We agree with [staff reporter] Rhoda Miel that the North American vinyl and plastics industries need to be proactive on the environment [“Time to get green while gettin's good,” Viewpoint, Nov. 17, Page 6.] But where did she get the idea that the lack of government pressure gave us “an excuse to avoid” action?
The U.S. vinyl industry was one of the first to recognize that hand sorting is not economically feasible for large-scale recycling of packaging materials. We were at the forefront in helping to develop technologies that allow plastics to be separated automatically.
We recently put funding into a European feedstock recycling program that would take vinyl building and other products back to their chemical constituents. That research continues in Japan.
VI has also supported growth plans of individual recyclers. Our vinyl recycling database of some 280 processors and manufacturers (accessible at www.vinyl info.org) is partly an outgrowth of this support.
VI contributes importantly to building a recycling infrastructure. Millions of pounds of post-consumer vinyl are recycled each year along with more than 1 billion pounds of post-industrial vinyl.
Finally, recycling tells only part of the story. Vinyl resin makers practice stewardship. They have worked consistently over time to reduce emissions and support their communities through improved operations, outside advisory panels, open houses and events such as blood drives. U.S. dioxin emissions have been falling for decades, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. They are down more than 90 percent just since the late 1980s, during which time vinyl production tripled.
Plastics News has been writing about vinyl recycling for more than 15 years. We've been working on it that long. A trip to our online database of vinyl recyclers would have provided evidence of that work and made for a better story. And, while we're not where we'd like to be, we continue to work to improve.