Kickstart: Welcome to the VUCA economy

Are you in the forecasting business? Not the weather, but business. (And isn’t everyone from CEOs to entrepreneurs and investors to engineers just doing their best to forecast what the market will need?)

As you well know, the past year has defied expectations, but with a new administration in Washington and vaccines making their way into arms — although slower than anyone wants — Bill Wood has taken his best attempt at anticipating what will happen in 2021. First of all, he has some caveats.

“If [those complexities] sound to you like a VUCA environment — the acronym the military uses to describe the situation on the battlefield — then you are on the right track. This acronym stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous,” Bill, PN’s economics editor, writes.

“I am leaning hard on this acronym as we start 2021, but that does not mean I am advising caution. To the contrary, the current environment requires you to be both bold and smart. And here I emphasize both bold and smart.”

He’s expecting 2-3 percent in growth for the plastics sector in 2021, but warns things could change.

“It is unusually difficult for me at the moment to predict with a great level of detail just how we get the economic data trending in the right direction even with a gigantic infusion of free money from the federal government,” he writes. “But we will do it.”

You can find the full column here.

Vaccines aren’t the only medical program in need of support. United Kingdom-based materials company Ineos has donated 100 million pounds ($136 million) to Oxford University to set up and equip research into antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR is responsible for an estimated 1.5 million excess deaths each year, a number that has been projected to grow to 10 million by the year 2050, our sister paper Sustainable Plastics writes. Called the silent pandemic, AMR is one of the most underreported issues of our time, said David Sweetnam, adviser to the new Ineos Oxford Institute for AMR Research.

The issue is fueled through the overprescription of antibiotics, both to people and animals.

The Ineos Oxford Institute will focus on designing novel antimicrobials just for animals, as well as exploring new human drugs.

A Japanese design studio may have come up with a better soccer ball: one that will never deflate.

Nendo and ball supplier Molten developed a soccer ball kit made using recycled polypropylene and other polymers that can act just like a standard ball once it’s put together.

The ball was inspired by the structure of a traditional Japanese woven bamboo ball, Nendo wrote in a blog post about the project.

“Assembling three types of components for a total of 54 parts results in a soccer ball that, instead of relying on internal air pressure, makes use of the resilience of its surface material,” the company wrote.

If one of those 54 parts breaks, it can be replaced rather than scrapping the entire ball.

Find more about the project, along with a video, here.

This post appeared first on Plastics News.