This month, Philip Law, Director-General of the British Plastics Federation puts plastics on the table, with food for thought on the themes highlighted at the association’s annual dinner.
The last week has been dominated by our BPF 81st Annual Dinner, which this year attracted 469 guests, one of the largest held in the history of the BPF. BPF President, Mike Boswell, gave a stirring speech. He illustrated contemporary attitudes of plastics by a story about his young son Robbie. Robbie was playing with a ‘Super Mario Cart’ when it disappeared under Mike’s car with poor old Mario left decapitated. Robbie attempted to console Mike with the words “don’t worry Daddy; it’s ONLY plastic.”
Mike announced the initiation in the coming month of a BPF political contact programme where we will be issuing a document containing an elaboration of his Presidential themes, asking the membership to use it to establish contact with their local Member of Parliament. The document contains important messages on the skills shortages in the industry, the need for stable energy supply, and greater diversity in the banking sector together with ongoing support for the construction sector, traditionally a locomotive of the manufacturing economy as a whole.
Mike took the opportunity to thank former BPF Director-General, Peter Davis, for promoting the BPF in the political world with such effect for some 16 years and also former Finance and Administration Director, Alan Davey, for his aggressive stewardship of the BPF Finances.
Mike told the audience that, as a new step, the BPF was creating a ring-fenced fund to finance educational projects of benefit to the BPF membership. This is to be administered from 2015 by the BPF’s Strategy and Finance Committee.
The BPF’s Gold Medal this year was awarded to Gabriel-Chemie UK’s Greg Hammond. Greg has been the major force behind the creation of the BPF’s Masterbatch and Technical Compounders Group. He has been its Chairman for over eight years and has inspired several seminars on colour in plastics. Greg’s dedication to the industry and profession is hard to rival.
Our guest speaker Matthew Parris, provided a humorous account of his chequered career at the Foreign Office, as an MP and as a political sketch writer. He concluded with a chastening message that at no point in his life has he witnessed such scepticism of not only the behaviour of political leaders, but also business leaders, all established authority in every field is being challenged as never before. This, of course, rings loud bells because a principal cause of many of the debates in which the BPF finds itself entangled gather pace because of the shaken faith in traditional authority. We have Governments taking outrageous positions on particular chemicals, ignoring the measured scientific judgements of their advisors. We are also finding some alarming cases of head teachers, whose judgement should be more balanced, giving serious airtime to campaigning groups with anti-plastics messages in schools; a point I recently made in a letter to Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan MP.
Our Dinner was a great success, with plenty of food for thought. For me it was a particularly significant event because it’s one thing saying that the plastics industry is very large but to actually see, physically present, in a large forum the serried ranks of several hundred business directors from the UK plastics industry, delivers a real message of dynamism and influence.
Winner of the BPF Gold Medal, Greg Hammond (left), with President, Mike Boswell