Entering the new millennium, Plastics News is introducing its agenda for the industry.
This plan will guide our editorial positions in future issues. It also should give our readers a blueprint to prioritize their work-related efforts and help manage their companies.
Safety must come first, before shareholders, profit, customers, growth — everything. Plastics processing is a manufacturing business and always will include an element of risk. Processors, suppliers, workers and regulators must work together and share best practices to make the industry a leader in worker and community safety.
Fairness and honesty should be key parts of business relationships. Would your mother be proud of the way you do business? If not, you'd better re-evalute your efforts.
Making the community aware of the size and importance of the plastics industry is a priority. Plastics processing is the fourth-largest U.S. manufacturing industry, measured by shipments, and the total plastics industry (including suppliers) provided 1.52 million jobs in 1999. But the industry suffers from a lack of recognition from legislators, Wall Street and the public.
When possible, the industry should speak with a unified voice. Practically speaking, that effort would be best served through a merger of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and American Plastics Council.
The free market is the best mechanism for raising the standard of living, encouraging democracy and rewarding hard work. Free trade is an important part of the equation, since it inspires stability around the world.
Sometimes free trade will cause sporadic damage to market segments, specific companies and individual workers. The government should minimize that harm, within the spirit of encouraging efficiency rather than sustaining unproductive enterprises.
Government's power to tax should be watched carefully. Tax policies should motivate entrepreneurs and investors, while striving for fairness for all citizens.
Processors must keep good workers in the industry. That means paying a good wage, plus offering attractive benefits, education and training opportunities, and family-friendly policies such as flex time, child-care credits and job sharing.
Companies should strive for diversity in their work forces, including management. Women and minorities represent a substantial, yet underutilized, reservoir of potential talent that the plastics industry should tap.
Recycling efforts must be promoted. Americans have become too comfortable in their habit of throwing away used plastics items. Industry, sometimes intentionally, has encouraged that wastefulness. Recycling, like source reduction and reuse, should be part of an active effort to avoid waste.
Safe waste-to-energy incineration should be part of the solution, but industry should not rely on that remedy. Burning plastics is an ineffective way of recovering all the value already invested in creating the material.
The industry should support a national bottle bill, since bottle-deposit programs have proved effective in collecting a clean, valuable recycling stream.
Tell us what you think of our agenda by e-mailing [email protected].