The soaring global demand for virgin PET resin as outlined earlier this month at the PET Update '95 conference in Jamesburg, N.J., speaks volumes about the elasticity of the plastics industry. One of the conference's speakers, G. Keith Mitchell, described the growth of PET as ``virtually unstoppable.''
Mitchell, director of PCI (PET Packaging, Resin, Recycling) Ltd. of Derby, England, noted that by 2000, demand for the polymer will double from the present 5 billion pounds a year. He pointed out that soft drink bottle production alone will equal the 1993 PET market at the end of this decade.
This is why Germany's Hoechst Group plans to invest $500 million to triple its PET packaging resin production and Dow Chemical Co. is acquiring PET facilities in Italy.
The reasons behind the surging demand are at once familiar and revealing: Markets in developing countries are expanding rapidly, global changes in consumer drink packaging are taking place along with the greater use of smaller bottles, hot-fill technology is spreading in Asia, and new markets are becoming available in Eastern Europe and the Far East.
What the PET industry is experiencing is symptomatic of the major social and economic changes that have altered the global political - and geographic - landscape as this century prepares to close. Not since World War II has the scope of change been so pronounced or so large and accompanied by the opportunity to benefit so many.
Waldo's innovative world
The late artist Georgia O'Keeffe once observed that where she was born and how she lived was unimportant. ``It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest,'' she said.
It was. Which is to say, so are the many accomplishments of the legendary Waldo L. Semon. The Alabama native, who earned his doctorate in chemistry in 1923 at the University of Washington, counts among his numerous inventions PVC. More than 20,000 PVC-related patents since have been issued by the United States to other inventors for use of the material - one of the world's top-selling plastics.
The 97-year-old Semon, who worked for 37 years as a chemical engineer at BFGoodrich Co. in Akron, Ohio, is one of 1995's eight recipients of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's prestigious American Innovator Award.
Semon retired from BFGoodrich in 1963 and later served as a research professor at Kent State University. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron earlier this year. In 1982, Semon was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in Leominster, Mass. He received a trophy made of methyl methacrylate.
He was not able to travel to Washington for ceremonies hosted by the Department of Commerce last month, so officals from the Trademark Office went to his Ohio retirement home Nov. 8 to present him with the Innovator Award.
Congratulations, Dr. Semon.