Top plastics stories of 2013

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Caroline Seidel Loepp

It's countdown time — the top stories of 2013 on

I posted more than 2,500 news stories on our site last year. I have to admit that it was pretty obvious that some of them were going to be very popular.

Then, like in previous years, there are always one or two that leave me scratching my head.

10. Say so long to recycling code arrows. This story impacts most of the global plastics industry, Plus we had the story first, and our coverage included details on the debate behind the decision, and key information on when plastics processors will have to make the changes. Big news story.

9. Executive in China hostage crisis calls it a 'complete shakedown.' After spending six days as a captive of his employees in his Beijing injection molding factory, medical manufacturing executive Chip Starnes was back home in the United States — and he talked to Plastics News' Steve Toloken about the experience.

Starnes described being held hostage in his plant, and an all-night negotiating session consisting of him alone facing a crowd of more than 100 employees, their family members, vendors and government officials.

8. Cost cutting at Berry Plastics includes five plant closures. Berry is one of the biggest U.S. plastics processors, so I'm sure that the company's suppliers, competitors and customers are all watching it pretty closely.

7. Coffee makers wrestle with recyclability of single-serve pods. A shared story from our colleagues at Waste & Recycling News — and within a few weeks, Jennifer Kalish was part of PN's staff. Who knew? With the explosion of single-serve coffee pods, you have to figure that there will be a ton of interest in their sustainability story. It turns out that the pods are pretty tough to recycle.

6. Motorola and Flextronics bringing smartphone manufacturing to Texas. Man bites dog, right? A company making smartphones in the United States — not China? The story of the Moto X certainly had a lot of North American suppliers paying attention.

5. Feng Ping, Chinese toolmaker with Chicago ties, declares bankruptcy. Another big scoop for Steve Toloken, who was able to visit the plant and talk to workers for a follow-up story that also came close to making our Top 10 list, Feng Ping workers arrested in protest.

4. McDonald's to phase out PS hot beverage cups. It's great to be first with a big story. We got a boost with this one when both the Chicago Tribune and Crain's Chicago Business posted links to our story in their first reports about the decision — not to mention numerous blogs and news aggregation sites.

3. In the wake of Spartech purchase, PolyOne closing six plants. Like the Berry story, this coverage of a major company was closely read. And having a complete list of the plant closings before anyone else meant we got a lot of extra clicks from readers looking for more information about their own plants.

2. Nypro: Sale to Jabil will allow growth. If we combined all of the clicks on all of our stories about Jabil buying Nypro, this would easily be the No. 1 story. It was the biggest plastics story of 2013.

1. Dreamliners and Volts share batteries, but safety regimes differ. I linked to this story in the Plastics Blog a few months ago, and called it a bit of an anomaly, but a story that shows the power of social media and linking. It's a story from our sister paper Crain's Chicago Business, but 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.