Each year, Plastics News presents its Plastic Globe awards, given to dubious or otherwise unusual newsmakers from the past year.
DEEP FREEZE AWARD: To the village of Andermatt, Switzerland, which came up with a novel way of protecting a local glacier from melting every summer — they wrapped it in cling film. A local resort estimated the cost of the plastic at 62,000 euros ($73,266).
DOWN UNDER BLUNDER AWARD: To the Australian state of Tasmania, which in May named Baker Ben Kearney its “2005 Tasmanian of the Year” for successfully lobbying retailers to stop using plastic bags.
GALLOWS HUMOR AWARD: To Bob Rossiter, chairman of automotive supplier Lear Corp. In the midst of a conference call in July where he discussed restructuring, he wrapped up one answer with this: “And by the way, there's good news in all of this … my wife just called and she shifted our insurance to Geico, and we just saved a bundle.”
BEST HEADLINE AWARD: To satirical magazine The Onion, which featured a story in June headlined: “Chinese factory worker can't believe the sh-t he makes for Americans.”
I'LL NEVER GROW UP AWARD: To Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, a pair of pranksters known as The Yes Men, who like to play jokes on Dow Chemical Co. According to the Midland, Mich., Daily News, their satire has included setting up phony Web sites that mimic Dow's, and giving a speech at a London conference to say that Dow had formulated a way to measure risk of life vs. financial benefit.
BEST PLASTICS-RELATED STORY OF 2005 AWARD: To Wiggerl Hagn, owner of a large beer garden in Munich, Germany, who decided to experiment with injection molded plastic mugs, instead of glass, at this year's Munich Oktoberfest. “We cleaned up almost 26 tons of broken glass on the floor of my tent” last year, he told one newspaper, and the lightweight plastic was easier for waitresses to handle. Just one drawback: when patrons toasted, instead of a “clink” sound, the plastic cups made a dull “plop.”
AND I CAN PROVE IT AWARD: To the unnamed reader who called our office and volunteered proof of his Plastics News subscription by rattling the paper in his hand on the other end of the phone line.
WICKED WITCHES OF THE SOUTH AWARD: To Katrina, and her ugly sister Rita, who made a mess of so many people's lives and businesses.
THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT TO MARKET AWARD: To Toronto's Design Exchange, which held an exhibition to celebrate plastics' prominent role in Canada's history — only to have its mascot, a 1950s-era, polystyrene piggy bank, stolen from the entrance to the show. The original molder, the Reliable Toys division of Viceroy Rubber & Plastics Ltd., molded a replacement when it heard the news.
PLASTIC SURGERY IS FOR THE BIRDS AWARD: To dentist Toshiaki Chiba in Tokyo, who gave an endangered oriental white stork a plastic prosthetic beak in November, allowing the bird, named Taisa, to resume the all-important practice of catching live fish. One wonders if anyone's working on prosthetic fins for the fish.
NEVER-ENDING MAALOX MOMENT AWARD: To all processors that have had to endure the stress of soaring resin and energy prices virtually all year long. Oops, another 8 cent-per-pound increase — better tear up the latest two-week business plan and start over!
FUNNY, THIS DOESN'T FEEL LIKE A BEMIS AWARD: To injection molder Bemis Manufacturing Co., for fighting a Chinese infringement on a patent for one of its plastic toilet-seat designs. Bemis claimed the copy, which carried the Bemis name, was inferior. It hired Chinese lawyers, and said it convinced the Chinese firm to stop making the knockoffs.
IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, HIRE 'EM AWARD: To the paper industry, for luring American Plastics Council chief Rod Lowman away from APC to build the same kind of advertising campaign for paper that he ran for plastics, before budget tightening virtually eliminated the “Plastics Make it Possible” campaign.
USER-FRIENDLY DESIGN AWARD: To Ranchmark Inc., which is marketing its new OpenX hand tool created specifically to help consumers open those pesky thermoformed plastic packages.
HIT THE WALL AWARD: To Glenn Starkey, president of Progressive Components Inc., who, when he's not busy playing blues guitar with his brother, has an odd habit of running marathons to relax. His several long runs this year included a 26-mile dash along the top of the Great Wall in China. Only Glenn …
MARKETER OF THE YEAR AWARD: To Miniature Precision Components Inc., winner of the most recent Plastics News Processor of the Year Award. The Walworth, Wis.-based injection molder celebrated the honor by renting a billboard on the highway near the Detroit airport, hanging a banner from the roof of its headquarters plant, and taking out an ad in Ford Motor Co.'s in-house magazine.
OUTSOURCING THE CEO AWARD: To Newell Rubbermaid Inc., which finally showed the door to top executive Joseph Galli Jr. after a tumultuous, four-year tenure.
THIS PHOENIX IS HAVING TROUBLE RISING AWARD: To Mexico's so-called Phoenix Project, originally a $2.7 billion petrochemical and plastics venture that has limped along for years, nearly collapsed this fall, and now appears to be resurrected again, on a scaled-down basis.
CAN THIS CURRENCY FLOAT? AWARD: To the Chinese government, for tip-toeing toward a freer-moving yuan in July when it removed the currency from its decade-long peg to the U.S. dollar and revalued it by a modest 2.1 percent. Not much, but the symbolic move nevertheless was heard 'round the world.
WE'RE NOT FOR SALE AWARD: To pipe maker Hancor Inc. of Findlay, Ohio, whose officials insisted that competitor Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. wasn't going to buy the company. Advanced Drainage Systems ended up buying Hancor in a deal that closed in July.