The American Chemistry Council.


Image: Enviroblog;
from article: Industry challenges ban on phthalates in kid’s toys.

In their words;

ACC believes that information and dialogue have the power to create change: in our industry, in our communities, and in our world. Our member companies are investing in the future through community outreach projects, ground-breaking research, and initiatives that protect public health and the environment. Learn more about ACC and its programs and initiatives.

Like many organisations these days an environmental sheen graces the front page of their website. It oozes PR and slick communication strategy.

However the ACC have recently been exposed by the San Francisco Chronicle as not living up to that image of caring about the consequences of their actions.

The SF Chronicle has done a very good update on the North Pacific garbage patch, claimed to be a hugh area of ocean full of plastics and other rubbish. The Chronicle approached the ACC to see if they might have a solution to this mess as it’s their member companies that produce these plastics for use.

This was their response;
Keith Cristman, a senior director of packaging at the American Chemistry Council, said the plastics industry is aware of its connection to marine debris and said the council is working with federal and state agencies to put more recycling bins on California beaches in an attempt to stop plastic bottles and bags from making their way to the sea.

At the end of November, Cristman said, the council is co-sponsoring its first marine debris workshop with state and federal agencies.

Cristman said he’d rather see more plastic recycled than production slowed.

“Plastic is a valuable resource,” he said. “It shouldn’t be wasted, it should be recycled.”

Asked if the council would assist in any cleanup of the Garbage Patch if the federal government called on it, Cristman said, “We’re always interested in working with NOAA and the EPA.”

So it’s a few recycling bins and a workshop. Hmmm, are the ACC impotent, plain daft or shirking from their responsibilities?

If we are to tackle major environmental problems all sectors of society need to be involved. Having the source of the problem on board is of course crucial.

Come on Mr American Chemistry Council. Wake up and rise up to the challenge.

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6 Responses to The American Chemistry Council.

  1. Pete Smith says:

    Hang on, where’s my Devil’s Advocate hat? I do think it’s a bit rich to put all the reposnsibility for this mess on the ACC. Surely it’s down to the jerks that dump the stuff.
    I would accept that there’s a role for the ACC in investigating alternatives to plastic, within their sphere of influence.

  2. matt says:

    Yeah, such as improving biodegradable plastics. But no, obviously they didn’t ride the ocean waves and dump all that plastic waste out there. They’re just the start of the plastics chain, so to speak.

  3. Pete Smith says:

    From what I can gather they wouldn’t have to ride the ocean waves anywhere, just chuck the stuff out of the window and it ends up in the North Pacific. I love that quote from Charles Moore “The ocean’s downhill from everywhere”.

    As for biodegradable plastic, that may be more difficulty than you think. Plastic that’s engineered to degrade in landfill might not degrade in sea water. I’m no chemist (well, a B at A level 40 years ago) so a bit of research might be in order on that one.

    SO much to do, so little time.

  4. earthpal says:

    Prevention and making people aware would be a good start.

    Pete’s right that the irresponsible people who dump their plastic are accountable for this marine-debris but the ACC shouldn’t get off lightly. After all, if they’ve made a commitment to a more responsible environmental policy and a pledge to consider public health then they’re obliged to abide by it.

    But after having a quick read-up on the ACC, it seems they are lobbying here, there and everywhere to avoid bills being passed that will regulate plastics manufacturing. Not really living up to the pledges quoted above.

    Plastic is forever. Charles Moore says (and I paraphrase because I can’t find the link) that when the oil runs out we will start mining our landfill sites and that is the great contradiction of our times – the popularity of disposable products that are made to last forever.

    He’s right. It’s totally ironic that we have a durable product that will last for years and years and what do we do with it? Dump it and make another one.

  5. matt says:

    Yes exactly EP, The ACC have made their public commitment to health & the environment then fight tooth & nail to oppose useful measures in that direction. Two faced policy is all I get from that.

  6. Pete Smith says:

    Plastics is just one aspect of the ACC’s work. The fine, and to be honest pretty meaningless, words about the environment you quoted are just the conventional generic statement you get on the home page of most organisations. If you dig just a bit you’ll find that the ACC is taking action on plastics in the environment; see http://www.opcleansweep.org/
    ACC have taken the view, quite reasonably in my view, that their prime responsibility is to prevent the release of plastics into the environment during the manufacture process, much the same as any other chemical. Their concern is with safety during manufacture, storage and transport. They don’t feel they have a role in controlling what the world at large does with the stuff.

    Like many specialists, plastics guys are enthusiasts. The last thing they want is for their ‘baby’ to be single-use, throwaway stuff. Rightly or wrongly, they see plastic as a valuable resource with many benefits. That’s why they emphasise recycling and don’t buy into the idea of reducing production (although they may have to as the price of oil, and energy generally, rises)

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