Houston — Like conjoined twins who sometimes disagree, the image of plastics is linked to the challenge of what to do with plastic waste.
"The last six months to a year have been pretty uncomfortable, with images of beaches and sea animals affected by plastic," Patty Long said June 5 at Global Plastics Summit 2019 in Houston. Long is interim president and CEO of the Washington-based Plastics Industry Association.
The body blows sustained by the plastics industry included more than 400 bills looking to ban or limit plastic usage in the United States, as well as a critical June 2018 cover story in National Geographic magazine.
But the industry has responded by proposing federal legislation in the form of the Recover Act, which would use federal funding to incentivize investments at the state and local levels that could be used on projects such as retrofitting equipment at material recycling facilities (MRFs). Long said June 5 that the legislation will be proposed in the next couple of weeks.
On the positive side, Long said, recent challenges have led to "more thoughtful dialogues" about the role of plastics. Valerie Craig, deputy to the chief scientist and vice president of programs at National Geographic, even took part in a recent Plastics Industry Association event on sustainability. "The industry is stepping up," Long added.