Are safer plastics more expensive?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,173
    Michael Schade, PVC Campaign Coordinator with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice discusses if safer plastics are more expensive to consumers.

    Host: Are safer plastics more expensive?

    Michael Schade: In some cases, they are and then in some cases the alternatives are cheaper. It really varies from material to material and application to application. As alternatives become more and more available, we are going to see that the alternatives become more cheaper as more and more consumers are purchasing them and as more and more manufacturers and retailers are selling them. So as safer alternatives become more available, the price is going to go down. There have been companies who actually have been able to save money when switching to safer products. So for instance S.

    C. Johnson the manufacturer of Windex and Saran Wrap and other common consumer products, they phased out PVC in their products and packaging, I think about five years ago and when they switched to safer PVC free packaging and some of other applications, they were actually to save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year because the alternatives were actually cheaper. So in some cases, the alternatives are actually more cost effective. But it's really we can't not only look at the cost of the materials. A lot of companies are looking at the other financial cost associated with PVC plastic in their products and packaging. For instance, there is serious financial, legal, reputational and liability issues associated with vinyl plastic and other toxic chemicals. So for example, many major retailers including Walmart, Target and Kmart have been sued by the Attorney Generals in New York state and Illinois, for selling vinyl toys and other consumer products that contained lead. So there is other types of financial liabilities associated with final products that one needs to take into consideration when a retailer or a manufacturer is using them. There is also the social and the media cost because there has been growing public and media concern associated with these harmful chemicals in our environment. So while some of these chemicals may - some of the problematic chemicals like PVC or BPA may sometimes cost more in certain applications, the public and financial cost in terms of reputational issues may far outweigh any financial costs associated with them.