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As the third quarter of 1998 unfolds, overcapacity still drives steady to declining prices for most plastics. Not until 1999 is demand expected to track with supply and then continue in balance for most of 1999. Bottom line, no significant price increases for the next 12 months. The perspective of history always enlightens us as to the future; herewith a little history: Did you know? l The word Plastics was first used as a noun in 1909, the same year "Bakelite" was initially marketed. l "Neoprene," discovered in 1941 was the first synthetic rubber. Wallace Carouthers of DuPont was its inventor, as well as Nylon which took seven years and 27 million dollars to develop and was first produced in 1938. l The first periodical devoted to the plastics industry was named "Plastics" and its first issue was October 1925. Its issues from 1925-1935 are still available on microfilm from UMI in Ann Arbor, Michigan. l The first credit card burglar was arrested in NYC in June 1926 for forcing a burglar-proof lock with a strip of celluloid. His name: Alfred Lalonde. l In about 1909, "Bakelite," a synthetic resin made of phenol and formaldehyde was used as a binder for a laminate called "Moldarta." This was the predecessor of Micarta - still with us 90 years later! With the word Plastic being 90 years old - and with the oldest plastics, namely, Bakelite & Micarta also around for 90 years and with the 21st century and the new millennium just ahead of us, it seems appropriate to speculate on the state of our industry in 2099. This to be the subject of future columns. But first for some more Millennium Monomers: The Japan Rail Corp. is in the process of developing a process for producing Polyethylene bags from recycled shredded newspapers and magazines. This gives a new meaning to the question "Paper or Plastics?" As we head into the second half of 1998 bringing us closer to the last year of the millennium, it seems appropriate to reflect on how we will obtain information such as is contained in this column. Melvin (Mel) W. Ettenson of Ain Plastics of Michigan, Inc., B.S., Engineering, Lowell Technological Institute; M.B.A., NYU.; Lt. Comman-der, U.S. Navy; Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp., Mktg. Research Director; Uniglass Industries, Regional Sales Manager ; Dayco Corp., Sr. V.P. Cadillac Plastics Division; Member of the Society of Plastics Engineers, and The Society of the Plastics Industry. 810-356-4000.

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