Kickstart: A showcase for athletics and plastics

Some of the world’s best athletes are about to show just what plastics can do to help them win.Not that I expect plastics will be mentioned specifically. Instead, the Tokyo Paralympics, starting Aug. 24 in Tokyo, will likely refer to carbon fiber if they mention materials at all. But make no mistake, the games will definitely show off both the athletes and improvements to the technology that will help them make it to the medal stand.Consider one discipline for an example, the long jump. Ossür, the highest-profile maker of running blades and other athletic prosthetics, notes that blades for jumpers are designed specifically for their needs. The carbon-fiber composite has to be engineered for fast forward motion, then transfer that energy into the vertical part of the jump, .But even as the games are a showcase for high-technology prosthetics, the vast majority — an estimated 90 percent — of people in need of even basic prosthetics don’t have access to them, according to the World Health Organization.Typically that’s because people are living in areas where they can’t access adequate medical services. But even in the U.S., some insurance policies don’t cover anything but the most basic equipment.So if you’re inspired watching the Paralympics, check out some of the groups out there (the is one I’m aware of) that are working to get more prosthetics to people in underserved areas and helping others benefit from the good that plastics can do. Inc. magazine’s list of the in North America has a new name, a North Carolina company growing rapidly in the children’s furniture and play arena.Nugget Comfort makes reconfigurable foam sofas that can be used to create places to play or rest.Nugget started in 2012 and opened its 100,000-square-foot factory in Butner, N.C., in 2020, where it assembles finished sofas with foam from a supplier. In 2020, it went through about 4.7 million pounds of foam.As part of its new factory, Nugget also installed its own recycling baler to help it cope with bags and Plastic sheet entering the factory.Since opening the plant in October, Nugget says it has recycled nearly 112,000 pounds of plastic. (The has a really interesting explanation of how it handles its recycling, written so the process is easy for people to understand even if they’ve never seen recycling.) Rehau Americas is marking for its plant in Cullman, Ala., this year. The site opened with 30 employees in 1986 and now has 800.It has also grown from 200,000 square feet up to 1 million square feet.The Cullman location originally launched with injection molding of bumper fascia. It then became first Rehau plant outside its home country of Germany to produce its cross-linked polyethylene pipe for plumbing and radient heating systems.”The [pipe] construction plant is presently dealing with the unprecedented demand that has impacted the entire construction materials industry, resulting in a production capacity increase of more than 30 percent,” Rehau said in a news release. “The automotive plant is in the thick of testing more than 70 new exterior components for the 2022 rollout of the first Mercedes electric SUV in the U.S. with yet another facility expansion on the horizon.”  Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you’d like to share with our readers? Plastics News would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor at Staying current is easy with Plastics News delivered straight to your inbox, free of charge. Subscribe to Plastics News Plastics News covers the business of the global plastics industry. We report news, gather data and deliver timely information that provides our readers with a competitive advantage.Customer Service:

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