Are NDAs stifling the plastics industry's positive message?
By Hamish Champ
Posted 24 August 2012
I think most people would agree the plastics industry often gets what is known in street circles as a ‘bad rap’.
Whether it is harmful additives in PVC or the island of plastic detritus floating in the middle of the Pacific or the plethora of plastic bags drifting aimlessly across our beautiful countryside, those who seek to pillory plastic believe they have plenty of ammunition with which to shoot down both the material and those who seek to make a living producing it or subsequently making things with it.
With its critics thus armed it is obviously in the plastics industry’s interests to counter those statements about it which are erroneous.
And more than merely reacting to stuff that is just plain wrong, the industry should be shouting about its innovative products from the rooftops. It should be loudly proclaiming the benefits plastic products bring to the world.
Yet herein lies a problem. It is called the Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Part of my job involves trying to project a positive image for an industry that has some very vocal – and often misinformed – critics.
So people's reluctance, based on commercial reasons, to talk about some of the great things they do can be a bit frustrating for someone like me.
I do understand the commercial sensitivities that pervade modern business. I do.
But when I hear about something interesting and innovative and likely to make people sit up and go “Wow, I didn’t realise you could do that with plastic!” I want to write about it.
Such a story might get picked up by the wider media, perhaps one of the nationals, and before you know it people are hearing a positive message about a material they might have only considered as a litter hazard.
One such product came onto my radar earlier this week. I’d love to tell you about it. I’d love to tell the world about it. They might see plastics in a different way. They might, subsequently, think about plastics differently. See plastics differently.
But I can’t report it because of commercial sensitivities. Those involved in the project fear losing out to cheaper competition, apparently.
I respect those involved in the project which I cannot name keeping mum about what they are doing, perhaps because they think a rival will nick their business. It’s their call, after all.
That said, it is just one more thing that with a host of other things could make a difference to how the industry and its output is perceived, but which will sadly remain one of life’s ‘unknowns’.
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