US, EU plastic industry leaders present brief on importance of plastics

With an eye toward the proposed U.S.-EU free trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), plastics industry leaders from the US and the European Union has an educational presentation to members of the European Parliament and their staff members describing the range of contributions of plastics toward improving quality of life, sustainability and the environment.

The plastics industry is a major factor in the economies of both the US and the EU, and is certain to play an important role in the recently delayed but still ongoing negotiations for the TTIP. “There has always been a strong economic case for a transatlantic trade deal,” said Michael Taylor, Senior Director, International Affairs and Trade for US-based SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association - an organisation, which represents nearly 900 thousand US workers in the third largest US manufacturing industry. “But at this point in time the argument in favour is even more compelling. While it is true that the US plastics industry stands to benefit greatly from improved market access to Europe, SPI member companies are very focused on the millions of dollars that can be saved by achieving regulatory coherence and mutual recognition of standards. This will lower the bar for market entry for both the EU and the U.S.”

In addition to SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, Amcham Belgium (the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium) and Assocomaplast (the Italian Plastics and Rubber Processing, Machinery and Moulds Manufacturing Association) also co-organised the recent presentation to the EU Parliament, other EU institutions, business representatives and interested parties.

The presentation summarised the importance of the plastics industry in global economic growth as it provides a broad variety of platforms for innovation in virtually every industrial sector. The EU parliament has been briefed as to why plastics are the true resource champions, conserving more resources than they use and offering easy recyclability; and why plastics, due to their ability to be tailored to the specifics of new products, will continue to enable more innovative applications that will add to quality of life.

The presentation featured three speakers from SPI-member companies:

Werner Van De Sande, Business Manager of Milliken Chemical in Europe: US-based Milliken Chemical is a global developer and manufacturer of performance additives, polymeric colourants, industrial specialties, and processing aids that improve the appearance, performance and productivity of plastics products and processes; Paolo Gasparotto, Branch Sales Manager for Moretto Plastics Automation: This Italian-based company is a global supplier of a comprehensive line of equipment for the automation and control of plastic materials during their processing by technologies such as injection moulding, blow moulding, extrusion and more; and Mark Daniels, Senior Vice President of Sustainability & Environmental Policy for Hilex Poly: A leading American maker of plastic bag and film products, Hilex Poly has production facilities in seven states and operates the largest closed loop plastic bag recycling facility in the world, turning used plastic bags back to resin pellets and ultimately into new bags, including those with high levels of post-consumer content.

Relevant to the theme of the presentation, a recent study by PlasticsEurope showed that “life without plastics” in the EU would result in a 46% increase in both energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and would generate an additional 100 million tonnes of waste every year across the region. In addition, the substitutes for plastics generally would cost more and be less sustainable.

Taylor added: “A significant part of what SPI does on a regular basis is educational. Supporting our European colleagues at an event in the European Parliament, where we can speak about the positive contribution of the plastics industry to those who shape policy in the EU is a major opportunity. It is vitally important that everyone be aware of how plastics improve the quality of life, from safe and efficient packaging to life-saving and life-sustaining medical devices.”


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