Let's take a look behind the numbers of our updated ranking of North American film and sheet manufacturers.
This ranking is designed to reflect sales from the manufacture, extrusion and calendaring of film and sheet. Figures for some companies include sales from converting products not actually made in-house.
What is film? What is sheet? Both are flexible, so it's really just a matter of thickness. Some products are obvious like stretch film over meat at the grocery store or food takeout trays that are thermoformed from sheet. Think sold in rolls or cut to size and stacked.
For some products it comes down to the manufacturer to decide what to call it. From labels to mud flaps, this ranking has most everything in-between.
For huge volume companies, it makes sense to control the supply chain from resin manufacturing to product making. It's no surprise that there are big names and big total sales in this list, in fact, 20 percent of the listed firms are publicly held, compared to just 8 percent in our injection molding ranking, our biggest at 570 molders.
This year there are 171 firms ranked with related sales of $35.8 billion for the 2019 fiscal year. That's down 2.5 percent over last year. Remember those huge volume companies? Well, this is where it gets interesting.
Related resin prices fell on average 5 percent in 2019 — 8 percent if you consider the unusual swing of polypropylene. Small percentage changes at the billion dollar level added up to a $694 million decline in the top 10 alone. The breakout remained consistent with 81 percent in film sales and 19 percent for sheet.
Let's talk sustainability. Packaging is the largest end market for this group and packaging is a huge topic around circular economy talk. Manufacturers are taking ownership of the life cycle of their products, here are a few examples:
• From its August 2020 Annual Sustainability Report, Novolex of Hartsville, S.C., reports it has two polyethylene recycling centers, which specialize in recycling plastic consumer retail bags as well as films such as dry-cleaning bags, newspaper bags and other items labeled for "store drop off" recycling programs.
• Winpak Ltd. Of Winnipeg, Manitoba is now part of The Recycling Partnership's Polypropylene Recycling Coalition to Improve and Increase America's Recovery of Plastic Packaging and Strengthen the Circular Economy.
• Clorox Co., owner of ranked Glad Products Co., has joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, a collaborative, solutions-driven initiative led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund in partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
• Packaging company ProAmpac of Cincinnati has launched its own sustainability website.
• Flexible packaging firm, Charter NEX Films Inc. of Milton, Wis., has joined the Association of Plastic Recyclers and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.
• Next Generation Films Inc. is now a member of the GreenBlue Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), Bonset America Corp. of Bowns Summit, N.C., is also a member.
• Transcontinental Inc. of Montreal signed the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.
• Dolco Packaging, a Tekni-Plex business, announced a new collaboration with Agilyx Corp. of Tigard, Ore., a chemical recycler, to increase the recyclability of post-use plastics.