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May 20, 2005


The debate rages on about the safety of plastics and their additives.   No one, I think, wants to do harm and yet we want to make materials and do things with them.  Everytime we turn around someone has found a new problem which shakes the industry to its core. George  D. Bittner has proposed one solution which although at first glance seems very restrictive  may point to the ultimate solution.  That is only use monomers and polymers from these monomers which  are proven to be completely safe.  Similarly use only additives which are proven safe.  The two polymers which pass are polyethylene and polypropylene and antioxidants including ethoxyquin, caronsine and so on.  Obviously this will not solve every problem and even this raises other unanswered questions.  Nevertheless it is an approach that deserves careful study. Lew Weisfeld --- any comment on this? (RDC)

Materials free of endocrine disruptive chemicals


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George D. Bittner's suggestion is right in line with the European "precautionary principle," which simply put is "everything is guilty until proven innocent." Why even suggest that ethylene and propylene are safe? They haven't been tested to death. I'm sure someone somewhere will find something negative to say about these monomers. At one time we thought that butadiene -- now a known carcinogen -- was harmless.

I'll do Bittner one better -- get rid of all plastics! Let's retreat to the caves!

Lew Weisfeld

There is some risk in everything we do. Nothing is "Completely Safe." You can drown in distilled water! The idea is to balance the risk against the benefit. Somehow the environmental folks don't get this.

There is some risk in everything we do. Nothing is "Completely Safe". You can drown in distilled water! The idea is to balance the risk against the benefit. Somehow the environmental folks don't get this.

There is some risk in everything we do. Nothing is "Completely Safe". You can drown in distilled water! The idea is to balance the risk against the benefit. Somehow the environmental folks don't get this.

Hey some comments!! Keep them coming. I think there is a lot of commone sense in Jim and Lou's comments. Vinyl chloride is a case in point. It is hard to imaging a more dangerous or toxic monomer than vinyl chloride, yet the polymer is safe even during degradation. On the other hand, maybe one should consider the possibilities whenever developing a new polymer or commercializing a new polymer. Perhaps this could lead to new and safer alternatives without stifling progress. (RDC)

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I am posting this blog to bring awareness to the plastics industry of the potentials that lie in plastics recycling. Review of national trends toward waste recycling, alternative fuels and and alternate energy sources. I've recently jumped fence, so to speak..I have been working for a large Michigan firm as a process/ robotics engineer in the plastic injection industry. My interest was first ebbed by a "town hall meeting" chaired by Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's governor. I must admit, I was pessimistic at first of the notion that Michigan could potentially make the conversion from automotive production to alternative production sources. I felt as though the state was grasping at straws due to a flailing economy. But the more research I have put into this hypothesis, the more I see the validity of its conception. The federal government has set goals to increase the amount of recyclable diversion to 35% nationally. The need for more recycling centers is immense, and it is clear to me that there is a new potential market emerging..recycled plastics. Currently, the profit margin is minimal... largely because of the instability of recycled material pricing and the cost of transportation. Virgin material costs remain stable due to the stability of production facilities, while recycling center production fluctuates. There is also a misconception that exists in the minds of consumers that recycled materials don't possess the same quality capabilities. A movement towards educating the public as to the potentials of reusing plastic and moving them towards defining our industry's need to develop an environmental mindset by what they purchase is dire...and the ending impact would make the utilization of recycled plasticsnot only desirable...but cost efficient as well. The technology exists to create efficient and profitable recycling operations of the plastics products we produce. By means of the technical leaders of our industry, we not only have the capability of making the notion of cost-effective recycling operations possible, but we have an industry-wide responsibility to the consumers of this nation to do so. I challenge all of you to see the importance of this for our children...for our children's children..and ask that you make swift and active movements toward making this a viable and standard manufacturing mindset by using the same engineering capabilities we use in daily product production to develop recycling as an industrial revolution towards supporting the environment around us. I have personally removed myself from plastics production, and intend to focus over 23 years of industry experience on the development of Michigan's current recycling failure. We as a state are currently near the bottom in regards to our efforts to reduce our production of waste. As a state, we currently only recycle 19% of our waste, in comparison to a 27% national average. We have been at the forefront of automotive manufacturing for decades. I challenge you to consider the potentials of this market, and begin to utilize our technical backgrounds for the "green initiatives" that have been outlined by Jennifer Granholm. We have every available resource needed to place ourselves at the forefront of our country's effort to reduce waste. Anyone who has information on existing programs related to plastics recycling initiatives, or an interest in being involved...feel free to contact me via the website...

In closing, I'd have to agree with what Jim is saying..we cannot eliminate all plastics.. nor should we even make the assumption..when issues are proven that identify real and pertinent risks...sure. But anyone of us could slip in the shower tomorrow and break our necks fatally. Does this mean we should install cameras in ever home to regulate a ban on showering? There comes a point when the drama gets just a little bit extreme..

Regretfully, the answer is regularly an approximation that is so straightforward it would just need a small moment of time to get into place, but is typically forgotten.

Unhappily, the explanation is regularly something that is so straightforward it would simply necessitate a small period of time to get into position, but is generally forgotten.

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