With our first issue of 2009, Plastics News again updates its agenda for the industry:
* 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 a 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. Processors need tools that conserve energy, reduce waste and help them to operate efficiently. Materials suppliers must offer products that balance cost and performance, help to shrink the industry's carbon footprint and always keep customer safety as the No. 1 goal.
* The industry should combat misinformation and work to improve public attitudes by publicizing information on the benefits of plastics. Bans and taxes that would encourage replacement of plastic products with less-sustainable alternative materials should be discouraged.
* 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.
* When possible, the industry should speak with a unified voice. This requires cooperation at all 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 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 encourages efficiency and inspires stability around the world.
* 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.
* Processors must encourage good workers to stay in the industry by offering competitive pay and 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.
* The industry should support state and national bottle bills, since bottle-deposit programs have proved effective in collecting a clean, valuable recycling stream.
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.