PN plastics agenda misses industry needs
Your proposed agenda for the plastic industry (Jan. 1 Viewpoint, Page 6) appears to be strictly a social agenda and a decidedly left wing one at that. Nowhere does it address major industry needs such as advancing technology, increasing efficiency, developing new markets and defending against predatory pricing pressures. An industry consisting exclusively of socially motivated but stagnant and unsuccessful businesses will shortly become a non-industry of no benefit to society.
Some major problems facing the industry today are attacks from the environmental left. Some of their concerns are justified, many are greatly exaggerated, and some have no scientific basis whatsoever. Yet publications such as yours treat them all as factual, objective and advanced with the purest motives but give little play to industry response and facts that you dismiss as biased.
I am reminded of one of the earliest broadsides from years ago, an attack on PVC conduit as being extremely toxic when ignited and a major threat to safety. It made national headlines while response from industry was generally ignored and little effort made to determine true facts. It was advanced primarily by one "public interest group" and was much later revealed to have been funded by a prime manufacturer of the steel conduit that PVC was replacing.
Your agenda further seems to define free trade as consisting solely of imports with no mention of inequalities that limit our export potentials. You suggest putting safety before anything else and greatly expanding workers benefits and compensation. Attractive goals but an unbalanced approach will further erode competition with imports, resulting not in solving social problems but rather exporting them to less concerned countries. This is an export we do not want. For example, we have probably exported half a million jobs from the footwear industry. How much paid family leave do workers making Nikes in the Far East get?
Yes, we must improve our image. Like Mr. Dangerfield, we get no respect. Not from the community, the legislators, Wall Street nor from industry publications such as yours. (Why does deterioration of plastics in obsolete aging museum pieces rate a boxed front page feature?)
Finally, would my mother be proud of the way I do business? She sure would be! And proud of how I am willing take time out to tilt at windmills and write letters to editors and speak out when I see unfairness and bias, no matter how little my efforts might achieve.
Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Plastics helped U.S. win the space race
While time might truly be unkind to the exhibit spacesuits ("Time unkind to spacesuits," Jan. 1, Page 1) worn by the pioneering Apollo astronauts on the moon, a gleaming and resilient message can come from the seemingly vexing impression of plastic that the public may be getting due to the decomposing suits. It is this:
Despite the often shrill and largely uninformed claims of the anti-plastic interests worldwide, America — and the world — can safely deduce that without pioneering plastics usage in the 1960s, humankind would no doubt have been unable to safely land on and explore the lunar surface.
While decomposing that is visibly occurring for all to see at the Smithsonian may allow the anti-plastic forces to relish with glee the obvious "proof" that plastics are no good, it ought to be forcefully and clearly pointed out that more advances in plastics technology, usage and durability have occurred since the era that saw these suits made than can be imagined.
I have a firm suspicion that any cloth or cotton coat worn by Patriots during the American Revolution has not and will not fare a whole lot better in terms of remaining in its original condition.
The message that can be credibly conveyed from this story is that plastics of the type used in this long-bygone era may truly be unstable in the long term, but they fulfilled President Kennedy's original mandate to, "before this decade is out," send a man to the moon — and safely return him to earth.
Jon F. Weinstein
Apex Plastic Industries Inc.