With our first issue of 2002, Plastics News updates and restates its agenda for the industry. This plan helps to guide our editorial positions and gives 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. 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.
Making the community aware of the size and importance of the plastics industry is a priority. Plastics is the fourth-largest U.S. manufacturing industry, measured by value of shipments, and (including suppliers) provides some 1.5 million jobs. Even so, 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. The effort would be best served through a merger of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. and American Plastics Council. If that is no longer possible, then SPI needs to find a way to boost its resin supplier membership and continue to attract and involve more processor members.
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 encourage good workers to stay 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.
Organizations 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 to recover 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 sending an e-mail to [email protected] Please include your name, company and location if you would like us to publish your thoughts as a letter to the editor.