Michael Stephen Column

RWM Digital Spotlight and Plastiphobia (FREE)

Michael Stephen, an international expert on bioplastics, shares his thoughts and opinion on important issues impacting the bioplastics industry. Today, Michael writes about RWM Digital Spotlight on Packaging, and plastiphobia. This is a FREE article.

RWM Digital Spotlight

Last week I was invited to speak on “Making Plastic Better” at the RWM Digital Spotlight on Packaging.  I am told that my contribution was listened to by people from industry, government, and consultancies, from as far afield as Brazil, Jordan, and Singapore as well as the UK. 


I have often wondered why the western world is in the grip of an almost hysterical crusade against plastic, and I found it interesting to read a paper by Dr. Chris de Armitt, a polymer scientist. How the Environmentalists are Killing our Planet

He says “It’s caring and smart to want to protect the planet and preserve it for future generations. In fact, there’s a group of very active people working toward that goal now. They have a loud voice and politicians are acting on their demands. Those people are known as environmentalists. They probably feel good about what they are doing and who can fault them for fighting for a good cause? I can…and here’s why…”

“In order to protect the planet, we first have to know what is helpful and what is harmful. Only then can we make wise decisions and be a force for good. Unfortunately, too many environmentalists, in their excitement to do good, have not done their homework and as a result, they are harming our planet. That’s a fact and I’m going to prove it. How will I do that? Rather than giving my opinions, I will cite the studies” – which he then proceeds to do.

He finds for example that the 26 Life-cycle Assessments on plastic shopping bags, all show that the environmental credentials of plastic are better than the alternative materials. “So when campaigners and politicians pressurise or require us to use other materials they are harming the environment.  In most cases this will increase the consumption of energy and fossil fuels, and the emission of greenhouse gases.”

How is it then that the anti-plastic campaign has been so successful?  Dr. Armitt has studied the environmentalist’s modus operandi and says “Find an environmental problem, which sounds plausible. Provide anecdotal evidence to support your claims, with emotionally powerful imagery.  Invent a simple solution which sounds appealing.  Pick an enemy and blame them for obstructing the solution.  Imply that anyone who disagrees is probably working for this enemy.  Dismiss any alternative solutions as completely inadequate.”

He notes that this method has been so successful in extracting money from the public that many of the pressure groups are multi-million dollar businesses, who can afford to pay very high salaries.

He then says “it is dangerous to allow green groups to mislead the public and the politicians, because that leads companies to use solutions which cause more harm, and it leads the teachers to mislead the children.”

He notes that on 9th January 2020 the Independent Newspaper (UK) reported  “Supermarkets bringing in even more damaging packaging in rush to ditch plastic.”  Also, in 2018 CNN featured the world’s first supermarket-aisle free of plastic packaging, on which he comments “They touted the move to new compostable bio-materials as well as traditional materials such as glass, metal and cardboard. That sounds admirable enough, but they presented no evidence that what they had done was actually green. So, is their idea environmentally sound or just a publicity stunt? The only way to be sure is not to rely on the pressure groups, but to look for the evidence.”

Michael Stephen

Michael Stephen is a lawyer and was a member of the United Kingdom Parliament, where he served on the Environment Select Committee. When he left Parliament Symphony Environmental Technologies Plc. attracted his attention because of his interest in the environment. He is now Deputy Chairman of Symphony, which is listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange, and is the founder and Chairman of the Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Association.

Earlier Postings in this Column

Interview with Michael Stephen


The opinions expressed here by Michael Stephen and other columnists are their own, not those of Bioplasticsnews.com.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: