Naples, Fla. — The Plastics Industry Association announced that Tony Radoszewski would become president and CEO on July 31, just a week after Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. signaled that they were leaving the trade group.
The departures were announced not by the companies, but by Greenpeace.
A few weeks later, Greenpeace issued a statement that SC Johnson & Son Inc. was leaving the association, followed in November by another Greenpeace announcement, this time about General Motors Co.
At the Plastics News Executive Forum, Radoszewski said the association is responding to the moves that he called "virtue signaling."
"We're starting to get the word out. And I can assure you my responsibility is to do as much as I can to make sure people know what the true story is about plastic," he said.
"We — the collective we — live longer, healthier and better because of plastics and the reason why there is so much plastics is because it is the best material for where it finds itself," Radoszewski said.
He gave this definition of virtue signaling: "The action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments in an attempt to show one's good character or the moral correctness for one's position on a particular issue."
His translation: "I want to tell you how good I am because I'm doing good things. Now, it may not be true, but I feel good about it. That's what virtue signaling is."
As an example, Radoszewski showed a photograph of a beverage display at San Francisco International Airport, which has banned plastic water bottles. Soft drinks in plastic are still allowed. He pointed out some water bottled in aluminum, similar to aluminum beer bottles.
Radoszewski said the aluminum bottles are difficult to recycle because they're made from two different kinds of aluminum and have a layer of lacquer. PET bottles are fully recyclable.
"A lot of brand owners will say things to get the [nongovernmental organizations] off their back, and as soon as their attention is on the next shiny object, they go right back to plastics," said Russell Broome, the Plastics Industry Association's senior director of business development.