I know a lot of people who were glad to see 2018 in the rearview mirror. My advice to them: Be careful what you wish for.
2018 may be known as the year that plastic straws became evil, or the summer that everyone argued about a Supreme Court vacancy. Or maybe the fall that Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande split up, or the summer that Lebron James left Cleveland … again. Everyone has different interests and priorities.
We typically run our Plastic Globe awards in our last regular print issue of the year, but we delayed it this time because of some more bad news: the untimely death of Plastics Industry Association President and CEO Bill Carteaux. It didn't seem appropriate to make jokes that week.
Now the globes are back, and we hope a little humor will help kick off a wonderful 2019 for all our readers.
SUPERHERO UNMASKED AWARD: To Jim Vallette of the Healthy Building Network, who in a tweet called me the "defender of all things plastic." We think he must have gotten me confused with Captain Extruder, who is the real defender of all things plastic.
PEOPLE WILL CONTRIBUTE TO ANYTHING AWARD: To Wham-O Inc., which started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds so it could commercialize a square Frisbee.
COPY EDIT TWICE, POST ONCE AWARD: To Solvay Group, which posted a tweet claiming that "#Composites were present in the lunar module that safely landed Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts on the moon in 1696!" Wow, were the first rockets powered by sails, horses or steam?
WAIT, HOW DOES THIS SCANDAL INVOLVE PLASTICS? AWARD: To former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell. It turns out that a big scandal in the advertising world, where Sorrell was forced to step down from his $62.2 million-a-year post, had an unexpected plastics angle. WPP originally stood for Wire and Plastic Products, a United Kingdom-based housewares company that the CEO bought in 1985. He still owned the original company, but the only plastics involved now seem to be nylon coating of dish drying racks.
PERSONALIZED GREETINGS ARE OVERRATED AWARD: To a spokesperson for NOS Microsystems Ltd., which sent news editor Rhoda Miel an email related to Industry 4.0 with the warm, friendly greeting, "Dear contact."
CARL SPACKLER AWARD: Famous actor, comedian and curmudgeon Bill Murray told a newspaper that his new Murray Bros. Caddyshack Restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare Hotel proudly uses paper straws. He made the choice at the advice of his son's marine biologist girlfriend. "She says plastic straws are the worst thing in the world and it's everywhere and they don't really recycle," he said. "I hope none of you have stock in plastic straw companies, but there you go. Paper straws are spaghetti."
YES, BUT WHAT KIND OF PLASTIC IS THAT? AWARD: To the makers of the toy Wubble Bubble plastic ball, which according to its website is made from "top-secret super-thermo-stretch-tacular stuff."
A VICTORY FOR PLASTIC BANS IS A VICTORY FOR AL QAEDA AWARD: To Shabab, a terrorist group in East Africa. According to reports this summer, residents of areas controlled by the group were told they could no longer use plastic bags, out of respect for the environment. The New York Times reported that the announcement "prompted a flurry of mocking memes on the internet, some calling the Shabab the first eco-friendly terrorist organization."
BIGGEST PLASTICS-RELATED MISSTEP OF 2018 AWARD: To Starbucks CEO Kevin Thompson, who announced plans to eliminate plastic straws … and replace them with new lids that use more plastic. (Although the lids are recyclable).
DOES YOUR PROOFREADER SPEAK ENGLISH? AWARD: To Healthcare Intelligence Markets, which sent a news release touting a new study titled "Global Medical Plastic Shit Fights Market Research Report 2018." Don't believe me? Google it. The 163-page report costs $2,850.
THAT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA UNTIL WE SAID IT OUT LOUD AWARD: To Foxconn, which reportedly was considering bringing personnel from China to staff its new factory in Wisconsin. The company quickly walked back the idea when it generated unfavorable news headlines.
BORING TOY THAT MAKES PEOPLE ANGRY AWARD: To conservative website Keep and Bear, which started selling a Build the Wall toy set, with 101 small plastic building blocks that children could use to "keep America safe and strong" from "a mob of 10,000 Central American migrants."
FUR HEAVEN'S AWARD: To Chinese automaker GAC and BASF SE for sending a news release on three concept electric cars being shown at the Guangzhou auto show, using BASF materials. One, the 2U, was "particularly designed for female drivers and features a unique seat design with translucent trim parts made of BASF's Ultramid Vision. The furlike surface of the passenger's seat design is brought to life with BASF's Ultrafuse TPU 3D printing solution." I think someone needs to do some research on what female drivers really want in an automobile.
Thanks to the talented staff of Plastics News for many of these ideas. Happy new year.
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of the Plastic Blog. Follow him on Twitter @donloepp.