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Material Insights: The top materials stories of 2013

Shale gas. A big acquisition that was finalized. Resin prices that rose, then fell. Which was the top materials-related news story of 2013? Watch this year-end edition of Material Insights for the answer.

Published: December 30, 2013 4:14 pm ET
Updated: December 30, 2013 8:40 pm ET

Shale gas. A big acquisition that was finalized. Resin prices that rose, then fell. Which was the top materials-related news story of 2013? Watch this year-end edition of Material Insights for the answer.

Materials-related reports are often among the best-read stories on PlasticsNews.com. This year, the No. 3 materials-related story was bad news for polystyrene. It was our September report on McDonald's decision to phase out polystyrene hot beverage cups.

In 2012, McDonald's started testing double-walled paper cups, after a non-profit group called As You Sow put forward a resolution to the company's shareholders urging the fast-food giant to do away with polystyrene.

For plastics industry old-timers, this 2013 story was a reminder of McDonald's 1990 decision to stop using polystyrene in clamshell burger containers.

The No. 2 materials-related story this year also was a follow-up to our previous coverage. It was the June report that an ASTM International plastics committee was recommending changes to the resin identification code.

As expected, the committee recommended doing away with the chasing arrows symbol in the current code, and replacing them with a solid, equilateral triangle.

Critics have long said that the chasing-arrows symbol confused some consumers, who felt that it implied that a package was recyclable, even if their local authorities didn't think so.

There were more materials-related angles to the recycling code story. Among other things, ASTM was debating how to better identify products made from PLA, polycarbonate, nylon, ABS and linear low density polyethylene.

Finally, the biggest materials-related news story of 2013: It's actually a follow-up to our top story of 2012: PolyOne's acquisition of Spartech Corporation.

PolyOne announced the $393 million dollar deal in November 2012, but the acquisition wasn't finalized until this year. And Plastics News continued to follow all the angles.

In February, we reported that top officials at Spartech were in line to receive almost $11 million dollars in golden parachute payments when the deal was finalized. But that wasn't the biggest Spartech-PolyOne headline of 2013.

The top materials-related story of 2013, as measured by reader clicks on our website, was the July report that PolyOne planned to close six of the plants that it had acquired from Spartech.

The closings eliminated about 250 jobs and were designed to save PolyOne about $25 million dollars annually.

Those were the top materials-related stories of 2013. Watch the Plastics Blog for the full list.

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