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Sharing some thoughts about plastic

After considering all of the options, it looks like my wife will be having knee-replacement surgery. The surgeon explained the procedure, recuperation, risks and post-op physical therapy in great detail. He showed us what her new knee would look like. It is a combination of special metals and plastics designed specifically for her. The key is the special plastic parts that act as cartilage in the replacement knee. They will need to last for years. This is just one of the miracles of modern medicine and plastics.

When I was growing up I don’t remember many people with peanut, shell fish, bee sting or other allergies. Maybe that was because they didn’t live very long. They had to get to a hospital immediately after an incident. Today millions of people are alive because of plastic “pens” for allergy medication, insulin for diabetics and plastic asthma inhalers. Doctor’s offices and hospitals are full of plastic equipment to keep us alive and healthy. Cell phones, computers and the internet are all products of plastic as are electric cars, solar panels and even modern windmills.

Plastic packaging keeps our food fresher longer. As a child, I remember going to the butcher shop with my mother in the days before prepackaged meats. All of our meet was wrapped with wax paper and tied with a string. The butcher wrote on the paper what meat was inside. Even our lunch meat and hotdogs were wrapped with wax paper. Our family had six boys so food rarely went to waste. We couldn’t keep much meat in the refrigerator. My mother was at the butcher shop every few days.

Our milk came in glass bottles as did soda pop, ketchup and other products. When someone dropped something (which was routine with 6 boys) we had a real mess and always had to worry about getting cut on the cleanup. In places like India they lose over a third of their food before it gets to the consumer according to a friend of mine who lives there. They using more and better plastic packaging to reduce this number and help to feed their growing population.

In this country, we have the anti- plastic folks. They showed up in Morgantown at the West Virginia Manufacturer’s Association Conference in April. They carried plastic protest signs, wore plastic shoes, had plastic cell phones and got there in cars that were over 50 percent plastic. I believe in leadership by example. They had no idea. Would they have they have had the courage to approach a mother and tell her, “If your child dies from an allergy that’s fine with us because plastic is bad.”

I get to work with a lot of young people. I find that millennials are really good at putting information together and making sense out of it. I did several radio shows for the University of Colorado student radio station at Boulder, CO. After explaining plastic and petrochemicals on my first show the host stopped me and told his listeners, “Did you hear what he just said? We don’t like oil and gas wells or petrochemical plants but we do like our skis, climbing ropes, cell phones and cars. If we are going to have those things isn’t it better they are made here under US environmental laws and create jobs here?” He understood!

We need to be able to enjoy our modern conveniences and protect our plant. I learned at a recent conference, 90 percent of the plastic going into the oceans is coming from 10 rivers in Asia where they have a collection problem. People dump their trash in the river and watch it go away. I saw the same thing in eastern Kentucky when I worked there years ago. People pitched their paper bags into the creek. After a flood, you could see disposable diapers in trees along the creek. We know better now and have found ways to correct this. In our country, we still have a litter problem. Plastics are not the problem. Failing to put them in the trash for collection is the real problem.

If we can collect our waste plastics, Shale Crescent USA is working with companies that have new technologies for plastic reuse. They don’t see our garbage as waste. They see it as feed stock for the products they make. They can take our plastic waste and turn it into useful products creating jobs here. This takes plastic out of the environment. We are talking to one company that can do this and have a negative carbon footprint. What this means is they can create good jobs, make useful products and IMPROVE the environment. Where most people see garbage, waste and problems they see opportunity for a cleaner more prosperous world. They didn’t protest with plastic signs. They solved a problem and are making people’s lives better.

Our country and our world has a lot of problems. We can’t allow people like the “antis” to destroy the lives of millions of people with stinking thinking. We are smart, we are creative we are Americans. We put men on the moon and brought them home safety. We can have a cleaner planet and have prosperity. The Shale Crescent USA Region can have high wage jobs, a higher standard of living, give people hope, eliminate our drug problem and have a cleaner environment. It starts with a positive attitude and a little creativity.

My wife isn’t excited about knee replacement surgery but she is looking forward to reduced pain and increased mobility thanks to modern technology and plastic.

Thoughts to ponder.

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Greg Kozera, gkozera@shalecrescentusa.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.

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