The plastics industry must be getting back to normal, because my top story list of 2022 has a bit more balance than it did in 2020 and 2021.
Resin pricing was still a huge topic of interest to Plastics News readers. So in this year's list of the most popular stories on PlasticsNews.com, I'm once again going to take some liberties for the sake of variety, so the Top 15 isn't dominated by one subject.
I'm also leaving some workplace injury stories off the list this year. But take my word for it, anything safety related is very important to Plastics News readers.
Two of our best safety stories this year were part of a special report by Steve Toloken, which benefited from numbers crunching by Hollee Keller: OSHA pushes public release of safety data but industry fears "shaming" and "Stagnant trend" in on-the-job deaths prompts calls for solutions.
Enjoy my list of some of the best stories written by our reporters and editors in 2022, and thanks to our readers who make it possible. Wishing you all a happy new year.
No. 15: Teijin making composite pickup box for 2022 Toyota Tundra. Sarah Kominek had the scoop that the former Continental Structural Plastics will manufacture the pickup boxes for the 2022 Toyota Tundra pickup truck.
No. 14: Novolex gets new owner in private equity deal. One of the biggest M&A stories involving a plastics processor in 2022, at least according to reader interest.
Jim Johnson was all over Novolex this year, make sure to also check out Novolex sees only more plastics recycling in its future and Novolex employees will share in any future company sale proceeds.
Processor-related M&A news is one of our specialties. Another big one that got a ton of clicks: Sweden's Rosti buys Wisconsin-based PCI to build global platform.
No. 13: Judge cancels permits for Formosa plastics plant, citing health risks. A Louisiana judge Sept. 14 put another major hurdle in front of Formosa Plastics' large resin manufacturing complex planned in the state, canceling its air quality permits in the wake of a lawsuit from environmental groups.
In response, Formosa Group LA LLC said it would "explore all legal options" to the decision.
No. 12: Radoszewski out as CEO of Plastics Industry Association. Tony Radoszewski was out as president and CEO of the Plastics Industry Association in March, following a period of significant staff turnover. For a comprehensive collection of Steve Toloken's coverage of the departure, see Turmoil at the Plastics Industry Association: A timeline.
No. 11: Sign of the times: Excess recycled PET driving prices lower. Prices for recycled material are subject to the same supply and demand forces as virgin resins. In August, Jim Johnson noted that the bottom had temporarily dropped out of the market for recycled PET.
No. 10: Private equity buyer HIG outbids rivals for Avient's distribution unit. One of the biggest M&A stories of the year, Frank Esposito covers the sale of the largest U.S. resin distributor.
No. 9: Teo, Sigma film may avoid $40M payment in suit as judge considers setting aside verdict. A $40 million jury verdict against Alfred Teo Sr. and several units of film giant Sigma Stretch Film was up in the air after the judge in the case said that the chances of him sustaining the verdict "are probably slim to none."
Frank Esposito talked to everyone involved in the case for this in-depth report.
No. 8: California passes strictest plastics law in US, with EPR and recycling targets. Steve Toloken's story on California lawmakers passing the country's toughest plastics pollution and recycling plan, setting a 65 percent recycling rate target and putting in place an extended producer responsibility system for packaging.
No. 7: Dow temporarily cutting PE production by 15 percent. In August, as the economy start to cool and some market watchers predicted a recession, Dow Inc. (and some other suppliers) idled some resin capacity. This was the first of Frank Esposito's stories on the subject.
No. 6: Industry braces for return of Superfund excise taxes. Frank Esposito's story looks at the impact on resin pricing of the reinstatement of federal Superfund excise taxes, which started July 1.
Negotiations between buyers and sellers were ongoing, but observers expected the prices of most resins to rise about a quarter cent per pound.
For more on the subject, I recommend IRS provides guidance for how excise taxes will impact resin pricing.
No. 5: US Plastics Pact, backed by big firms, pushes cuts in 'problematic' packaging. Steve Toloken's story took a closer look at the U.S. Plastics Pact's January announcement that its member companies plan to stop using 11 "problematic" materials like polystyrene and PVC in packaging by 2025.
No. 4: Coca-Cola eliminating green PET in North America. Jim Johnson had the story on how Coke is eliminating the use of green PET, a move designed to boost bottle-to-bottle recycling.
No. 3: Celanese buys DuPont units for $11B. In case you need a reminder, Celanese now owns the former DuPont Mobility & Materials business, which includes the industry-leading nylon operations.
DuPont sold the business in part to generate cash to buy Rogers Corp. for $5.2 billion, but that deal fell through before the end of 2022.
No. 2: Ukraine crisis could mean higher resin prices. On Feb. 24, Frank Esposito talked with resin market experts about the impact of Russia's Feb. 23 attack on Ukraine.
Another story on the topic worth a read, the March 4 follow up Plastics industry braces for pricing, supply chain problems due to Ukraine conflict.
No. 1: Lego to build $1B US molding plant. Rhoda Miel wrote our initial story on toymaker Lego A/S's announcement that it would invest $1 billion to build an injection molding plant near Richmond, Va.
For more insight into Lego's decision, I highly recommend Catherine Kavanaugh's follow-up story, Lego part of reshoring, foreign direct investment growth in US. That story includes more detail on the company's history of U.S. manufacturing and the reasons for expanding here now, 16 years after the company closed its big molding plant in Enfield, Conn.