InterviewUS plastic-bag business fights misconceptions

26 March 2009 21:56  [Source: ICIS news]

By Al Greenwood

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US plastic-bag industry has begun an effective - if belated - response to environmental misconceptions about its product, an executive said on Wednesday.

“We have taken huge steps to have more of a unified voice,” said Derek Gowdy, vice president of supply management for Hilex Poly, a plastic-bag producer. Before, the industry responded with a fragmented voice, if at all, he said.

Gowdy spoke to ICIS news on the sidelines of the 2009 World Petrochemical Conference, held in Houston by Chemical Market Associates Inc (CMAI).

To combat misconceptions, Hilex Poly created a position within the company, a vice president of environmental affairs, Gowdy said.

The vice president keeps track of proposed bans and taxes and addresses misleading reports about plastic bags, he said.

Many consumers think that plastic bags are the top killer of marine life, he said. In fact, fishing nets are the top killer.

Others believe that plastic bags are derived from crude oil, he said. In the US, they come from natural gas.

In addition, many still believe that paper bags are environmentally harmless, he said.

Attacking the misconceptions has met with some success, Gowdy said. This year, there are about 80 proposals to either ban or tax plastic bags in the US, down from 147.

Given the extent of misinformation, however, Gowdy said the industry needs a larger voice that includes petrochemical producers as well as plastic processors.

Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives in Green Chemistry
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By: Al Greenwood
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