Kickstart: 'Normal' is getting closer, but not here yet

Toyota’s engine plant near Charleston, W.Va., offered vaccines to employees and their dependents on March 26Sometimes it feels like a “normal” post-pandemic life is already here. There are outdoor gatherings, people are traveling again and the American Mold Builders Association even had an in-person conference this week in Grand Rapids, Mich.Companies have been relaxing requirements for masks, although it’s complicated for firms with locations spread around the world. Toyota, for example, for its 36,000 U.S. employees starting the week of July 5 for its production sites in Missouri and Tennessee, then July 12 at other facilities.But that doesn’t mean we can all go right back to old habits. The U.S. is still averaging more than 10,000 new reported cases every day.Even Toyota’s upcoming changes on masking has a very big asterisk. To go mask-free, you’ll have to show proof that you’ve been vaccinated and “wear a company-issued identifier,” writes Larry Vellequette from Automotive News. Toyota continues to offer a $100 incentive to its workers for getting vaccinated.So let’s call it back to “normal-ish” for now and hope that it won’t be long until we can drop the “ish” part of that word.No use trying to avoid the candy in the checkout aisle. Now the candy will come to you.Candy maker Mars Inc. has teamed with autonomous robot maker Savioke to introduce “Smiley,” a robot stocked with a Mars candy selection that is roaming the aisles at a ShopRite store in Monroe, N.Y.The Plastic-bodied bot is equipped with lidar sensors to avoid running into people, and it will stop and wait if it senses someone is approaching it (hopefully to select a package of M&M’s off its shelves, not to knock it over).As the , it will also be able to take discrete reports on shoppers’ habits.Savioke also makes an autonomous robot used by hotels to deliver towels and other requested items to rooms. Wildlife rescuers in the United Kingdom are on the search for a seal with a Frisbee (or similar flying disc) encircling its neck.The seal was spotted along a beach off the Forvie National Nature Reserve on the Scottish Coast, just north of the English border, according to a post by on its Facebook page.The seal may have encountered the disc some time ago, but the toy become stuck around its neck. As the seal grew, the disc became tighter and more constrictive.Removing it will be difficult, the group said, even if it finds the seal again.”The seal is usually on the waters’ edge, meaning that it would escape to the water before it can be caught,” the group said. “We have learned this from previous efforts with other seals and the only outcome is unnecessary disturbance to the colony.”The group is asking anyone spotting the seal to take photos and report its location so the group can develop a plan to capture and help the seal. 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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