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PlasticsToday's Top 21 Game Changers of 2021

From breakthrough technologies in medical plastics, packaging, and automotive to transformative mergers and divestments, these milestones will resonate far beyond 2021.

We may have said this before — at the end of last year, if memory serves — but 2021 was, again, one helluva year. The pandemic is still with us, dashing earlier expectations that we would be well on the way to normalcy by now. On top of that, we were battered by supply-chain disruptions, record-breaking resin prices, and a rate of inflation not seen in almost 40 years. Despite all of that, engineers, researchers, and titans of industry kept their heads down and spirits up, solving problems and innovating as they do year in and year out.

It won't come as a surprise that the circular economy is well represented in this list. Sustainability has been one of the predominant themes of this year, and it will only amplify as we get further into this decade. The remarkably tunable properties of plastics — the frontiers of which continue to expand — have enabled advances in lightweighting and incremental increases in fuel efficiency and the range of electric vehicles. In the business realm, a couple of storied American brands made some bold moves in 2021 to better navigate a changing world. The specifics of all of this are encapsulated in the numbered 21 slides that follow that are in no particular order.

Did we miss something, or exaggerate the importance of one or more of these milestones? If so, please tell us in the comments section.

In the meantime, the PlasticsToday staff would like to wish all of you a very merry holiday season.

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