COLUMBUS, OHIO - The American Plastics Council, known for advertisements touting safety, durability and other basic benefits of plastics, will mix in more-abstract concepts such as material reduction and energy conservation, according to APC President and Chief Executive Officer Red Cavaney. Cavaney, speaking at the April 30 Ohio Plastics Summit, also released new data showing how much opinions about plastics have improved.
The ads so far have focus-ed on making a personal connection by ``helping people to understand the importance of these items to their life,'' Cavaney said. Because the new themes are relatively complex, the expansion of that message will be subtle, happening ``a little at a time.'' Cavaney cited an example of demonstrating more efficient use of resources by showing how much more gasoline is used to transport 3 million plastic bags (one semitrailer) vs. the same number of paper bags (five semitrailors).
Cavaney said two ads already have run that address the new issues. Source reduction was explained in a print ad, run in major consumer magazines, showing how milk jugs have become thinner in the past 20 years. A television spot showing a girl parachuting briefly conveys the message of less gas to transport plastic bags.
Cavaney also outlined updated research.
``We're essentially reaching the crossover point where more people see us actively working to try and create solutions than causing problems,'' he said.
Here are some results:
The percentage of people who gave plastics a favorable rating increased from slightly more than half in 1992 to 65 percent in March 1996, putting plastics on par with other materials. ``You need to be in the band of somewhere around 60 percent in order to be considered a responsible industry and acting in the public interest,'' Cavaney said.
In 1992, two-thirds of people surveyed felt the plastics industry was causing environmental problems, but today, attitudes about plastics are about the same as for other materials.
There is a high level of awareness today that the plastics industry is working to provide solutions to problems.
People now prefer plastic packaging. Consumers were ask-ed to choose between identical items at the grocery store, one in paper and one in plastic.
``Over the past nine months, plastics have moved to the point where today, at a spread of 51 [percent] to 38 [percent], people have indicated a preference for plastics over paper and it looks like that gap is gradually increasing,'' Cavaney said.