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[GreenYes] Re: Eco-Cycle support for bioplastics

Hi Pat,

And my respect for you is solid, so I think it's great when an important discussion happens between people of trust. And that is largely why I sent my earlier email... to stimulate discussion on a topic that has no clear answer. This listserve is full of thoughtful people, as the recent postings on this topic shows.

First let me say that I didn't mean to propose a "wait and see" position, and that is not what I'm doing. I am actively discussing all these sticky issues with the NatureWorks folks because I want to know what position Eco-Cycle should take. You know I run a large MRF and a composting collection service, so we have a daily and vested interest in the outcome. What I was trying to communicate was the idea that bioplastics would be very easy to criticize right now because they aren't perfect. But, if we do that, then make no mistake that we will be carrying the water for the petro-plastic industry and killing a possibly "better" competitor to them.

So I wouldn't advise wait-and-see on this, I would push now for clarity on the issue so that if bioplastics really are preferable to petro-plastics, then let's say it now and "frame" the public debate before Exxon-Mobile jumps in and does it for us. I've heard rumor that the PETE industry has compiled a war-chest to launch a national anti-PLA campaign of some sort. Would that surprise you from an industry that hasn't done recycling any favors for the last twenty years?

I know I am in favor of a global transition away from petroleum as the key ingredient to socio-economic prosperity. That transition will take decades, but we need to kick it in gear. As a Zero Waster, I see compostable packaging as a good thing (after REDUCTION of packaging of course)... thus I come to bioplastics. And it isn't just PLA that is the topic here, although I think we need to focus on that since we do have in America one large bioplastics production facility in Nebraska that is in danger of being shut down after 10 years because it isn't profitable enough. Do we want that to happen? If it does happen, then this will have a serious cooling effect upon any further market investment for a long time to come.

Eric Lombardi
Executive Director

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Pat Franklin" <pfranklin@no.address>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2006 10:11:16 -0500

>Dear Eric,
>I have great respect for you, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with the
>"wait and see" approach. Now is the time to ask questions about the PLA
>bottle, if it is not already too late. There's a big difference between
>criticizing a product or process, and asking hard questions about the
>potential environmental and economic impacts of that product or process.
>This is not the time to put a halt to questions that many people have about
>the bioplastics industry in general and the PLA bottle in particular. I hope
>members of this listserv will continue to seek answers to their questions.
>The PLA bottle could have a profound impact on both our environment and our
>Patricia Franklin
>Executive Director
>Container Recycling Institute
>1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 800
>Washington, D.C. 20036-1904
>Tel.(202) 263-0999 Fax: (202) 263-0949
> and
> -----Original Message-----
> From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address]On
>Behalf Of Alan Muller
> Sent: Friday, February 17, 2006 9:39 AM
> To: Eric Lombardi; GreenYes@no.address
> Subject: [GreenYes] Re: Eco-Cycle support for bioplastics
> At 02:04 PM 2/14/2006 -0700, Eric Lombardi wrote:
> Dear GreenYessers,
> The real reason I?m writing this is to ask you all, and your networks,
>to give the bioplastics industry some time to d velop before we criticize
>them too heavily.
> [...]
> The piece below is interesting (not great), and says that we need to be
>more supportive of Big Corporate Small Steps. Well, maybe? but in the case
>of NW, they took a big step in building that Nebraska PLA production
>facility ($300 million, or something like that). Their product isn?t
>perfect, but I?m convinced it?s a good step toward a carbohydrate economy.
> This is a tough issue, philosophically and practically. As someone who
>has been a corporate greenwasher as well as an on-the-edge activist (at
>least by Delaware standards) I think activists are often in a no-win
>situation. How can one distinguish the greenwashing motivation from the
>experimenting-with-change-motivation. Does it matter? With "business"
>reporters usually regurgitating corporate press releases, doesn't somebody
>need to inject a cautionary note? But we don't want to be perceived as the
>"oppose everything" people.... Do we gain or lose influence by taking a
>position? Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.
> I personally feel the US agricultural system is so profoundly
>unsustainable that it's hard to get excited about bio-fuels and
>bio-polymers. If there is a significant market segment for crops that don't
>have to make a pretence of being edible by man or beast, with practices get
>even worse......?
> Alan
> Alan Muller, Executive Director
> Green Delaware
> Box 69
> Port Penn, DE 19731 USA
> (302)834-3466
> fax (302)836-3005
> greendel@no.address

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