I wrote about plastics companies using social media last week, so today let's tackle a related topic -- critics of the plastics industry using social media. A reader suggested that I check out the entry for Polyethylene in Wikipedia. A section titled "Environmental Issues" says, in part:
The wide use of polyethylene makes it an important environmental issue. Though it can be recycled, most of the commercial polyethylene ends up in landfills and in the oceans (notably the Great Pacific Garbage Patch). Polyethylene is not considered biodegradable, as it takes several centuries until it is efficiently degraded.The reader suggests that the author of that section "clearly [has] an anti-plastic agenda." I'll say this -- there's an anti-plastics spin. That's also typical of many blogs and other social media sites that tackle plastics-related issues. Sometimes these blogs have connections to mainstream media Web sites -- for example, check out the plastics-related posts in the "Julie's Health Club" blog on the Chicago Tribune's site. The Tribune connection certainly would tend to give this blog credibility, at least with some readers. Does it matter when dozens of blogs highlight issues like phthalate and BPA safety, or marine debris? I think so. Many of these Web sites come up pretty high in search engine results. So every time someone hears a rumor or sees a news report about plastics and the environment and decides to go online for more information, this is what they'll find. Likewise for students who are doing plastics-related reports and science fair projects. The plastics industry can't wish away its problems -- or pretend that social media sites that highlight them (sometimes with an anti-plastics spin or agenda) don't exist.