With our first issue of 2008, Plastics News again updates and restates its agenda for the industry. This plan helps to guide our editorial positions and gives our readers a blueprint to help manage their companies.
* Safety should be every company's top priority. That includes keeping workers safe and also making products that consumers can use with confidence. Processors, suppliers, workers and regulators must work together and share best practices to make the industry a leader in worker and community safety.
* Sustainability is an key priority. Companies should keep the long-term health of the industry in mind as they make decisions about resource utilization, including material selection and energy use.
* Plastics processors need accurate, timely information to help them make informed decisions. They need to have data on the size and importance of the plastics industry, so they can make the public and elected officials aware of the industry's significance as an employer and as a contributor to the economy. They also need information on the benefits of plastics, to combat misguided efforts to ban plastics and replace them with less-desirable alternative materials.
* When possible, the industry should speak with a unified voice. This requires cooperation at the highest levels of the leading trade associations, as well as with international and regional groups, and other business, consumer and environmental organizations. Processor and supplier companies should be encouraged to take an active role in their communities and in relevant trade associations.
* The free market is the best mechanism for raising the standard of living, encouraging democracy and rewarding hard work. Free trade is important, because it inspires stability around the world. Sometimes free trade will harm specific markets, companies and workers. The government should minimize that harm, while remembering to encourage efficiency rather than sustaining unproductive enterprises.
* Government's power to tax should be watched carefully and used sparingly. Tax policies should motivate entrepreneurs and investors, help industry to compete globally and strive for fairness for all citizens. Levying taxes on plastics products should be discouraged, because it can create an uneven playing field based on misconception and negative perception.
* Processors must encourage good workers to stay in the industry. That means paying a good wage and offering competitive benefits. Organizations should strive for diversity in their management ranks.
* Recycling efforts must be promoted. Americans have become too comfortable in their habit of throwing away used plastics items. Products should be designed to take into account recycling, source reduction, health and pollution issues.
* Degradable and bio-based plastics can be a part of the solution to waste problems, but processors should be careful to use them in applications that make sense - for example, in products destined for composting facilities.
* The industry should support a national bottle bill, since bottle-deposit programs have proved effective in collecting a clean, valuable recycling stream.
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Tell us what you think of our agenda by e-mailing Plastics News managing editor Don Loepp at [email protected] Please include your name, firm and location if you would like us to publish your thoughts as a letter to the editor.