Kickstart: Katrina, Ida and your company's most important resource

About 17 years ago, I had a chance to visit the Gulf Coast as part of a story on the growth of the plastics industry in Mississippi. A year and a half later, I revisited the area in the months after Hurricane Katrina hit the region. The catastrophic loss of life in New Orleans was the centerpiece of most news coverage in the area, for obvious reasons. But the plastics industry in low-lying Louisiana and Mississippi also took a big hit.In Long Beach, Miss., almost nothing was left standing along the shoreline. Steps led to buildings that were no longer there. Bridges were out, roads damaged.But for the most part, plastics companies — both molders and resin plants — escaped beyond needing few repairs, with a few unfortunate exceptions. Company leaders I spoke to were gratified to report that none of their employees were killed in the storm. Many of those workers, though, had significant damage to their homes. So firms brought in mobile homes to provide workers with temporary housing. They supplied food and clothes and a place to get fresh water and take a shower.On Aug. 29, the 16th anniversary of Katrina making landfall near New Orleans, Hurricane Ida hit the same region, just south of the city, as a major storm. It’s still far too early to know what impact Ida may have had on plastics firms in the area now, and any extensive shutdowns may add to material shortages and price increases in the coming weeks or months.I expect we’ll hear more soon, both about the impact on material supply and on workers who have already been stressed. But as we do, let’s recall one of the biggest lessons for any company facing catastrophe: “Your whole perspective has to be that your business is built around your people,” one injection molding executive told me at the time. “You are your people, so taking care of your people becomes the No. 1 priority.” The humble bottle cap is undergoing some serious revisions.They’ve already been reduced in size and weight. Now with some regions about to require that caps be attached to bottles, they’re undergoing another shift for design and manufacturing.of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said earlier this month that its tethered cap will be available by the end of 2021 in Europe through its Affaba & Ferrari brand.Indiana-based Closure Systems International Inc. has now also unveiled its “Twist & Flip” cap.”We are collaborating within our industry, our communities and with our customers, to eliminate Plastic pollution and improve recovery and recycling rates,” Richard Burt, vice president of business development at .Closures have gotten extra attention because when separated from the bottle, they’re too small for existing recycling equipment, meaning they end up in landfills or as litter. The European Union is requiring that by 2024 all nonreturnable bottles of up to 3 liters have a tethered cap.Leaders from four firms will talk about the impact of tethered caps as part of the Plastics News Caps & Closures Conference, Sept. 20-23. The conference will be online. Find . Caps aren’t the only element of plastic packaging under scrutiny. Assistant Managing Editor Steve Toloken writes about two different issues in the U.S.In California, state legislators are considering a bill that would refine recyclability marketing claims on packages. The question is whether containers should be able to claim they are recyclable — either with the chasing arrows symbol or other marketing.Lawmakers’ moves to could mean that items such as polypropylene tubs or thermoformed PET packaging won’t be listed as recyclable because some curbside programs don’t include them.At the same time, members of the U.S. Plastics Pact are working to finalize a list of possible types of plastic packaging. Similar pacts in other regions have listed polystyrene — sometimes expanded PS, sometimes PS in general — as a problematic material, which could make it harder for PS to compete for packaging business.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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