Kickstart: It’s gotta be the shoes

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Maybe Spike Lee was right back when he did those early Nike commercials. It’s all about the shoes.

Even if you’re not a runner, chances are you’ve heard about some amazing distance running performances this year. In October, Eliud Kipchoge finished a marathon distance in less then two hours (1 hour, 59 minutes, 40 seconds) in a project backed by chemical company Ineos. That same weekend at the Chicago marathon, Brigid Kosgei took more than a minute off the women’s marathon world record — one not broken for 16 years.

While both are obviously world class runners, whose “easy” pace is faster than an ordinary person’s sprint — observers are also pointing to their shoes as a key to their performance.

Both wore a new shoe developed by Nike with an integrated carbon fiber plate.

The carbon fiber works with the cushion, which is typically made of polyurethane, to provide more of a spring to each step. Nike even markets its Vaporfly as the “4 percent” because it’s supposed to make the runner, on average, 4 percent faster.

It’s part of a movement that has been growing in the shoe industry for a while, a breakthrough in equipment that hadn’t changed much for more than 30 years.

The question is … is that fair?

While Vaporflys are available on the market now, they retail for more than $250 and last for about 100 miles. Which means you need money or a major sponsor, which means the playing field may not be even. Kipchoge’s shoes are still prototypes, not available on the market. Outside magazine has an indepth look at the issue. So does Business Insider which updates the issue to include mentions of how visible the bright pink Vaporflys were at the New York Marathon on Nov. 3.

Could the car guy with his finger on the pulse of the future of the auto industry actually be a plastics guy?

Automotive News, which is a sister publication of Plastics News, has a story on Hinrich Woebcken, the former CEO of Volkswagen Group’s North American operations, who is now deeply involved in businesses at the forefront of digital car shopping. These are internet-connected dealerships that allow you to shop for your best car deal from your pajamas, including comparing financial packages and lease options.

But before becoming part of the auto industry. Woebcken got his start at KraussMaffei, as editor Don Loepp wrote about in 2016 when VW first brought him in to take over a U.S. business tainted by the diesel emission scandal.

This week’s issue of PN brought a story from Bill Bregar’s Best Practices notebook about screw maker Glycon Corp. and its work on making it more efficient to use bioplastics and recycled content to molding.

But as Bill notes in the story, Glycon founder Jeff Kuhman isn’t just talking about promoting a more sustainable life. He also drives a plug-in hybrid car, GM’s Chevy Volt, which is recharged at night via the solar shingles on his house.

Read more about the intersection of sustainability and auxiliary equipment here.

This post appeared first on Plastics News.