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Rough week for PVC, Telles; Brighter days for bioplastics in general; and congrats to SPE

PVC has definitely had better weeks. When two household-name companies promote their decision to stop using you as a material in the products it buys, in the case of health care giant Kaiser Permanente, and in the packaging it sources, in the case of billion dollar brand collector, Procter & Gamble, you've definitely lost some sizable application opportunities.

Medical Channel editor, Doug Smock, and Packaging Channel editor, Heather Caliendo reported on the PVC un-sourcing for PlasticsToday on the same day, interviewing representatives at Kaiser and P&G about why vinyl had fallen out of favor, as well as getting the vinyl side of the story from PVC advocacy group, The Vinyl Institute.

As a material, PVC is nothing if not resilient, and it has certainly weathered past storms due its status as the eco-conscious's whipping polymer of choice, but whether or not we're at a tipping point for vinyl in some markets will be something PlasticsToday will continue to monitor.

Wherever you stand on the matter, Doug's defense of PVC, and his breakdown of a potential path to a greener future in his Medical Musings blog, is a must read for vinyl backers and haters.

As a headline, this one is not uncommon, especially these days:

"Company X seeks to simplify its supply chain"

With that in mind, Clare Goldsberry has some New Year's resolutions to make sure that when OEMs and brand owners inspect their supply chain, you're not the weakest link.

The paths to commercial prosperity diverged this week for two of the emerging bioplastics markets' seminal players, Cereplast and Metabolix. Green Matter editor Karen Laird covered the announcement that ADM was pulling out of its partnership with Metabolix, Telles, which sought to commercialize the Mirel brand of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). Cereplast, meanwhile, announced that its sales saw continued growth in 2011.

Regardless of the financial fates of individual players, our readers do see a sizable role for bioplastics in the not-so-distant future, with 44% responding in a pole that bioplastics will capture a sizable share of the plastics market within the next 6 to 10 years, while 31% thought it could be sooner, and 25% feel it could be a decade or more.

Elsewhere in bioplastics, Heather reported on the unlikely convergence of thermoforming and a fungus-fueled growing tray and AT&T's move to use partially sugar-cane derived PET from Klöckner Pentaplast in its packaging.

Automotive/mobility editor Stephen Moore covered what could be a very interesting development in container ships: a move to LNG as a fuel source in response to new regulations seeking to lessen the impact of the massive ships on environmentally sensitive areas. Wouldn't you know, plastics play a very important role.

Finally, a warm welcome to Willem (Wim) De Vos, new CEO of the Society of Plastics Engineers and congratulations to SPE on finding their man. Exiting CEO Susan Oderwald skillfully guided the association through the market wringer that was the last seven years, keeping SPE relevant during a time when many similar associations simply vanished. It will be interesting to see what, if any, differences come from Mr. De Vos's leadership, given his extensive plastics background.

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