Institute's efforts worth more than 'D'
I would like to comment on your May 25 Viewpoint, ``Making the grade in recycling industry.'' In that article you gave the Vinyl Institute a ``D'' stating, ``The industry once had a model program to buy PVC bottles from recyclers. All VI needs to do to end the criticism is to find a way to reinstate that program. Is that really too much to ask?''
As the head of the company that ran the ``model program'' for a resin producer (not the vinyl program), no one knows better than I how technically difficult recycling post-consumer plastics can be. The program worked because California had a law requiring its use and our customers were forced to pay higher than virgin prices to comply with the law.
This captive market gave us the opportunity to improve quality while lowering costs. We brought a high-loss business to break-even and were about to be able to compete with virgin prices by raising volume, which would have used every available reclaimed bottle.
Furthermore, by convincing the recyclers to sell us the bottles at a more reasonable price, we would have been able to sell below virgin prices.
All this came to a crashing halt when California repealed its law taking away the volume necessary to make recycling post-consumer PVC a financially viable business.
Since that time a lot of effort has gone into finding an alternate low-end use for the recycled product.
The problem has been the costs involved in sorting and cleaning the scrap to make it usable. If economics made it difficult in an expensive product, it becomes impossible in a low-end application.
Understandably, California received an ``F'' in last year's Plastics News recycling report card because of this action.
This year, however, California received a ``B,'' leaving the 1996 action still unresolved. And VI gets a ``D'' even after unsuccessful but valiant efforts. It doesn't seem fair. All problems are not that easy to solve.
Report card on VI doesn't make grade
Your readers should know that your information regarding the Vinyl Institute presented in the May 25 ``Recycling report card'' is incorrect. The vinyl industry has never had a program to buy PVC bottles from recyclers. An individual company had such a program in place at one time, but discontinued it some time ago.
Unfortunately, your researchers overlooked the news release the Vinyl Institute issued on this subject just one month ago. In it, we described the program we have under way with the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers, which aims to find a viable, commercial home for post-consumer vinyl bottles. That effort is close to a successful conclusion. When that occurs, it will provide a self-sustaining recycling solution — a far more desirable (and, from experience, realistic) approach than the type of subsidized effort your editorial urges us to undertake.
Thank you for helping set the record straight.
Mark A. Sofman