As we get ready to mark the second anniversary of the start of a global pandemic, most plastics company managers are thinking, "OK, I think we know what we're doing now."
Unless your first name is Karen or Brandon — if you have to ask, Google it — 2021 was a year when most of us got into a groove and plowed ahead. Toward exactly what, we don't know. But here we go, full speed into 2022.
By this point a year ago, we'd all become experts at virtual meetings, conferences … even happy hours and house parties. NPE was canceled? Sure, that seemed like a big deal back in January. But by the time May rolled around, we were all buried in work. It honestly felt like we wouldn't have had time for a week in sunny Orlando, Fla.
I'm not saying that everything was great. In fact, 2021 was a year when everyone — and I mean everyone — was suddenly an expert on all the issues that plastics companies have been dealing with for years.
I bet supply chain issues came up at your family Thanksgiving dinner — right after the discussion about grocery prices! When you go out for a sandwich, your server can tell you all about plastics and sustainability, which you'll hear after you ask for a straw. And every business you walk into, anywhere, has a "now hiring" sign on the door — just like every plastics company has had since the end of the Great Recession.
And don't get us started on plastic resin pricing. When you turn on the local news and they're talking about ethylene, the Texas deep freeze and why you can't get a clear plastic cup at Starbucks, you know we've really got the public's attention.
OK, we've got their attention. Now, what should we do with it? I'm thinking Frank Esposito and I should syndicate our Polymer Points Live program. Anyone know the right people at CNBC?
I'm kidding! Because if you haven't already guessed, this is the Plastic Globe awards, our annual column where we poke fun at plastics-related news of the past year. I hope a little humor will help kick off a wonderful 2022 for all our readers. And like I always say, don't forget that we're laughing with you, not at you!
LOST IN TRANSLATION AWARD: To our friend Ginu Joseph, editor of a plastics magazine in India, who illustrated a Top 100 Best in Plastics special issue with a Tyrannosaurus rex coming out of an egg. I didn't understand why, but it got my attention.
WE DRAW THE LINE AT 'ADULT' AWARD: To Veselina Dzhingarova, a marketing person I don't know, who sent an email in February asking if we were interested in selling guest posts on PlasticsNews.com to her clients. Oh, and a follow-up question, are we OK with adult/gambling/marijuana links? I don't think that's a good fit for our audience.
LIFE OF BRIAN AWARD: To the American Chemistry Council's daily Smartbrief email, which always looks on the bright side of life in the chemical industry. No matter what the story, they seem to be able to find something positive to emphasize. In a February story on another delay for a proposed petrochemical project in Ohio, the Smartbrief noted that the project has "tremendous support" and that "the project team continues to have productive conversations regarding finding new partners."
HALL OF FAME AWARD: Retired Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert, who earned a headline in April when a sports auction house sold the blue plastic case where he stored his false teeth for nearly $20,000. He wrote "Teeth Holder In Locker" on one side, and the other has his signature, jersey No. 58 and "HOF '90." The teeth were not included.
PLASTIC ISN'T BORING AWARD: To former presidential candidate Walter Mondale, whose obituary from April came up in my regular news searches. Did he have some plastics industry connection that I didn't know about? I finally clicked on a story to find out. Nope, it was this sentence: "Even his supporters said he came across as plastic and bland."
ANTI-VAX BUT PRO-BAG AWARD: To Ohio state Rep. George Lang, who avoided masks and opposed the COVID-19 vaccine, but made a pitch on the House floor in favor of single-use plastic bags to combat the coronavirus. According to the Ohio Capital Journal, Lang said "it has been proven with empirical data that it is safer and better off for an individual to use a plastic bag" that's only used once and less likely to transmit the coronavirus.
BEST REBRAND AWARD: To Joseph Stodgel, who renamed his plastic recycling firm Plan 4 Plastic because people kept thinking it was a bicycle shop. The old name? Upcycle Santa Fe.
SHARP-DRESSED MAN AWARD: To Britain's Prince Charles, who showed up to a July beach cleanup in Scotland wearing a kilt. Maybe this should be the "Please Don't Bend Over Award."
WORST USE OF REUSABLE PACKAGING AWARD: To whoever came up with the "milk crate challenge."
REALLY GREAT PUMPKIN AWARD: To sustainability scientist Mark Falinski, who generated some Halloween-related headlines in October when he sent a release highlighting his research showing that plastic jack-o-lanterns are better for the environment than the real ones. Yeah, but you can't roast seeds from a plastic pumpkin.
THAT'S NOT HOW A BEACH CLEANUP WORKS AWARD: To city officials in Slagelse, Denmark, who spent $150,000 to clean seaweed and plastic from a local beach, then disposed of it by dumping it into the sea. Experts called it "completely idiotic."
Have a happy holiday everyone, thanks for reading Plastics News and best of luck in 2022.
Don Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of the Plastics Blog. Follow him on Twitter @donloepp.