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Do plastics need a new top firefighter?

Do Plastics Need a New Top Firefighter?

You may have heard about the new organization of resin company CEOs calling itself the Partnership for Plastics Progress. It proposes to assume leadership and coordination of the plastics industry's advocacy efforts on the environmental front. Like me, you may have found that this news raised a number of questions. Like who needs a "PPP" on top of COPPE, NAPCOR, NPRC, the Council for Solid Waste Solutions (CSWS), Polystyrene Packaging Council, Vinyl Institute, Plastics Recycling Foundation, and any number of other organizations concerned with plastics' role in the environment? With this new group proposing to vote itself a budget on the order of $50 million, what will that do to financial support for all those other organizations?

After talking with some persons involved in the new Partnership and at other plastics organizations, I think I have at least some answers. I learned, for example, that the PPP has already made progress toward one of its goals - increasing industry participation. PPP has signed up 27 major resin producers - more than any other group - with pledges of something like $50 million a year (still to be settled) in "new money," approximately equal to the combined budgets of all the other major plastics environmental organizations.

Another aspect of PPP's self-appointed mission makes sense: bringing overall coordination to the welter of communication, education and lobbying activities on plastics in the environment. Eliminating duplication of effort is a worthy aim, as is putting a stop to mutually harmful competitive sniping by producers of different plastics about which is "better" for the environment.

PPP also wants to put more communications emphasis on "integrated" waste management - including incineration and landfilling - and not just on recycling. PPP insists it does not mean to downplay recycling, but only to avoid raising unrealistic public expectations that recycling alone can make the solid-waste problem go away. And PPP means to expand its focus beyond solid-waste, to address what it anticipates will be the "next wave" of environmental criticism: toxic emissions from plastics while in use, or from the plants that make them.

PPP proposes to "complement and enhance" those existing industry efforts that it deems worthwhile, but the question remains of how much consolidation of those activities may take place. CSWS, for example, will be folded into the PPP and cease to exist as a separate organization by June. And there is the question of who the new group represents. Right now, PPP consists almost entirely of resin companies. What about the processors and end users, who are major participants in the other organizations? PPP says it wants to include all sectors, too, but the mechanism for doing so has yet to be worked out.
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Title Annotation:Partnership for Plastics Progress response to environmental challenges
Author:Naitove, Matthew H.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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