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August 30, 1999
Regarding the July 12 Viewpoint, ``Hope for redemption after NPRC's failure,'' about National Polystyrene Recycling Co. being bought by Elm Packaging Co.:

What's wrong with this Plastics News opinion: ``We hope it also will be the beginning of a more successful story that will have a solid foundation in economic reality''?

What's wrong is that the basic definition of economic reality does not include taking back contaminated plastics, cleaning them more or less individually and then reintroducing them back into the raw-material flow, when virgin materials have none of the significant added investments, headaches and costs of taking back contaminated plastics and cleaning them more or less individually.

What's wrong with this Plastics News opinion: ``It's an embarrassing case in which industry treated recycling like a cost of doing business, not a real business''?

What's wrong is that recycling became a cost of doing business because the marketplace -- consumers, environmentalists and new technologies -- proved that the recycling of contaminated PS is not a real business, because the marketplace would not foot the bill.

What's wrong with this Plastics News opinion: ``Officials made promises about recycling 25 percent of food-service products, and then quietly broke those promises when they discovered no one was keeping track''?

What's wrong is that companies stopped wasting money down the recycling rat hole when people finally came to their senses and stopped wailing and railing to recycle the entire world's output of everything.

What's right with this Plastics News opinion: ``It was a case in which an ill-informed public, egged on by environmentalists and suppliers of competing materials, insisted that PS was a problem, and that recycling alone was the answer''?

What's right is the recognition that misinformation by environmentalists and competitors was behind the entire debacle, and that neither economic reality, nor environmental reality, played any role in the process.

What's missing from this Plastics News opinion: ``We hope that ... having a single, dedicated owner will be more effective than having a committee of owners with the cash, but without the commitment, to make NPRC truly successful''?

What's missing is Plastics News' own commitment of more than mere lip service. If this venture is really such a wonderful opportunity based on ``a solid foundation in economic reality,'' how about Plastics News giving it more than mere words?

How about, for once, Plastics News putting its money where its mouth has been for the last decade about plastics recycling? Wouldn't that finally give the plastics industry -- and Plastics News -- a ``real taste of the free-enterprise system''?

George A. Makrauer

ComAd Management Group Inc.

Treasure Island, Fla.

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