It seems like retailers rolled out Christmas decorations the day after Halloween this year. But social media has been all about Thanksgiving for weeks. So by now you know what your Aunt Debbie and your neighbor Tom are thankful for.
Well, the plastics industry has plenty to be thankful for this year too. Let's take a look:
• We're thankful that the plastics industry is growing, companies are profitable, and many are hiring. For Plastics News, it seems like the Great Recession is a distant memory. Remember when our pages were dominated by stories about companies closing plants, and it was rare to see anyone investing in new equipment, not to mention new factories?
The latest numbers from the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. show the U.S. plastics industry maintaining its position as the third-largest manufacturing sector, measured by dollar value of output. Plastics is outpacing the overall manufacturing sector, and the value of goods shipped by the U.S. plastics industry in 2012 was more than $373 billion — close to the pre-recession high in 2006.
• I'm thankful for the delete key on my computer, so I don't have to spend more than a second looking at the dozens of emails I get every week offering me tooling from China.
• We're thankful that it looks like NPE2015 will be a big, successful show. North American processors deserve a dominant trade show where they can see all of their key suppliers and lots of new technology. And it appears they're going to get just that in March 2015: To date, 789 companies have applied to exhibit, requesting more than 690,000 square feet of space. That's 16 percent more exhibitors and 14 percent more space than at the NPE2012 space draw lottery deadline.
• The North American plastics industry should be thankful for investments in new resin capacity being driven by the rapidly expanding shale gas sector. It would have been impossible to believe a decade ago that this region would continue to be an exporter of resin.
• The global plastics industry should be thankful that a growing number of trade groups and researchers are trying to do something about marine litter. A cynic might think the efforts are just aimed at preventing bans and taxes on plastics. But the reality is many people are serious in their commitment to solving this problem. They're working together with activists and scientists, rather than painting them as the enemy. After all, we're all environmentalists, right?
• Finally, I'm thankful for our loyal readers around the world.
Loepp is Plastics News editor and author of "The Plastics Blog."