GB No. 2(17)/95
A letter by Mrs Krystyna Panek, the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MO¦ZNiL - Ministerstwo Ochrony Orodowiska, Zasobów Naturalnych i Leonictwa), was published in Rzeczpospolita on November 11th, 1994. The letter was a reaction against an article "Flooded By Aluminium" by Mrs Krystyna Forowicz, published on October 13th, 1994. We think that special attention should be paid to it. As it is scandalous, we reprint it as a whole.
In an article "Flooded By Aluminium" from Rzeczpospolita 239/94 Mrs Krystyna Forowicz overdramatised the plans of introducing can recycling in Poland. It is nothing but an exaggeration to claim categorically that there is no chance of putting these plans into practice or that using cans means an inevitable ecological disaster.
Many countries in the world have proved that it is possible to recycle even 90% of cans. If the accepted methods and technologies are used in Poland (as the programme of Continental Can Polska states), it will not be a utopian or a childish idea. In spite of the author's claims, the project is likely to be successful because putting the plan into practice begins before starting production. It is more important, as with the development of free-market economy reusing of waste materials, especially the most attractive one - aluminium - decreased sharply. It is estimated that reusing aluminium, when compared to smelting it from ores, allows a 95% saving of electric energy, a 95% reduction of the level of air pollution and a 97% decrease of the use of water.
The presence of aluminium packaging in Poland is a fact and, similarly, their share in the sale of drinks and beverages is increasing with market requirements as it is in other countries. Despite Mrs Forowicz's opinion, in Western countries the consumption of aluminium packaging is increasing while glass packaging is less often used.
The author's opinion that aluminium is harmful to health is groundless too. What's more, the only reason for banning the use of metal cans in Denmark was not health protection but protection of local breweries against competitors from abroad.
MO¦ZNiL completely supports the programme of recycling aluminium cans in Poland. The increase of GNP is directly proportional to growth in used packagings per person. Now people in Poland use several times less packaging than people in countries which have greater GNP.
spokeswoman of MO¦ZNiL
The above text calls for both comment and correction
The first question is who the spokeswoman represents? The text seems to have been commissioned by Continental Can Europe (CCE) or the authorities of Radomsko. Both of them will get a profit from the investment. They are equally as interested in manufacturing aluminium cans as completely indifferent to what will happen to the cans later. The producer of disposable packaging loses interest in it as soon as it has been sold.
Every ecologist but the spokeswoman knows that using a disposable can is profitable until real costs, which include not only the production but safe utilization as well, are added to its price. So far it is society that is burdened with the cost of waste production and pays taxes for environmental protection or for municipal purposes, like removing disposable waste from the streets or closing illegal landfills.
These costs will not burden Continental Can Europe. CCE will increase its profits because it will not bear the ecological and social expenses of manufacturing disposables.
A person who uses disposable packaging has to calculate the additional costs connected with making life easier. The same product costs more when sold in disposable packaging. Be at ease - and pay more at ease - for using more energy and for the fact that the packaging costs more than the product itself. That is what economy and market rules are based on.
The article is an embarrassment to us - Continental Can Europe generates publicity with the spokeswoman of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The Polish government provides it with free advertisement, without additional expenses.
Characteristically the spokeswoman did not refer to the following part of Mrs Krystyna Forowicz's article: Scientists have proved that products kept in aluminium packagings cause osteoporosis, senile dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The argument that the Danish were guided by cold calculation, and not by care for their health, is in bad taste. What's more, if we follow the spokeswoman's logic we come to another nonsense which states that Danish breweries would suffer losses when producing beer in cans. Would canned Danish beer be worse than Canned beer from abroad? After all, cans, as the spokeswoman says, should be one of the most attractive packagings for the client and the manufacturer.
The increase of GNP is not proportional to the growth in used packaging per person. Recently, in Switzerland and Austria, the consumption of packaging has decreased while GNP has increased. There are other similar examples. It is dishonest of the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Environmental Protection to suggest that our way to prosperity lies through production of disposable waste.
And last but not by no means least: Continental Can Europe is going to produce cans from raw materials and is not going to manufacture cans from recycled materials. The programme of introducing can recycling will not be financed by the concern's money. Putting the recycling programme into practice depends rather on local self-governments than the firm's good intentions. CCE does not pay for that.
Warszawska Grupa Federacji Zielonych
reprinted from Zielone Brygady 2/95