(March 14, 2008) — “Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves,” cautions the Duchess in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Logical, then, that the American Chemistry Council first sent the sound — that it has hired a former conservation associate for the Sierra Club as director of the Progressive Bag Affiliates — and only later presented that sound as though it made sense.
A quick search on the string “plastic bags” on www.sierraclub.org's Web site brings back about 1,200 total results. Here's just one of those many results with unique brilliance from the Sierra Club [from its online “Hey, Mr. Green” question-and-answer environmental advice column by Bob Schildgen].
Question from Barclay in San Francisco: “Hey Mr. Green, I challenge you. Pick your poison: paper or plastic?”
Answer from Mr. Green: “They don't even need to ask this question in Ireland, South Africa, Taiwan, Bangladesh, or other countries with fees to discourage throwaway bags or with outright bans on the damn things.” (www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200503/ mrgreen.asp)
I would love to have been a Cheshire Cat on the wall during ACC's discussions about how to address the continuing perceived value distress pervading the U.S. bag and other segments of the plastics industry, driven by bad science, worse politics, and a plastics industry resin segment that forsook its leadership responsibilities of industry and materials stewardship over a decade ago. How did ACC rationalize their best choice as being someone from outside the industry, to put it kindly? Exactly what comprises her “good, strong knowledge of environmental issues,” [Plastics News, “New PBA hires ex-Sierra Club associate,” Feb. 18, Page 5] despite absolutely no claimed direct experience in plastics? Were there no equally competent, but plastics-experienced professionals from within the industry with a “good, strong knowledge of environmental issues,” combined with experienced skill in plastics industry advocacy?
These resin folks are the same ones who hired as head of the long-gone and never-productive Council for Solid Waste Solutions an experienced beer industry association exec. (To any readers who accuse me of being unfair with that criticism, I posit that had the CSWS been effective as the industry's first “voice of reason,” we would not have seen the demise of plastics' image with the public, as it has plummeted over the past three decades — locally, nationally and internationally. Yes — multinational megacorporations are responsible for what happens internationally.)
Who — inside or outside the plastics industry — is genuinely comforted that “ACC has a $2.5 million campaign in California to educate people about the value of recycling plastic bags, and is providing money for state agencies to purchase recycling bins for state beaches”? Who — in his or her right mind — thinks this expenditure and effort are going to do anything really productive for the environment or the industry, and in California, of all places?
In Wonderland, Alice dreamed this dream: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrariwise, what it is, it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?” [Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney's animated film, 1951]
Alice, you've got a great world and career ahead of you in plastics.
Comad Management Group
Lady Lake, Fla.