Coverage of single-use plastics can be both misleading and demoralizing. Here are 10 tips for changing the perception of the plastics industry at your company and in your community.
People aren't blogging about the ways plastics are keeping kids healthy and safe.
They aren’t tweeting about the millions of jobs the industry has created.
They’re not having conversations in break rooms about how plastics are changing technology for the better.
They’re talking about plastic bag bans. They’re talking about landfills and waste. They’re talking about BPA and phthalates, and they often don’t hear from us.
As a proud member of the plastics industry, you shouldn't be afraid to join the conversation. Address these issues head-on. Be proud to tell our story.
"When people find out you work in the plastics industry, they have questions."
There are 989,000 employees in the U.S. in the plastics industry. Those employees need to be ambassadors and advocates for the materials and the industry they work in.
That's easier said than done when our social feeds are filled with emotionally heavy images like plastic debris damaging our ecosystems and marine life. (For a compelling and uplifting read that you may just relate to, check out Romain Cazenave's recent story "I Work in Plastics - So How Do I Sleep at Night?")
But the topic of marine debris, like so many media soundbites, is one of simple accusations and complex solutions.
Enter This Is Plastics.
Which aims to tell, if not the whole story, at least the rest of the story.
Here at Plastics Technology, we're proud to be a part of the plastics industry because every day we get to not only tell the story of the industry evolving, but push the industry to do better, be better, in every step from design to end-of-life.
We get to write about bioplastics and sustainability initiatives, of increasing recyclability, about the huge transformation we see happening right before our eyes.
You can help tell that story, too.
Change the Conversation
Drinking Straws: Proper disposal is bottom line.
The most widely-cited estimate for the number of straws used or discarded in the U.S. per day—500 million—is based on research conducted in 2011 by Milo Cress—who was nine years old at the time.
That estimate is about 31 times higher than the actual number, according to the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS) which found that, based on 2017-2018 Nielsen data, there were actually about 16 million straws sold in the U.S. per day.
Regardless of how many straws we use, we can all agree that no matter what a straw is made of, it should not end up as litter.
The real challenge is making it easier for everyone to better dispose of straws and other single-use products by enhancing our recycling and recovery technologies.
Plastics don’t belong on the street or in the ocean. Critics are right when it comes to marine debris and litter—waste hurts the environment and animals. It’s why PLASTICS is serious about solving the problem of plastics in oceans and on streets. It’s why the association supports investing in new recycling and recovery technologies and helping people learn to recycle, so that every product, no matter how small, is put to its highest and best use.
Feel empowered to speak knowledgeably.
With This Is Plastics, PLASTICS is empowering you with ways to tell the world what you do and why you do it. The truth about our industry is that plastic is a material that makes a positive impact, produced and used by companies who are more ecologically aware than ever before and making meaningful strides toward sustainability.
Continue the Conversation
The origin of the majority of marine debris might surprise you.
Discarded fishing nets, called “Ghost Nets,” make up almost half of all debris in the ocean. And 20% of the total volume of trash floating at sea is debris from the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.
Countries with poor waste infrastructure also contribute to the problem. In fact, more than half of all land-based plastic waste that entered the ocean in 2010 came from five countries in Southeast Asia.
So, what is the plastics industry doing about it?
The plastics industry recognizes that marine debris is a global issue and is collaborating with associations and entities worldwide to provide education, tools and resources to build and improve waste infrastructure, plastics recycling and the removal of marine debris.
In October 2018, investment firm Circulate Capital announced that it had raised more than $100 million to combat ocean plastics from some of the world’s biggest consumer goods companies—such as PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever and the Coca-Cola Company. The funding will be used to “identify, incubate, and invest in opportunities designed to intercept ocean plastics at the source by collecting, sorting, processing, and recycling waste in South and Southeast Asian countries known to contribute significantly to ocean plastic.”
Furthermore, as of December 2017, approximately 355 global projects to combat marine litter were planned, underway, or completed by organizations that are part of “The Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter,” an industry-wide commitment to reduce ocean pollution.
Be a part of the story.
These are just a few of the stories and resources available to you. Explore This Is Plastics to inspire meaningful discussions with your family, friends, neighbors and the world about the power of plastics.
LEAD the Conversation
10 tips for changing the perception of the plastics industry at your company and in your community.
1. Identify a This Is Plastics Champion
Is it you? Your energetic new hire? The woman who runs your social media accounts? The guy who throws all the best happy hours? Choose someone with passion for the industry to quarterback this initiative.
2. Use the Online Toolbox (Lots of freebies!)
Download support materials - posters, presentations, screensavers, web tiles, infographics and more!
3. Host a Company Meeting
Organize a pizza lunch to deliver the This Is Plastics presentation (PowerPoint? Check!) to your colleagues.
4. Take a (Virtual) Tour
During the presentation, play the This Is Plastics video and the virtual tour of the site for a comprehensive walk-through of everything the site has to offer
5. Hang Posters
Hang the free printable This Is Plastics poster in your break room or common areas, or provide an 8.5×11 or 11×17 poster for employees to take with them.
6. Go Digital
Use the This Is Plastics digital assets in your office. Everything you need is provided. Sample intranet posts, web advertisements, TV graphics, screensavers, article infographics and more.
7. Get Social
Joining the conversation online is admittedly the most intimidating part of this initiative. But This Is Plastics provides guidance for that, too: Shareable resources, guidance for answering tough questions and cool infographics about the important steps the industry is taking.
8. Speak at Career Day
Volunteer to speak at a local community group or school function. Everything you need is provided to make your kids proud and your community feeling invested in your company and its mission.
9. Keep It Going
Send email or intranet posts every month or quarter to remind employees of ThisIsPlastics.com and announce new content.
10. Join PLASTICS
Becoming a member of the Plastics Industry Association joins you to a community that is passionate about helping members set and reach industry-leading environmental goals.
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People have questions about plastics. This Is Plastics is here to help you answer them.