Plastics were in the spotlight in 2023, in Hollywood, in Washington, D.C., and even in United Nations talks in Paris and Nairobi, Kenya.
As we approach a new year, I get the feeling that readers are thinking, "OK, that's enough attention! Give plastics a break!"
Not a chance. Because now it's our turn to pile on. It's time once again for our 35th annual Plastic Globes, the awards where we poke fun at plastics-related headlines of the past year. As always, my aim is to end the year with a laugh as we look forward to a successful 2024.
WAY TO MAKE A SPLASH AWARD: To Daryl Hannah, who took advantage of the popularity of the Barbie movie to put together a fake campaign claiming that she was partnering with Mattel Inc. to go plastic-free by 2030.
This was an elaborate hoax that generated a lot of news coverage. I'm happy to say we weren't fooled, plus our own Bridget Janis got an opportunity to interview Hannah.
ROYAL FAMILY RUMBLE AWARD: To Great Britain's King Charles and Prince William, who are reportedly at odds in part because of plastics. Author Omid Scobie, in his new tell-all book Endgame, said Charles was "quietly annoyed" after William announced the Earthshot Prize — a global initiative aimed at tackling the climate crisis — without crediting his father for his years of championing environmental causes.
BEST COMPANY NAME AWARD: To a Carmel, Calif.-based bioplastics manufacturer that uses agricultural byproducts, including almond hulls and shells, as feedstock. It's memorable name? Nutjobs Inc.
WORST PLUG IN AN OPENING MONOLOGUE AWARD: To Jason Momoa, who hosted Saturday Night Live on Nov. 18 and took the opportunity to promote his Mananlu Water brand, which is packaged in aluminum instead of plastic.
HOW IS THIS OUR RESPONSIBILITY? AWARD: To the global plastics industry, because The Times in London chose to give maverick politician George Santos the nickname "America's Plastic Politician." I don't think it was meant as a compliment.
MONEY MAKER AWARD: To DSM Engineering Materials, which named its new artificial intelligence-powered color performance tool "Lucidiris." I had to look it up to make sure it wasn't named after the famous rapper/actor.
FACEBOOK JAIL AWARD: To Meta, which initially declined our request to boost a post about Steve Toloken's coverage of the White House bioplastics initiative. Facebook said it violated a rule against ads about social issues, elections or politics. We removed "Biden" from the headline and tried again, and it was approved. This is what you're going to crack down on, Zuckerberg?
PLASTICS NEWSMAKER AWARD: To Judith Enck, a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official and founder of a group called Beyond Plastics. Enck made headlines all year with research and stances on PVC and recycling.
WORST USE OF AI AWARD: To SRI CV Plastics, which in the supporting documents for a proposed factory in Lockport, N.Y., submitted what it claimed was a peer-reviewed article proving that PVC pipe has a lower environmental impact than other types of pipes. There are plenty of real pro-PVC studies out there, but SRI instead submitted a phony article that was produced by an artificial intelligence generator.
I'VE GOT A SECRET AWARD: To Berry Global, which in earnings calls with analysts in May and August talked about closing 20 facilities but declined to say which ones. As you'd imagine, a lot of Plastics News readers were interested in those details.
FOLLOW ME FOR AIR SHOW TWEETS AWARD: To me, because my most viral 2023 post on X (formerly Twitter) had nothing to do with plastics.
While out walking the dog on Aug. 13, I was one of the first people on the scene of a MiG-23 crash at the Thunder Over Michigan air show. I tweeted a couple of photos and within seconds I was fielding questions from news media around the world.
Fortunately, and incredibly, there were no injuries. I'm taking that as a good omen for what's ahead in 2024. Happy holidays!
Don Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of The Plastics Blog.