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International plastics organizations form joint environmental plan.

No regulatory issue concerns the plastics industry around the world more than the recent upsurge of environmental awareness and attention focused on solid-waste management. The magnitude of this challenge is producing unprecedented cooperation among international plastics industry associations. Members of these organizations have already held one "Global Meeting on Plastics in the Environmental" in the Monaco last October and a second meeting is planned to be held in the U.S. this year. A report on the first meeting was just issued in late April, setting a global agenda for plastics-industry action on the environment.

Participating in that meeting were the Association of Plastics Manufacturers, Europe; Plastics Waste Management Institute, Europe; Plastics Waste Management Institute, Japan; SPI's Council for Solid Waste Solutions (U.S.); Environmental and Plastics Institute (Canada); and Plastics Industry Association (Australia).

Four key challenges to the global plastics industry were discussed:

* Dealing with increased pressure from environmental groups and govenrments to increase recycling;

* Changing incorrect public perceptions and biased media coverage;

* Identifying markets for recyled products;

* Developing technologies to increase viability of recycling and other waste-management tools such as waste-to-energy incineration.

The consensus of the meeting, according to the report, ws that "solid-waste management problems can only be solved by an integrated approach using a combination of source reduction, recycling, waste-to-energy incineration, and landfilling." The meeting committed participating groups to accelerate technical innovation in such integrated waste management and to share knowledge and resources that will increase the rate of change in public attitudes toward plastics.

These were the specific primary goals for concerted action:

* Established of a code of ethics. "There must be responsibility in advertising," the report said. For example, "If materials cannot be recycled in a particular region or area, then those materials should not be advertised as 'recyclable' without appropriate caveats." Other elements of a proposed "code of conduct for plastics disposal" would include consistent bottle and film labeling, and development of a glossary of appropriate terms on packaging for the public.

* Establishment of an effective protocol for common definitions, in order to "standardize language and terms used in reference to solid waste and plastics."

* Monitoring legislative trends more closely. "Sharing the responsibility for developing legislation, in addition to sharing information regardidng legislative trends is an important component," the report said.

* Increasing research and development on recycling, source reduction; waste-to-energy incineration, and so forth.

* Sharing resources and information around the world.

* Standardizing methodology t assess the environmental impact of products and packaging. The report called for "Understanding how a product can impact on the environment from 'cradle-to-grave'... There is a pressing need to create a multidisciplinary, multi-interest group with the global stature to develop a standardized methodology to conduct eco-balance analyses. This methodology should be recognized as the world standard for these types of analyses."

PET Recycling Doubles

Curbside recycling of PET skyrocketed last year. According to the National Association for Plastic Container Recovery (NAPCOR), Charlotte, N.C., more than 1135 U.S. community programs were in place in 1990. That's almost double the number of known PET curbside recycling programs in 1989, accordidng to NAPCOR's national survery. More than 215 million lb of PET were reportedly recycled in 1990, a 13% increase from 190 million lb in 1989. The 1989 figure represented 28% of all soft-drink bottles being recycled.

More than 7.5 million households are now recycling PET, says NAPCOR. PET is included in about two-thirds of the 1710 curbside recyling programs contacted in NAPCOR's survey. The survey also identified an additional 2300 drop-off collection systems for PET containers, bringing the total of PET collection points in the U.S. to at least 3435.

SPI's Council for solid Waste Solutions commissioned a study on the second-most actively recycled plastic container after PET soft-drink bottles--HDPE milk bottles. The recycling rate of plastic milk containers was estimated at less than 1% three years ago; today, the recycling rate has risen to 6.7%

Guidelines for Recycled

Plastics in Food Packaging

SPI's Council for Solid Waste Solutions and the National Food Processors Association will jointy develop guidelines to aid industry in establishing the safety and regulatory compliance of recycled plastics in food packaging. A couple of such applications have already been approved by FDA--recycled PS for egg cartons and depolymerized/repolymerized PET for soft-drink bottles. CSWS and NFPA held the first organizational meeting to set up a joint committee in April. NFPA will provide administrative staff support and lab research for the coalition.
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Author:Block, Debbie Galante
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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