2015 hasn't been all bad, from a plastics point of view. NPE was good, plus we had some entertaining features with presses that were either stolen en route to the show, missing or falling off trucks.
The Plastics Hall of Fame ceremony was shorter and more entertaining than ever, and the esteemed group finally has a second woman member.
Bans on plastic bags, microbeads, polystyrene food-service packaging and water bottles continue to percolate across the country, and indeed around the world. But some of the main battlegrounds, like California (for bags) and New York City (for PS foam) remain in flux as we approach a new year.
Most importantly, early reports are that Disney didn't ruin “Star Wars.”
With all that in mind, let's take a look at our annual irreverent tribute to the plastics industry's newsmakers, our 2015 Plastic Globe awards.
MOST MEMORABLE PLASTIC BAG STORY AWARD: In the Republican rebuttal to President Barack Obama's State of the Union in January, freshman Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa talked about when she was a child, and her mom would slip plastic bread bags over her shoes to keep them dry. “But I was never embarrassed, because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.”
WHAT KIND OF JOB IS THAT AWARD: Many hats off to the world's chief infrastructure officers, who ensure systems are aligned and liaison on the ground. Never heard of this kind of CIO? Neither did we, until we got the Jan. 27 news release: “Cooper Standard names Campbell as Chief Infrastructure Officer.”
LONGEST STRETCH TO HOOK INTO VIRAL NEWS AWARD: To Bud Industries, who — just before this year's Super Bowl — noted that its fiberglass enclosures are stable in a blog post titled: “Bud fiberglass enclosures don't deflate (sorry Belichick).”
HERE'S OUR EXCUSE TO MENTION KATY PERRY IN THE PLASTIC GLOBES AWARD: On Feb. 3 (two days after Super Bowl 49 — thankfully they are retiring the Roman numeral thing), 3-D printing equipment maker Stratasys Ltd. put out a release with the eye-catching headline: “Katy Perry lights up prismatic world tour stage with Stratasys 3-D printed mohawks.”
WE'RE STILL GIGGLING AWARD: To machinery company KraussMaffei, which sent out a news release on Feb. 4 with the headline “Small nozzle with a large impact.”
BEST TWEET AWARD: To Mike Burns of RTi, who posted this on Feb. 13 in the middle of falling oil prices — “The most outrageous #polyethylene price increase letters of all time was sent today. Dow announced a $.05 price increase for March. LOL!”
FACEBOOK ISN'T NECESSARILY YOUR FRIEND AWARD: When we posted a story on Feb. 21 about the Plastivan and Plastic Pioneers getting donations for their education programs, Facebook decided that these headlines were “related” stories: “Chemicals in plastics may alter boys' genitals before birth,” “Plastics labeled ‘BPA-free' might be B.S.,” and “Study finds rising levels of plastics in oceans.”
HAVE YOU MET ANY TEENAGER AWARD: A German company introducing flavor enhancers in small PET bottles opened its news release with this bold statement of fact — “Boredom is a thing of the past! With its new range of “Liquid Food & Beverage Enhancers,” Döhler is bringing an end to monotony in water, tea, coffee and beer.”
THESE AREN'T THE TARGETED READERS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR AWARD: For the linked ad on a Facebook post by anti-pollution group Alliance For The Great Lakes offering free shipping on K-Cup coffee pods.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF AWARD: A quote in a BBC story on discoveries in graves from about 1610 at Jamestown raises the question: Was there ever a time when ancient Greek environmentalists complained that pottery lasts forever like current ones do about plastics?
“It's not going to happen overnight, but there's a time limit on how long we can do archaeology,” said William Kelso, director of archaeology at Jamestown Rediscovery. “Pottery lasts forever but wood doesn't and iron used for armor and weapons is going to be gone. We have another 20 years I would think.”
WHALES HATE PLASTICS AWARD: In August, two young fishermen from Australia became global celebrities when a whale came up to their boat, apparently seeking help removing fishing line and a plastic bag from its face. After the fishermen leaned over and removed the rubbish, the whale posed for a “selfie,” then appeared to show its appreciation by slapping its fin on the water.
No word on whether the whale was on its way to an undersea recycling bin when it was entangled in the trash.
WHAT KIND OF PLASTIC RODENT IS GERALDO AWARD: On Sept. 2, Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner sued toymaker Hasbro Inc. in U.S. District Court for “creating, manufacturing, and distributing for sale a plastic toy hamster named ‘Harris Faulkner' as part of its “Pet Pawsabilities” toy line.
The suit contends “Hasbro's portrayal of Faulkner as a rodent is demeaning and insulting.”
MOBILE AND MOTORS AWARD: In a sign of how rapidly things are changing in the auto industry, where digital interconnectivity and Bluetooth capability is becoming as much of a selling point as horsepower, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche noted the importance of automakers to keep up with trends, or risk seeing their cars become just another piece of hardware for the likes of Google or Apple cars. “We do not plan to become the Foxconn of Apple,” Zetsche said.
SOCIAL MEDIA STRIKES AWARD: Minutes after NASA began a news conference to announce it found water on Mars, housewares company Contigo posted to Twitter a photo of one of its reusable water bottles along with “Water on Mars? We'll still bring our own to play it safe. #MarsAnnouncement”
WHAT'S MY NAME AWARD: Logiciells Technologies Pvt., a Gurgaon, India-based information technology firm, sent PN editor Don Loepp two emails on Dec. 9, one addressed to “Carole” and one to “Dave.” News editor Rhoda Miel got an identical copy of the email, addressed to “Randy.”
IF ONLY THEY HAD PLASTICS AWARD: One of our most popular blog posts of the year was a November item by Mike Lauzon on the failure of sewer pipes that were widely installed in Canada in the 1940s and 1950s. Fortunately, it wasn't a plastics story. The smelly messes were the result of using pipe made from cardboard and tar, when metal was in short supply after World War II. Too bad pipe made of PVC, ABS or high density polyethylene weren't widely available at that time when housing construction boomed for returning war veterans.
MATERIAL SCIENCE FOR THE UNINFORMED AWARD: To the Huffington Post, which posted a July 1 item on Dunkin' Donuts' new insulated coffee cups sold in New York City. The author wrote: “The coffee is the same as ever, but the cup that contains it isn't. Instead of being made from familiar styrofoam, it's made of plastic.”
THE GERMAN ENGINEERNG? AWARD: To Volkswagen AG, for rigging software in some of its diesel engines to pass American emissions test. Fahrvergnügen?
THE OK, OK, I'LL PAY AWARD: To Christopher Filos, the former HPM owner who appeared in court and agreed to pay the company's taxes a few days before his trial in the case was to begin in Mount Gilead, Ohio.