Few things in human history have ever been demonized quite like plastic. To hear some environmentalists explain it, plastics are nothing short of “an environmental health menace.” Such opinions were on full display in a 2022 piece published by Inside Climate News. After reading the piece, I have but one question for environmentalists: is there any acceptable way to keep plastics part of modern culture?
Based on the opinions expressed in the piece, I think I already know the answer. Though they may be in the minority, there remains a very vocal group within the environmentalist movement that will not be happy until all petrochemical products are completely banned worldwide. A global ban is never going to happen, so this particular group will never be satisfied.
Searching for a Circular Solution
The particular piece to which I’m referring was motivated by a plastics industry conference at which representatives spoke of the need to create circular solutions that would allow manufacturers to continue making plastics without causing any additional environmental harm. The piece’s author wasn’t buying it.
At every turn, he made an effort to demonize companies that insist on manufacturing or using plastic. There was very little attempt to cut the industry any slack or give any weight to the possibility that industry players truly do want to find a circular solution. As far as so many anti-plastic advocates are concerned, the private sector can never be trusted to do anything right. They certainly cannot be trusted to find a way out of the so-called plastic crisis.
The Crisis Itself Is Questionable
Speaking of the so-called plastic crisis, I used such terminology to indicate my unwillingness to accept that said crisis is real. I am not sure how old the Inside Climate News author is, but I’m in my late 50s. According to my grade school teachers, the world should have been obliterated by now. Fifty years ago, I was hearing the same doom and gloom predictions my grandchildren hear today. None of those predictions ever came to fruition.
Furthermore, I have trouble believing people who condemn manufacturers for using plastic but give themselves a pass to use laptop computers with so many plastic components and cell phones manufactured almost entirely with plastic. I have trouble trusting people who want to eliminate fossil fuels by forcing electric cars on society, but still refuse to admit that ecosystems are raped in order to mine the precious lithium necessary to fuel their cars.
All the handwringing about plastics and their negative impacts on the environment ring hollow when critics are not even willing to sacrifice their own comfort and safety to help save the planet through meaningful actions. It is easy to write a blog post condemning the plastics industry. It’s another thing to completely rid yourself of all plastics and petrochemical products. Doing so would return a person to the stone age, which so many activists are unwilling to do.
Solutions to the Problem Do Exist
I am the kind of person who prefers to find solutions rather than banning things. If the plastic crisis does exist, so do solutions. Seraphim Plastics is a Tennessee company that proves as much every day. They successfully collect and recycle tons of industrial scrap plastic annually. Other companies located around the country do the same thing.
I say let’s give manufacturers a fair shot at creating circular solutions. Let’s get rid of the red tape and keep regulation to a minimum. No one is better equipped than the private sector to find a solution that both works and contributes to the economy.