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Can sustainability wait for economic recovery?

The call to action is serious, even critical.As the economy staggered from bad to worse last fall, we thought about changing one of IMM’s 2009 goals, which had been to create a Sustainability Resource for you on our website, imm.plasticstoday.com. It seemed to us that the survival of our business was more important than greening up.

The call to action is serious, even critical.

As the economy staggered from bad to worse last fall, we thought about changing one of IMM’s 2009 goals, which had been to create a Sustainability Resource for you on our website, imm.plasticstoday.com. It seemed to us that the survival of our business was more important than greening up.

But after a fair amount of time digging through the immense amount of available information on (and nonsense about) sustainability, it’s clear that survival is sustainability, and vice-versa.

I’m still focused on survival of our plastics molding business, but I’m compelled to point out that it is part of a larger issue. And that would be a little matter of the survival/sustainability of human life as we know it on planet Earth.

That sounds ominous, because it should. The more deeply I went into this issue, the more evidence I found that the global situation is already very serious—arguably critical in some respects. Our industry’s situation is also serious, which is why you will find on p. 30 the first article in a series we’ll run this year on sustainability.

The article is actually a guide to the Sustainability Resource on our website. We’re just starting it up and we’ll be adding to it continually. You are invited to add to it as well. The amount of material on the subject is already vast, and the number of organizations devoted to it is large and growing.

Unfortunately, we should have started our plan to save the planet, and our industry, two or three decades ago. If not now, when?
I’m aware of those who deny there is a serious problem, with either our future on Earth or our industry in particular. I will not waste a second arguing with anyone denying we have an environmental problem because, in point of fact, it should be called a crisis. Get into it and you’ll see.

As for our industry, please note the following paragraph from a special report on the earth’s oceans in The Economist (Dec. 30, 2008): “More alarming still is the plague of plastic. The UN Environment Programme reckoned in 2006 that every square kilometre of sea held nearly 18,000 pieces of floating plastic. Much of it was, and is, in the central Pacific, where scientists believe as much as 100m tonnes of plastic jetsam are suspended in two separate gyres of garbage over an area twice the size of the United States.”

On top of the recent attacks on BPA, the long-running attacks on PVC, and many other negatives, plastic is now labeled a “plague” by a conservative publication that is anything but antibusiness.

This is not a pretty picture. Rather, it’s a call to action, but to whom? It’s to you, and to me, but most importantly, it’s up to us collectively. We are in this together. The Sustainability Resource will help us get connected and take action. You know the saying that starts, “When the going gets tough . . .”? Well, let’s get going.

Rob Neilley, Editor in Chief
[email protected]

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