Guest Columnist

Mel Ettenson’s Global Plastics News

IAPD is pleased to welcome Mel Ettenson as a guest columnist each month in the IAPD News offering unique content for IAPD members.

The column below is only a sample of the Global Plastics News. If you are interested in learning more about the entire publication, visit


Once again the Euro Zone debt crisis, especially in Greece, pervades all recovery elsewhere. As of this editorial deadline, it would appear that the crisis has been averted as debt restructuring has been approved. However the burden of higher interest rates, caused by uncertainty in global financial markets will affect growth in our industry. Business expansion may slow due to a shortfall of capital investment in the industries we depend on for new applications and thus new revenues. Of course, overarching this scenario is the specter of Iran and the possibility of a geopolitical crisis resulting in an oil embargo and all its pernicious effects on supplies of petrochemicals, which impact growth, pricing and future outcomes. We still expect to see pockets of global growth, especially in India, China, Brazil and possibly Russia.


Natural gas prices are at a two-year low, but of course oil and gasoline are nearing record high prices. Traditionally when we have seen rising gasoline prices “at the pump” with price increases elsewhere, it paves the way for the acceptance of price increases for our shapes industry. Industrial buyers seem to correlate rising gas prices, of which they are visually reminded every day while driving to their offices. When an increase in plastic semi-finished products occurs they accept the inevitability. We saw this in 1973 and in the 1980s and 1990s. We call this the “price at the pump” effect and it is manifesting itself now with price hikes in MMA and ABS, with PC next.


Kydex LLC introduces 64 new colors and surface effects to its “palette” line. Laird Plastics opens its first branch in Louisiana. Blackfriars, through its Port Plastics unit, acquires Farco Plastics, adding its six branches. Astari, based in Indonesia is purported to be eyeing U.S. for marketing cast acrylic sheet. In Europe, Vink, another Blackfriars unit, acquires Spanish distributor Lermont Plastics SA.


February 2012 distributor sales are coming in at double-digit increases in quarter-over-quarter and month-over-month according to reports reaching us from both plastic and industrial distribution leading firms.

We continue to receive candidates for “Who’s the oldest plastics distributor?” Latest suggestions are Ridout Plastics, Cope Plastics, Modern Plastics and E&T Plastics – all between 65 and 75 years old, with a predecessor company of Ridout (Rench) being founded in 1914 and thus approaching its 100th year! We previously reported on Franklin Fibre also approaching its centennial year with thermoset products.


About Mel Ettenson
During his 40-plus years in the plastics business, Ettenson always wondered why there wasn't a single, concise, reliable source of information about our industry. THE GLOBAL PLASTICS LETTER is a quick, highly informative plastics newsletter - to the point and timely enough to act on. In just four pages it packs relevant news, information and insights, with a primary focus on sheet, rod, tube and film, plastic semi finished shapes, plastic basic shapes, semi-finished plastics, plastic sheet rod tube and film. The newsletter covers pricing trends, market moves, new and upcoming products and services in the plastics industry.



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