In response to your April 26, Page 4 story “Plastic bits end up in marine life's diet; Research project briefs government on harsh effects,” the California Film Extruders and Converters Association would like to provide our industry perspective.
CFECA recognizes the public concern over environmental issues associated with plastic bags, particularly litter, including marine litter, and waste diversion. We have always and continue to support the three R's (Reduction, Reuse and Recycling) as the primary means to the environmental issues.
Charles Moore was a featured speaker at our March 9 meeting, and he presented his findings in a very professional manner on the environmental effects of small particles, including resin pellets. At the dinner, when asked what Dr. Moore expects from our industry and organization relative to his findings, he replied to support Operation Clean Sweep. As a former president of an industry organization, Dr. Moore stated that he recognizes the needs of business and industry and wants to work together to achieve some environmental goals with this litter and marine issue.
Operation Clean Sweep is a program designed for zero pellet loss at the processor level, and the program is sponsored by the American Plastics Council and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. CFECA also endorses Operation Clean Sweep, and has been on the front line in gaining processor support.
CFECA has been proactively working closely for the last six months with the California Coastal Commission, Dr. Moore and the Algalita Foundation on this very issue. Our industry recognizes that plastic pellet containment is critical, and we work in conjunction with APC and SPI to ensure our processors are as clean as possible in our state. CFECA and its members already recognize current laws that demand proper resin pellet containment. If these laws are violated, companies in California will be cited and penalized. We as an industry can set the tone and take the first step by being responsible with our facilities and within our own organizations.
While some of Dr. Moore's collection methods and conclusions may be scientifically questionable (i.e., the statistical method of sampling and collecting water vs. plastic in the North Pacific gyre and what happens to the small plastic bits as they degrade), CFECA recognizes that there are many environmental issues raised by plastic products. CFECA welcomes industry leaders to develop and conduct research on environmental effects of plastics, and we have many members in our association such as Heritage Plastics and Atofina who are working on degradable additives that may have a role in mitigating the litter problem.
The public recognizes there is a problem, and thus, government is looking at ways to solve the problem. An approach of working together to find effective and business-friendly ways of dealing with the problem seems to be a practical approach that will provide a win-win situation for all.
California Film Extruders and Converters Association
Newport Beach, Calif.