We’ve all been in this situation. Sometimes it’s with friends. Other times, family. Still other occa-sions, with strangers. It can get exasperating.
It goes something like this: The other party says, “I don’t use (insert plastics product here). In fact I think (— plastics product) should be banned. That stuff is bad for the environment … it doesn’t degrade in landfills … it contains toxins that migrate into my food and water … (fill in other medical/ecological threats here).” Some people will never let facts get in the way of a good scare story, but I think most are open minded and willing to learn. Yet the onus is on us, as an industry, to teach them the truth about plastics.
Fortunately, there is now a handy tool that you can download to your smart phone or tablet—or access on the web if you prefer—that can help you make the case for plastics to skeptics. Just do an app search for Plastics Champion and it will install in a few seconds. Or log onto plasticschampion.org and check it out.
This app was developed by the Society of the Plastics Industry and a variety of other groups. It is designed to coach plastics industry employees on how to “champion” their products and their profession. The material is segmented into six major categories—taxes and jobs, energy and the environment, products, recycling, materials, and workforce. Within each of these six sections are subsections that present general data, statistical data, FAQs, and even videos.
Here are a couple of snippets from the app to give you a flavor of what it contains:
•Recycling: The rate of recycling for plastics in the U.S. has been steadily rising. Fashion designers increasingly are creating clothing using recycled plastics—beyond fleece jackets and into what’s fashionable and hip today. Technologies exist today to recycle every major plastic resin. To continue the growth in plastics recycling, the U.S. must increase its collection of post-consumer plastics.
•Materials: Phthalates are a family of compounds whose primary use is as a vinyl softener. They are colorless, odorless liquids that do not evaporate readily. They provide many product and consumer benefits—public health, performance, and function—and are used in many important applications, from recreational and safety equipment to building and construction materials. With more than 50 years of research, phthalates are among the most thoroughly studied family of compounds in the world and have been reviewed by multiple regulatory bodies in the U.S. There is no reliable evidence that any phthalate has ever caused a health problem for a human from its intended use.
•Products: The U.S. leads the world in plastic bag and film recycling. Some 85% of plastic bags are made from resin derived from natural gas, not oil. Multiple studies show taxes and bans don’t keep plastic litter out of landfill. Without plastic grocery bags, people buy thicker, heavier reusable sacks—and send those to the landfill.
The Plastics Champion material is written so that lay people can understand it. The tool can be especially handy the next time an elected official from your state/county/municipality gets the thought to ban one of the products you happen to produce.
The SPI and other trade groups spend countless hours and lots of money advocating on behalf of this industry—our nation’s third-largest manufacturing sector, by the way, employing more than 900,000 people—but these associations can’t do it alone. Every time a bill gets introduced to ban this or limit that, your job and way of life may be at stake. Don’t tolerate it. Get involved. Get informed. Get this app. And become a champion.