PLA moratorium makes sense
As Plastics News has recently editorialized, there is a strong sentiment in the industry that controversies about a packages' recyclability, such as that over the new bioresin PLA, should be handled by the free market.
Indeed some consumer product and package companies have gone beyond that and acted as if they are entitled to introduce any new package into the marketplace that maximizes their sales objectives, no matter how many hurdles that imposes for its recovery, and recyclers will just have to find a way by themselves to handle it.
That belief is no longer acceptable to recyclers. If I may, I would like to explain why that belief is also fundamentally incompatible with the very free-market principles that its espouses to support those laissez-faire beliefs.
Free markets are said to be the best way to balance the supply with demand for the things people want, and to find the level of production where that supply and demand are brought into balance. Using the marketplace to neutrally arbitrate between buyers and sellers in this way is thought to be the best way to optimize overall human happiness.
However, for that to actually happen, the price of making something needs to reflect all of the costs that go into making it. Otherwise, its price will appear artificially cheap, and more people will buy it than they otherwise would if it were priced higher in order to capture all of the costs associated with its production.
Too often, the price we see only reflects the costs on the books of the manufacturer. Ignored are costs the company may impose on society-at-large, such as when pollutants are emitted from the smokestack at the factory where the product is made that causes the neighbors to become sick and die prematurely. If the company is allowed to continue polluting, it will be able to sell more goods because of its artificially low price. That will inflict more pain on the firm's neighbors than would have been the case if the goods reflected all of the costs its production caused.
When government passes regulations to protect innocent members of the public from being harmed by the production of things other people want, it does not violate economic principles. To the contrary, it makes it possible for the free market to function as intended by sending the correct price signal about how much things really cost.
In this case, some companies do not want their package branded as non-recyclable, because that might adversely affect sales, but they do want someone else, which winds up being the taxpayer, to pay the additional costs to recycle their especially hard-to-recycle packages. That warped view of the world bears no relationship to proper market principles, under which this sort of subsidization would not occur.
That is why most recyclers are today calling for a temporary moratorium on PLA in bottles until the recycling issues have been resolved.
Otherwise the taxpayer will be left to subsidize new and ill-considered packages, which fail to contemplate how their end-of-life can be sustainably handled.
Center for a Competitive Waste Industry
Junk science can be detrimental to health
As I read Angie DeRosa's story about ITW Hi-Cone being unhappy with the misleading depiction of a six-pack carrier in the movie Happy Feet, (Dec. 11, Page 1), I couldn't help but think of the city of San Francisco's ban on polystyrene food-service products in restaurants.
Here we have one geographical area making decisions based entirely on junk science that could affect the entire country. Rather than sound, scientific evidence, decisions are made based upon emotional, anti-plastic rhetoric.
This is much the same as the World Health Organization's ban on the pesticide DDT in the early 1970s. Many of you may not realize that WHO has lifted its ban on DDT for use in the homes of families in Third World nations. The original ban started with a book called Silent Spring, written by Rachel Carson in the early 1960s. She is considered to be the origin of the modern environmental movement that now shackles many industries and products. With her book filled with pseudo-scientific facts and a well-placed political shill by the name of William Ruckelshaus, true science was beaten down. Ruckelhaus was an attorney with ties to the Environmental Defense Fund and was tapped to head up the fledgling Environmental Protection Agency. Despite having verifiable, repeatable facts to the contrary, DDT was banned in the United States because it was deemed hazardous to human life and nature in general. Ruckelshaus is even said to have bragged about his ``streamlining'' the process to e
nsure that DDT was banned. With this ban in effect, many nations suffered a tremendous resurgence in malaria, resulting in millions of deaths, mostly pregnant women and children.
Now, apparently someone at the WHO has dug through the environmental rhetoric and uncovered the truth that DDT isn't the ``devil's potion'' that ecologists reviled.
I'm not saying that stopping the ban on PS in San Francisco is going to save millions of lives. But this ban is being shoved down the throat of the people of San Francisco with the same type of blather. ``Polystyrene is not recyclable.'' Not true, in fact, it's one of the more easily recycled polymers. ``Six-pack carriers kill thousands of birds.'' Another falsehood, since 1989, the plastic used in making these carriers has been, by federal law, photo reactive, expressly designed to fall apart after use and exposure to the elements and sunlight. The Warner Bros. spokeswoman says that one of the film makers, speaking of the films depiction, personally ``saw it in real life.'' My question is: When was that? 1975? Instead of going after the people who actually do the polluting, which is already against the law by the way, they want to hold an entire industry responsible. They know that any financial return from a fined individual pales in comparison to the pay day of fining a co
Right now there are people who are looking into holding legally responsible the people and organizations that shoved the DDT ban down our throats with the false ``scientific facts'' that ultimately ended with millions of deaths. I believe that we should do the same with the people who are trying to foist their baseless plastics bans upon us. Maybe when they are held financially responsible and have to write the checks instead of receiving them, they will stop passing their false rhetoric as scientific fact and quit ignoring the truth when it gets in the way of their crusade.
Show turnout depends on design protection
Plastic companies will attend, sponsor, and participate in events like the ICSID/IDSA design conference if they feel they have a reasonable chance of retaining anything they design and develop. (``Few in plastics attend thriving design forum,'' Nov. 20, Page 6.)
As important as designers are in the process, no one wants their hard-earned property taken to anyone else. Remember, designers and companies parading as designers but really intellectual property consolidators are usually working for the end-user and not the processor.
Show us how to protect these designs, patents, copyrights, etc., and you will see more participation. Otherwise, eight sponsors and exhibitors will be about all you get at the next event as well.
Maryland Thermoform Corp.