On Oct. 2, Don Loepp posed the question, "Who's defending plastics manufacturing?" in reference to events in the town of Lockport, N.Y. Don is right to ask this, as our industry needs to do more to defend against dishonest attacks from activists. The Vinyl Institute (VI) and our members are defending our industry by rebutting false claims, highlighting the benefits of our products, investing in research and development efforts to make our industry more sustainable, and attending the United Nation's plastic waste treaty discussion.
Our industry is no stranger to misinformation, and at the VI, we work to identify and refute these inaccuracies daily. When our team heard about the misinformation being directed at PVC in Lockport, we offered factual information to the town's Industrial Development Agency. While we had no tie to the company proposing to set up shop in Lockport, we stepped up to counter false narratives and self-published our op-ed after The Buffalo News did not allow us equal time. The VI plays a crucial role in setting the record straight, and we urge our industry partners to join us in calling out activist misinformation.
While countering misinformation is vital, it is also important to show just how much good our industry is doing throughout the country. The VI is committed to highlighting PVC as a material necessary for modern life. We draw attention through a robust series of blogs and press releases, social media postings on LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter), and by releasing research such as our PVC Pipes Report. The vinyl industry is key to delivering clean drinking water, building energy-efficient homes, and lifesaving medical products, and the VI will continue to showcase this importance.
Beyond rebutting misinformation and highlighting benefits, we also need to invest in tangible solutions to problems facing our industry. One falsehood we often hear is that PVC cannot be recycled. Not only is this incorrect, with over 1 billion pounds recycled last year, but the PVC industry is actively working to improve recycling through our VIABILITY program. With funding made possible from four major PVC resin manufacturers — Formosa, Oxy, Shintech, and Westlake — the VI has granted funding in research and development to drive significant advancements in post-consumer recycling. We also recently provided grants for three students to attend Vinyltec, the leading technical conference pertaining to the vinyl industry. The VI is committed to helping set up the next generation of leaders in the vinyl industry for success.
The VI represented the U.S. PVC industry at the United Nations meetings in Paris and did so again in the INC3 meeting in Nairobi. Widespread misinformation has led many nations to consider bans or restrictions on PVC, and we will be on the front line defending the industry at these international forums. Our industry tried to ensure the United Nations discussions in Nairobi were scientifically based and that those in attendance did not deprive communities around the globe of vital materials for life.
By working together to debunk false claims, shining a light on the positive impact of our products, and promoting sustainability and forward thinking, the industry can better defend itself against activist attacks and regulatory overreach. Don was right to ask who is defending plastics, and while we can emphatically say the VI is proud to be doing our part, we encourage all companies throughout the value chain to join us.
Ned Monroe is president and CEO of the Washington-based Vinyl Institute.