Pregis, a top maker of film for packaging in the U.S., has been honored for its innovations. The bad news from a plastics perspective is that the award is for innovations in adding more paper production capabilities as its customers de-select plastics.
"Twenty-five percent of the growth in the business is replacing plastic with paper. Five or six years ago, we were 90 percent plastic," Tom Wetsch, chief innovation officer for Chicago-based Pregis, told our sister paper Crain's Chicago Business. "Now it's 60 percent plastic and 40 percent paper."
Pregis was No. 8 in Crain's Chicago's Most Innovative Companies list, revealed on Oct. 24. It ranks at No. 14 among North American film and sheet makers, according to Plastics News' data, with an estimated $700 million in sales for the region.
The Most Innovative Companies list tracks firms based on the quality of patents granted. Pregis had 15 patents last year related to packaging equipment, such as machines that can fold paper to fill the voids in boxes shipped to individual customers.
Riddell, the top maker of football helmets and other protective equipment, was No. 2 on the innovation list. The Des Plaines, Ill.-based company was noted for its technology in improving helmet safety and integrating sensors into the injection molded helmet to help gauge how hard of a hit a player takes.