Regarding the Jan. 1 Viewpoint in Plastics News, the industry does not need a national bottle bill. The industry does need to evaluate how to improve and increase recycling efforts. I also disagree with Pat Franklin of the Container Recycling Institute. I now see why the industry has the recycling problems that we do. We have bureaucrats or federal government "wannabes" infesting our ranks or at least the public outlets of our industry.
Have either the Container Recycling Institute or Plastics News examined local programs for recycling? I live in a town with a curbside recycling program that does not take all plastics. Many of my neighbors do recycle. Now I know that is something that deposit program proponents do not want to hear. Successful curbside programs are becoming more common.
The biggest problem here in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is that not all plastics are recycled. I know that my community of Rockwall and our neighbor of Rowlett do not take polypropylene materials. Examine the recycling codes on 90 percent of the grocery store packaging, excluding margarine/butter and milk. These containers are made of polypropylene. The yogurt industry is almost exclusively polypro. My family rinses each container, whether recycled or land filled, which helps insure a good feedstock. People I have talked to about this follow the same steps. Why do we not have PP recycling? The answer is that it is not cost feasible for the local waste-collection agencies.
Recycling is a matter of economics. If the waste-collection agencies find sortation uneconomical, then there is no feedstock for an industry that craves feedstock. Local grocery stores will happily place groceries in plastic bags. After all, these bags are more economical for the stores to print and use than paper. Try to recycle old bags at these stores. I was told by one Ohio-based national grocery chain that they discontinued their in-store recycling of plastic grocery bags due to it being cost ineffective.
We are naive as an industry if we think that deposit programs are the answer. If we support them on bottles, why not all plastic containers (including plastic grocery bags)? After all, the industry would be saying that this is the only way to get recycling efforts up.
Let me close by saying that I am a huge proponent for all types of plastic recycling. I have been at a position at a former employer that allowed me to purchase more than half a million pounds of post-consumer materials a month. I desired to purchase a more diverse material selection than just high density polyethylene, but it was not possible. What the industry should support is development of technologies, practices and techniques that make plastic recycling a financial benefit to all industries and the public as a whole. If retailers and municipalities find it quick, easy, and economical to recycle, recycling will grow.
Don Rakow Jr.