There have been so many changes in ownership among plastics companies in the past few years that they all start to run together.
Reliable Private Equity Ltd. owns ABC Molding Co., right? No, that was three years ago. Now ABC is owned by Finepoint Private Equity LLC. And Reliable owns two machinery companies. Remember, they bought one from Golden Globes Capital?
You get the idea. You need a scorecard to keep up with all the changes. I have a feeling that’s exactly why a lot of Plastics News readers keep our processor rankings issues on file for years. Our footnotes are a wealth of information.
See, we understand that readers care about those things. Every one of those ownership changes is, at the very least, a major change for one of your potential customers, suppliers or competitors.
In the past week, though, we’ve had some acquisitions that are worth special attention:
Paper or plastic? Just say Hilex
On June 17, Hartsfield, S.C.-based plastic bag manufacturer Hilex Poly Co. LLC said it is buying Duro Bag Manufacturing Co.
Wow, right? The biggest maker of plastic grocery bags is buying the largest paper bag manufacturer in the world? That’s quite a story. It would have been even bigger 20 years ago, when more grocery stores still gave away paper bags.
Hilex has a great story to tell. The company deserves a lot of the credit for the fact that there’s still a plastic grocery bag sector in the United States. For the past few years, Hilex and its allies have been battling product bans in state legislatures and city halls all around the country.
Hilex doesn’t just argue that plastic bags are sustainable, it puts money behind the claim. Hilex has a recycling plant in Indiana, and it uses post-consumer polyethylene from that plant to make new bags. And Hilex has been encouraging cities and states to recycle more bags, instead of banning or taxing them.
Atlanta-based blow molder Consolidated Container Co. surprised me when it bought two major plastics recyclers: sister companies Envision Plastics Industries LLC and Ecoplast Corp.
CCC Chief Financial Officer Richard Sehring says his company views sustainability and recycling as “megatrends” that aren’t going to fade away. “Customers, consumers and retailers are all looking for greater recycled content,” he told PN’s Jim Johnson.
What are we to make of these deals? They both have a sustainability angle. But it seems pretty clear that these are bottom-line business decisions, too.
Now grocers — and consumers — that want to keep single-use bags as an option will have one big supplier that can handle both paper and plastic. Maybe this will breathe new life into the debate.
And a major blow molder has secured a reliable supply of recycled plastics, with plants on both coasts. That should help big consumer product companies feel more secure in making promises about the amount of post-consumer plastic they’re willing to use.
The plastics industry is making some big moves this week. Is the public — including consumers, customers and activists — paying attention?
Loepp is editor of Plastics News.