Exxon Chemical Co.'s reported advances in metallocene catalyst technologies provide a quiet, but striking reminder that such improvements in properties are a particular strength of the plastics industry. The company, in separate news conferences recently in New York and Chicago, said it had produced for the first time commercial amounts of high-purity, isotactic propylene polymers and linear low density polyethylene.
Both developments, which plastics industry analysts expect will change the commodity thermoplastics business, have resulted in additional products for the company, under new trade names.
The new resins, designated generically as mLLDPE by the Houston-based company, were given the trade names of Achieve and Exceed.
A number of other companies, including Dow Plastics and Mitsui Toatsu of Japan, also are on the slicing edge of metallocene catalyst technology.
Such technical achievements are to industry what social progress is to sociology - part of the evolutionary process. Still, other industries also invest heavily in research and development. What makes plastics unique, as Exxon's announcements help underscore, is the ongoing process of reinvention that continues to redefine the industry.
IRS change benefits business travelers
Happy faces generally are not associated with Internal Revenue Service changes in the tax code, but there are exceptions to every rule.
For example, the IRS has pleasantly surprised many people by announcing effective Oct. 1, receipts are no longer required to support claims for tax deductions for business travel and entertainment expenditures under $75.
The standard has been $25 for the past 33 years, a period involving a growth in inflation of about 500 percent.
Margaret Milner Richardson, the agency's commissioner, said the action was taken ``to help make government work better and cost less.''
It certainly will serve to reduce the staggering amount of paperwork companies must handle to document deductible ex-penses. Some tax lawyers and accountants have estimated that the new rule could eliminate as much as 50 percent of the receipts that firms typically process with employee expense reports.
The documentation change is belated, but welcome. It also brings joy, or as close as the IRS can come to providing joy, to anyone who has experienced the aggravation of losing track of receipts for small business expenses.