The following briefs were filed by Plastics News Washington-based reporter Steve Toloken from the Society of Plastics Engineers' ARC '97 recycling conference, held Nov. 5-7 in Chicago.
Paper promotes fuel made from plastics
Fuel made from discarded plastics, particularly PVC, has the potential to boost recycling significantly and opinion polls suggest it may be acceptable to the public, according to Don Goodman, manager of technical projects with Dallas-based Occidental Chemical Corp.
So-called process-engineered fuels have some public acceptance in polls taken by the American Plastics Council of Washington, he said.
The Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers recently criticized the PVC resin industry for not doing enough to support recycling, but a paper Goodman presented said that ``when mechanical recycling has peaked, alternate recovery options may become both politically and economically important.''
Process-engineered fuels could have a significant impact when the energy industry becomes fully deregulated, the paper said.
Plastics feel squeeze under European fees
The fees that European countries charge the packaging industry to take back material for recycling and recovery put plastic at a big disadvantage compared with glass and cans, according to a United Kingdom firm that specializes in PET market studies.
PCI Ltd., based in Derby, England, said that consumption of plastic packaging fell by 20 percent in Germany from 1993-96.
``Plastics, given its high volume-to-weight ratio, comes out worse in this regard and typically the fees are much higher than for competing materials, such as glass and cans,'' the study said. ``In the large bottle sizes, where PET has no direct competitor, the effect on demand is probably limited, but at the smaller sizes the fees represent a significant distortion.''
The charge for a 10-ounce PET container in Germany, for example, is about 76 percent higher than the same-size aluminum container and 32 percent higher than glass.
APC chair cites need for electronics group
The business of recycling electronics goods needs a formal organization that includes all members of the supply chain, according to a leader of the American Plastics Council's electronics recycling effort.
``We're doing a pretty good job, [but] we need to formalize it,'' said Jack Benson, chairman of the American Plastics Council's Information Technology Industries Subcommittee and business development director of durables for Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich.
He made the proposal during a speech at ARC '97.
A more-formal effort would help with corporate image, forestall potentially onerous legislation and demonstrate that plastics from durable goods have value, he said.
The plastics industry has made formal efforts with appliance manufacturers and auto companies, he said. A unit of the private, nonprofit National Safety Council has organized an electronics recycling round table, but Benson said it needs more industry representation.