Other Uses for Plastic

Regarding the Opinion page article "Plastics - the Environmental Solution, Not the Problem," March 30: Used plastic's chief disadvantage, that it will not biodegrade easily or quickly, is being turned into a chief advantage by several companies who are making plastic lumber out of it.

While plastic lumber is more expensive than wood, it offers several advantages: It will not rot, be eaten by termites, become waterlogged, splinter, or ever need painting or water-sealing treatment. It also lasts much longer than wood in every application. And because it can be made in any color and given a wood-like grain, it even looks like wood.

Many companies are finding that they can arrange to give scrap plastic to the recycler, who in turn makes plastic lumber out of it and sells it back in a variety of forms. This process also eliminates landfill costs. Arthur T. Morey, St. Louis, President, Environmental Recycling, Inc. Restraint is the key in arms sales

In the front-page article "US Arms Makers Still Push Sales," March 31, representatives of the US weapons industry argue that selling their wares to developing countries is beneficial to the American economy. If we don't do it, they say, someone else will, so we might as well be the ones to benefit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Developing nations spend $200 billion annually on military forces, a figure greater than their foreign aid and their debt repayments combined. This is a tremendous drain on their economic growth and, as a result, their potential to buy US exports. Military forces also retard growth by spurring conflicts that spread refugees throughout entire regions, as well as by exercising political power and slowing the transition to democracy and long-term stability.

Our response to other nations' attempts to sell more weapons should be to press vigorously for multilateral restraints on all arms sales, similar to those we have fashioned for chemical weapons and sophisticated missiles - not to throw up our hands and take part in a short-term plunder that is costly to everyone except the arms industry. Caleb Rossiter, Washington, Director, Project on Demilitarization and Democracy

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