Your top stories of the first half of 2013

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It's time for one of my favorite lists -- the most popular stories in the last six months on Can you guess which story got the most reader "clicks"?

It's kind of a surprise this time. But the story that you might be guessing is pretty high on the list, too. In fact, if we hadn't updated the story so much ... well, let's not give it away just yet.

Here's the Top 25. Before you can scroll down, see how many you can guess:

25) 14 workers injured in fire at Formosa Plastics. This was a May story about a fire at Formosa's largest North American production site.

24) North American PP prices up 15 cents in January. As always, resin pricing stories are very popular among Plastics News readers, especially when the changes are drastic.

23) Hoffer Plastics named Plastics News Processor of the Year. This is a short but sweet story, it was one of the first official notifications that Hoffer was the winner of our big POY award. (Actually I tweeted the news first, and the story followed about a half hour later, thanks to my old laptop's poor wi-fi performance.)

22) Coffee makers wrestle with recyclability of single-serve pods. Here's a story from our sister paper Waste & Recycling News. Everyone I know with a K-Cup maker can relate -- they love the convenience, but feel like they're throwing away a lot of pods.

21) Dow to sell PP licensing, plastics additives units. M&A stories are always among the most popular with Plastics News readers.

20) Nypro says sale to Jabil will facilitate growth. This was arguably the biggest M&A story to be announced in the plastics industry in the first half 2013, and it came as a surprise to a lot of readers. We covered the story so thoroughly that you'll see additional, related stories higher up the list.

19) California updates container law to encourage more recycled content. When California mandates something related to plastics, the whole world is interested, because it's such a large and important market. This was our first story on changes to California's rigid plastic packaging container (RPPC) regulations aimed at increasing the amount of post-consumer recycled material that goes into packaging sold on California stores' shelves.

18) Illinois Tool Works considers sale or spinoff of industrial packaging business. Another big M&A story, from a company that, despite being publicly held, doesn't usually have a lot to say about its extensive plastics holdings. (Last year it sold Minigrip without any announcement -- our story on the deal was a significant scoop).

17) Mold-Masters deal to make Milacron a leader in complete mold systems. If any acquisition in the first half of 2013 rivaled the Jabil purchase of Nypro, it was this one. Huge news, with global implications, especially for the injection molding and tooling sectors. This story was our first word on the announcement. Readers looking for more information should check out our follow-up story, Milacron gains big in Mold-Masters deal, which featured a then-exclusive interview with Milacron CEO Tom Goeke.

16) Supply issues impact Chevron Phillips and Formosa polyethylene plants. We can't go too far on this list without a pricing-related story, right?

15) Spartech officials could get golden parachutes after merger with PolyOne. A follow-up to our biggest story from 2012 -- remember? I talked to people months after we published this story who remembered all the details of Spartech CEO Victoria Holt's golden parachute. Cool.

14) Pallet supplier iGPS files for bankruptcy, sells assets. You guys love M&A stories, don't you?

13) New West Virginia polyethylene plant would target shale gas. A week after we published this story, I think every TV, radio and newspaper website in West Virginia was reporting on James Cutler and his partners at Appalachian Resins Inc. Remember, you read it in Plastics News first.

12) Nypro says sale to Jabil will facilitate growth. Another one of those big Nypro deal follow-ups, not to be confused with...

11) Nypro: Sale to Jabil will allow growth. This was the updated version of story No. 12, with enough new information to make it worth posting a second time. This version has quotes from top Nypro and Jabil officials, plus analyst comments and more historical background. If you're only going to read one story on Nypro and Jabil today, this is the one. (And if we combined all the clicks on all the Nypro stories so far in 2013, this would move up the list).

10) Judge removes BPA from California's Prop 65 list. Late on a Friday afternoon in April, we got word about this big court decision in California. Surprisingly, this wasn't widely reported for several days. So it was a nice scoop for Plastics News, and exclusive stories tend to get a lot of clicks.

9) Coll Materials defaults, closes; recycler re-emerges as Y City. Speaking of exclusives, this is one of the biggest stories in plastics recycling this year, and so far we've had it exclusively. Perhaps that's because our story was so thoroughly researched and reported.

8) Fire hits Pactiv egg carton plant in Georgia. Breaking news about one of the largest companies in our rankings -- so it's not surprising that it would attract a lot of attention.

7) Mexichem purchasing PolyOne PVC resin assets for $250 million in cash. Another major plastics deal, this was our first word on this particular announcement.

6) Injection molder Core Systems strikes back at Whirlpool. When a plastics molder gets into a legal battle with its largest customer, it's got the plot for a very interesting story. More on this one closer to the top of the list.

5) China's 'Green Fence' makes unprecedented cuts in recycled plastic imports. The impact of China's "Green Fence" program is a hot topic among plastics recyclers. With this story, Plastics News benefits from the reporting of Steve Toloken, our full-time, China-based Asia bureau chief. He was able to report actual numbers on what "Green Fence" was doing, rather than just anecdotal stories about China cracking down on imports of dirty plastic waste.

4) Whirlpool files breach of contract suit against Ohio molder Core Systems. Remember story No. 6 on this list? Sure you do. If CNN cared about the plastics industry, they'd have Nancy Grace covering this case.

3) Say so long to recycling code arrows. So this is bigger news than Milacron buying Mold-Masters? Jabil buying Nypro? Yep. This news impacts a huge segment of the global plastics industry, Plus we had the story first, and our coverage went far beyond the press release, with details on the debate behind the decision, and key information on when plastics processors will have to make the changes.

2) Motorola and Flextronics bringing smartphone manufacturing to Texas. We called this "the first ripple of a tide of new electronics production" in North America -- that's a phrase that's certainly going to attract reader attention! There's a lot of anecdotal talk about reshoring, and a lot of skepticism. Here's a real example. It's a big deal.

1) Dreamliners and Volts share batteries, but safety regimes differ. This one is a bit of an anomaly, but it shows the power of social media and linking. It's a story from our sister paper Crain's Chicago Business, but somehow our version became very popular in the universe of blogs, emails and news sites that follow Boeing, General Motors, and the technical problems with the 787 Dreamliner.

So there you have it -- and I bet I'm right that you didn't guess the top story. I certainly didn't.

I love this feature because I love lists, plus I think that newspaper readers like to know what others are reading. Whenever I'm on a website, I check out the "Most Popular" and "Most Commented" story links.

And I know the Plastics News reporters check this list to see which of their stories are popular with readers! Nice job, team, lots of scoops and plenty of news and analysis in the first half of this year. I can't wait to see how you'll top it in the next six months.

Next week, I'll count down the top posts from "The Plastics Blog" for the first half of 2013.

(Special thanks to David Irvin, PN's manager of digital strategy & development, for helping with today's post.)