The time has come to exorcise the intellectual demons which some in the environmental community call forth to attack vinyl. To cast out these demons, the vinyl industry has one weapon: the truth.
For a decade, the industry has watched as its critics, led by Greenpeace, conjured up everything from ``the precautionary principle'' to bad science in their campaign against a wide array of essential vinyl products. After watching their efforts, I've come to the conclusion that they have absolutely nothing positive to contribute.
On the other hand, we welcome the opportunity for dialogue with the thoughtful, constructive environmentalists who foster concepts like protecting public health, sustainability and pollution prevention. We're prepared to listen to them and work with them to help improve our environmental performance.
But the naysayer radicals are another matter. They present nothing more than a constant litany of negative messages about what we shouldn't do. They won't come forward with positive, responsible suggestions because they believe that business and industry do nothing more than plot to make money at the public's and the environment's expense. Their mumbo jumbo is absolutely untrue and should be rejected out of hand.
Let's look at the truth about vinyl:
Despite Greenpeace's protestations, extensive third-party tests show that vinyl toys using phthalates are safe for children of all ages. In more than 40 years, no child has ever been harmed by vinyl toys.
Vinyl intravenous and blood bags are proven safe and are overwhelmingly endorsed by medical experts. In more than 40 years, no patient has ever been harmed by vinyl medical products, and millions have been helped by our products.
The world's largest study of commercial incinerators shows that vinyl in the waste stream does not create dioxin in properly designed and operated incinerators.
Extensive voluntary testing, shared with the Environmental Protection Agency and peer-reviewed, proves that the vinyl industry is an insignificant source of dioxin — responsible for less than 1 percent of dioxin emissions, and we are already working to lower that. Yet Greenpeace continues the blatant falsehood that we are the world's largest source of dioxin. Why believe anything they say when truth means so little to them?
The use of vinyl in electrical applications continues to grow despite the false allegations that vinyl material was responsible for major fires in the past. In every case, investigations have proven the charges against vinyl false. In fact, vinyl is fire retardant.
I'm very proud of the vinyl industry and the thousands of caring men and women in it, in Geon Co. and elsewhere. These people, including some very good scientists, want to help make the world a better place to live. They work at it every day.
I'm proud of the important contributions the vinyl industry has made for the last half-century in saving lives and improving health care, conserving energy in homes, protecting our food, making cars more fuel efficient, transporting our water supply and generally improving the quality of life.
We have learned how to bring superior value and cost effectiveness to almost every facet of American life, and learned how to do it responsibly and with respect for the environment. The radicals' claim that vinyl has not passed their test ignores the fact that it has passed the test of time for men, women and children over more than five decades — safely and efficiently and at a lower cost than most other materials.
Projections show that newer vinyl products, like the all-vinyl house, will make a major contribution to society in the next 25 years. Anyone who has sympathized with the plight of Kosovo refugees has seen how vinyl tenting materials has provided at least some cover for families.
Writing in the April 16 edition of Science magazine, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder says, ``Shaping the future responsibly means facing up to new uncertainties and imponderables and requires the courage to take risks to ensure that we do not squander our opportunities. Just as it is right to acknowledge that modern technology has brought with it new risks, it must also be said that there is no going back. ...
``Through the development and widespread use of energy-saving and resource-conserving technologies, we can reconcile economic growth with the protection of the environment. Through such innovations we will succeed in the future.''
The vinyl industry, here and around the world, will succeed in the future as we continue to raise our standard of service to society and to improve our environmental performance. The demons of doubt can't stop our contribution to the world because the world won't let them, and we certainly won't stop giving the world our best. That's the truth.
Patient is retiring this week as chief executive officer of PVC maker and compounder Geon Co. He will remain chairman until August.