and officials from European organizations.

Some sympathy was expressed by keynote speakers Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, and Sir Jonathan Porritt, founder and director of Forum for the Future, a United Kingdom-based sustainability think tank.

Porritt said he could sense the frustration of the plastics industry in not getting across the message that it contributes to sustainable developments in automotive, packaging and construction.

He also agreed that environmental organizations can sometimes misuse the trust that society places in them in the way they characterize sustainability issues.

However, Porritt warned the plastics industry against relying on finite resources of hydrocarbons for raw materials. Continuing to do so will not stop the plastics industry developing sustainable innovations, he said: “But it will stop the industry from becoming the force for good in society that it needs to be.”

A panel discussion at PolyTalk on “sound science vs. environmental and health concerns” focused on frustrations arising from plastics-related health scares, including the multiple studies conducted on the health impact of bisphenol-A (BPA).

Martin Brudermüller, vice chairman of BASF’s executive board, called for more trust of plastics companies and of scientific studies into potential health risks. He highlighted the need to find consensus about health risks through agreeing the conditions for risk assessment and then all sides sticking to the criteria.

Elke Anklam, director of the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection at the European Commission, said a consensus on potential health risks, should not exclude the studies carried out by companies in the industry.

Axel Singhofen, health policy adviser to the Greens in the European Parliament, agreed but said industry studies must not “contaminate” the decision making process.

He criticized the European Food Safety Authority for the way it excluded some BPA studies in its multi-study assessment of BPA’s health risks. He also questioned the transparency of EFSA.

Brudermüller said that such attitudes “do not lead us forward” to finding consensus on risk assessment.

Commissioner Janez Potocnik highlighted the work of the Reach program, which has so far placed 84 chemicals on the EU’s list of substances of very high concern.

Singhofen responded: “The Reach list has taken 15 years to get this far, and it is still not complete. The industry has been defending phthalates for ten years.”

Another panelist, Susan Freinkel, a journalist and author, said the plastics industry should stop fighting regulation against the use of BPA in vulnerable areas such as baby products. “I think that’s where trust gets eroded,” she said.

Wrapping up the event, Patrick Thomas, president of PlasticsEurope and CEO of Bayer MaterialScience, said it is important the industry tries to understand concerns that are raised, not just dismiss them.


Comments

Plastics industry seeks trust on sustainability stances

David Eldridge

Published: November 8, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Non-recyclable items gumming up the works at recycling centers

August 21, 2014 3:46 pm ET

The influx of all sorts of unacceptable items at recycling centers has gotten to the point that Charlotte, N.C.-based ReCommunity is trying to bring...    More

Image

Investment firm specializes in emerging polymer firms in Ohio

August 21, 2014 3:20 pm ET

A plastics market veteran is working with an investment firm and a research foundation to help commercialize polymer technology in the Buckeye State.    More

Image

Bayer, SCAC partner on water reuse project

August 21, 2014 12:48 pm ET

Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) and Shanghai Chlor-Alkali Chemical Co. Ltd. (SCAC) have entered into a preliminary agreement for the reuse of waste water ...    More

Image

Milacron commits $30 million to investment in India

August 20, 2014 5:42 pm ET

MUMBAI (Updated) — Cincinnati-based Milacron LLC plans to invest $30 million over the next three years in India. The investments will double...    More

Image

Automakers look under the hood for the next lightweighting opportunities

August 20, 2014 1:06 pm ET

The automotive industry's current favorite target for lightweighting efforts is the powertrain, according to a recent survey.    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events