It's an attack of the anachronism.
Don Loepp's appeal ("Industry should embrace talk of benefits, responsibility of plastics," April 16, Page 6) is correct about addressing "growing consumer sentiment in favor of restricting, or even banning, single-use plastics." It's not the first time he's posited that logic.
However, the last 70 years — from the beginning of the paper industry's attack on plastic garment bags in the 1950s — the plastics industry's response has been pitifully weak and ineffective. Think not? Look where the industry is today. Search PN's archives for bags, bottles, clamshells and bans — let alone fees and taxes.
The most remarkable aspect of the battle is that on the grounds of product performance, economic advantages, and total life cycle resource conservation and disposition, plastic products have delivered superior benefits compared to their materials competition. Plastics have been the stellar performer for consumers and businesses in all use and cost benefits measurements.
But the public — consumers, educators, news media and government — has come to disdain, even hate, the thought and appearance of things plastic. In its early decades, plastics were merely "cheap." Today, plastics are a "scourge."
Recent intraindustry appeals in PN from corporate officials and PN's editorials for assertive public positioning of plastics' benefits and contributions are too late. The war over the public image of plastics was lost years ago. The only hope it had — as confirmed by public audience measures of improved image at the time — existed for a short time in the early 1990s when the Partnership for Plastics Progress effectively communicated in messages delivered and dollars spent … for a pitifully short period of time. Industry leaders killed it, despite public attitudes changing positively. So, attitudes turned negative again, leading to 21st century disdain.
From the very beginning, the industry allowed its adversaries to define the battles. Ultimately, as is evident today, the industry lost the war at local, state and national levels. Now begging industry participants to become plastics evangelists is a waste of time, especially since no one is offering any leadership in messaging to which consumers, educators, news media and government can relate, let alone accept. Why? Because plastics industry leadership always allowed its enemies and detractors to define the war, so the industry always embraced a failing defense.
In a Dec. 6, 2016, article about California's voter ban on plastic bags, the Plastics Industry Association opined this: "... the increased investment in plastics production from shale gas and more of a focus on manufacturing in Washington give the industry chances to emphasize its contributions."
That is not a contention that evangelists can embrace nor consumers understand, let alone accept. As a public education communications point, it's an absurdity.
Lecturing to Californians that "the(ir) real problem (is) needed improvements in solid waste management systems to protect the environment and citizens as well as prevent all materials from polluting waterways and land" is a silly sermon.
Advocacy without rational messages wastes time and money. It is not sustainable.
George A. Makrauer
The Villages, Fla.