SPE writer advocates burning vs. recycling
Editor's note: This letter was addressed to Heidi Melander of the San Francisco-based Northern California Recycling Association's Zero Waste Committee, who wrote the Dec. 16 Mailbag letter ``Plastic cans pose problems.''
Plastic cans pose an opportunity, to thermally recycle.
I think you folks should take the time to look at the true economics of recycling. Very few pounds of the total U.S. plastics production is recycled and what is, is not very economic or healthy for our environment. What needs to be done is:
* Ban landfills in the United States - period. None should be allowed.
* Support thermal recycling - burning all the trash, scrap, etc. - and generate heat, steam, and/or electricity in doing so.
* Accept that plastics recycling is only taking fuel out of our waste streams. Almost 90 percent of the original Btu value of the feedstock for plastics can be recovered in incineration. Also, very little plastics recycling is economic unless subsidized. Recycled-content laws are foolish. Recycled high density polyethylene, for example, costs at least 2 cents per pound more to generate than prime virgin HDPE!
* Accept that it has been proven that incineration is clean, safe, feasible and the best route for processing our waste streams.
Our waste streams are our energy reserve of the future. Zero waste is not going to happen. Thermal recycling can happen.
The whole country needs a public relations program to promote thermal recycling. Industry, environmentalists and all associations and trade groups need to unite and see the light. Yes, unite and see the light of the thermal recycling process.
South Texas Society of Plastics Engineers
Individual companies must address safety
Many of our industry associates and competitors were on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's targeted inspection list for 2002. Yes, our industry does need to improve on our safety record. I strongly agree with Plastics News in ``Keep safety at top of industry agenda'' (Viewpoint, Jan. 6, Page 6).
Though our industry has been targeted, we as individual companies need to take the lead. We all share ingrained attitudes about safety. We need to continue to network to find opportunities for improvement.
I applaud the efforts of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. of Washington for taking the lead in developing an alliance with OSHA. SPI, specifically, is working with the Thermoforming Institute by implementing a Safety Committee. Where else can you learn about common safety issues unless you network with your competitors who share the same issues?
As the Thermoforming Institute's incoming chairman, I personally pledge to keep safety a priority when setting agendas. Our next TI Safety Committee is this spring. I challenge my competitors to get involved.
While out and about, look around and you will be amazed at the blatant disregard for safety compliance. In seconds those near misses could be accidents. Unfortunately, time has run out for our industry and we must make every effort to protect our workers.
Yes, employees need to change their attitude toward safety, but employers need to provide the resources and leadership. Together we can all improve our tarnished reputation. Yes, our workplace industries are down overall, but we need to make continuous improvement and not bury our heads in the sand.
Unfortunately, it took a fatality several years ago for Buckell to really take a serious look at safety. Think you are doing good job? Look some more; we did.
Brian D. Schell
Buckell Plastic Co. Inc.