A pioneer in blown film technology has garnered a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association.
Mirek Planeta, founder of Macro Engineering & Technology Inc., accepted his award at a gala dinner hosted by CPIA at the Universal Eventspace venue in Vaughan, Ontario, on Sept. 14.
Planeta immigrated to Canada in 1974 with a professional engineer degree soon after he launched his career in plastics and packaging in what was then Czechoslovakia, and the United Kingdom. His first posting in North America was project engineer with the former Bonar Packaging Films in Burlington, Ontario. In 1978 he founded Macro Engineering, which grew into a major global player in blown film technology from its Mississauga, Ontario, headquarters.
Planeta, 70, retired from Macro this year after filing more than 30 patents in machinery and processes for plastics extrusion. He led development of the world's first dual lip air ring, which has become standard in the blown film industry.
Macro's reputation for technology development grew around the world, and the firm now exports 90 percent of its production. Planeta and colleagues at Macro worked with most of the major film resin suppliers to advance film technology, including Dow Chemical Co., DuPont Co., Nova Chemicals, ExxonMobil and 3M.
Planeta said he is amazed at how blown film has captured markets ranging from food packaging to 60-foot wide structures used as geomembranes.
“Blown film has expanded so rapidly because it is so versatile,” Planeta said in a phone interview. “It can provide complex structures with customized properties.”
Food packaging will continue to be a high growth area, according to Planeta. As the planet's population grows, it will become more important to protect food during shipping.
“For example, in China, an estimated 60 percent of food is wasted through spoilage, vs. 2 to 3 percent waste in North America,” Planeta said.
Extrusion technology guru Paul Waller said Planeta is a visionary who possesses gifted design talents, leadership and respect for others. Waller joined Macro in the early days “in a leap of faith” when the company was a 25-person business.
“Few of his competitors had such an international focus in those days,” Waller said in an email correspondence.
Waller went on to found his own plastic technology consulting business, now called Plastics Touchpoint Group Inc. in Thornhill, Ontario.
Other Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Tom Rose of Layfield Flexible Packaging, Robert Torokvei of Scepter Corp., Sajjad Ebrahim of Par Pak and Grantland Cameron, a pioneer of Alberta's recycling industry.