Consumer education and development of bio-sensitive alternatives can revive the plastics industry

May 30, 2003

San Jose, Calif.--May 30, 2003-- With country after country creating legislative and environmental laws to curb the use of plastics, stronger emphasis on recycling and public education on the use and disposal of plastics is vital to the survival of the plastics packaging industry.

"The annual worldwide production of plastics stands at 100 million tons, and even developed countries such as the U.S. recycle only about 27 percent of plastic wastes," says Technical Insights Analyst Don Rosato. "Over the last year, countries including Taiwan, Australia, Ireland, Bangladesh, South Africa, Great Britain, and Singapore have imposed or are considering restrictions, additional taxes, and even bans on the use of plastic bags."

As a result, plastic raw material suppliers and fabricators are going out of business. The close down of over 400 companies in Taiwan and Bangladesh is a warning to the plastics industry to take immediate remedial measures to survive the crisis.

Fighting the negative stereotypes of plastics and educating the public on the correct use and disposal of plastics is the first step.

"The plastics industry and organizations such as the American Plastics Council have been working toward this goal, encouraging economically and environmentally responsible and sustainable plastics recycling," states Rosato. "Consequently, the U.S. plastics recycling business has grown three-fold since 1990, with the plastics industry investing more than $1 billion to support increased recycling."

Allaying the concerns of world governments and environmentalists is another step that will help counter the growing restrictions. Besides recycling, the industry needs to invest in promoting biodegradable resins and developing re-cycling systems to convert plastic bags into reusable scrap or burn them for energy.

The collaboration of two leading chemical companies in the U.S. is already using the nation's abundant corn supply to produce environmental friendly plastics and fibers. Products ranging from mattress pads and golf shirts to soda cups and mini-disc wrappers are active in the market.

"Although these biodegradable products are now more expensive than traditional plastics, once they catch on, they could provide a fresh lease of life to the packaging industry as it proves itself to be more ecologically sensitive," concludes Rosato.

New analysis by Technical Insights, a business unit of Frost & Sullivan (www.technicalinsights.frost.com), featured in The Technical Insights Plastics Advisor, provides valuable insight into the impact of economic and environmental factors on plastics and the plastic recycling industry. It highlights emerging technologies, bio-sensitive alternatives, resource conservation, recycled products, and the laws that affect the plastic industry.
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Frost & Sullivan is a global leader in strategic growth consulting. Acquired by Frost & Sullivan, Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and reports. The ongoing analysis on plastic technologies is covered in The Technical Insights Plastics Advisor, a Technical Insights subscription service. Interviews are available to the press.

The Technical Insights Plastics Advisor

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