C.L. Smith (CLS), was founded as a full-line container distributor of rigid packaging based in St. Louis, Missouri. As the container division grew, our founder, C.L. “Bud” Smith saw a new customer need. Customers needed smaller runs, shorter lead times, alternative size options, and greater customization from their existing bottle manufacturers. Lyons Blow Molding is later launched as an extrusion blow molder with the goal of giving customers greater flexibility, more variety, and solid performance reliability when manufacturing plastic bottles. Companies quickly see the value in using Lyons Blow Molding as a turn-key manufacturer to design, manufacture, package, and deliver smaller run, HDPE custom mold plastics.
The Game of Billiards
Throughout history, essential tools and products consisted of ivory, wood, metal, plant fibers, and animal pelts. Billiard balls is a product that benefited from these essentials. For a long period of time ivory was used to make billiard balls. The decade of the 1800s relied mostly on elephants for their ivory, including a total of eight balls per tusk. This started to become unsustainable and threatening to the elephants, which led people to start looking for another solution. In the late 1800s, celluloid started to be used and was formed from cellulose and camphor in plants. This later became a replacement for ivory.
The Rise of Chemistry
Both industrial revolutions created a huge demand for materials, which led chemists to start researching new ways to help supply this. In the early 1900s, Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland created a new synthetic plastic that changed how products would eventually be made. Synthetic plastic can be used in a more variety of ways, for example, resistant to heat, does not conduct electricity, and used as a good insulator. This new plastic was also great for automotive and electrical companies that were increasing in the early 1900s. Eventually, things started to really change:
- Cellophane was made water resistant
- Vinyl replaced rubber
- Polyethylene became the most used plastic
- Polyvinyl chloride was discovered
- Polyurethanes was invented
- Nylon replaces silk
All of these helped solve many challenges in everyday life, providing more cost-friendly and reliable options. Today, plastic is now a commonly used term in society.
The Movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”
The 1946 Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” teaches about plastics and how they contributed to World War II. A man is offered an investment opportunity in plastics, which later would be known as the biggest thing since the radio. The man eventually turns it down, which ends up being a huge mistake. The plastic industry became a fortune from all the planes requiring plastic in the war. Plastics were used in radar equipment, airplane wheels, and fighter planes, which made World War II one of the biggest productions on plastic.
Mid-20th Century Baby Boom
In the late 40s and 50s, plastic started replacing car seats, refrigerators, and most of the food packaging. New plastic also started being invented, such as polyester, polypropylene, and polystyrene. These allowed us to do more with less because of their lightweight and strong abilities. Plastic is lowering the environmental impact of products and packaging, which are much more efficient than glass, paper, or metal. We use less energy, create less waste, and have a lower amount of carbon emissions. Sustainability is also another important factor to consider when it comes to plastic packaging.
Sustainability in Plastics
Eventually, people started realizing the importance that plastic had in sustainability. In 1987, a barge loaded with trash traveled from New York City to Belize. The media raised awareness of this, and the public started to panic about a potential garbage crisis. The number one assumption of the crisis was the growing use of plastics in packaging. The consumption of plastics started to increase with waste ending up in rivers and the ocean we all know and love. There were concerns about the wildlife and the beaches we walk on every day. The question remained is plastic sustainable? Companies started to encourage recycling and the use of plastic recycling bins. The campaign “Plastics Make it Possible” was utilized to help teach Americans the importance of recycling.
Providing Sustainable Change
Nowadays, most Americans know the importance and benefits of plastic packaging. Americans want to see more recycling methods being used, especially with the newer lightweight flexible packaging. The Plastics Division is coming up with new ideas to make plastics lighter, stronger, and more recyclable. We should continue to keep plastic in our economy and out of the environment. Plastics can be reused by a circular economy method, which means to be less wasteful. One way to do this is by continuing to invest in advanced recycling, using chemistry, engineering, and remaking raw materials. By 2040, it’s expected to have all plastic packaging be recycled and ending plastic waste in our environment.
The plastics industry is constantly changing over time. With the help of chemists, engineers, designers, and technicians, we can find more efficient solutions. The organization America’s Change Makers is helping make this possible with their sustainability methods. Using renewable energy, providing safe water, and fighting climate change are all beneficial methods. This goes all the back to the 1800s to now day decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. America’s Plastic Makers is helping solve today’s biggest challenges and providing the world with a better future.
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