Defunct (Company)Defunct (Brand)
|Founder(s)||Howard J. Samuels
|Headquarters||Rochester, New York|
|Parent||Textron Corp. (1955-58)
Nat. Dist.Chemical (1958-62)
Mobil Oil Company (1962-95)
Tenneco Inc. (1995-99)
The Kordite Corporation was American poly-synthetic engineering company and manufacturer of plastic products. Founded in 1946 in the town of Macedon, New York by brothers Richard and Howard J. Samuels for $20,000, the company became one of the largest employers in the Northeast industrial corridor of the United States, boasting sales of $200 million in its tenth year in business and was the largest manufacturer of plastics production and household consumer goods in the U.S.
The company is credited with a number of distinctions in industrial and commercial industry including the first chemical engineering company to produce for household consumerism. Among its many contributions to the public consciousness include a μm thin polyethylene film pouch that became the plastic bag, plastic clothespins and hanger, plastic bristled broom, wax paper, freeze-lock bag micowaveable plastic and a no-stretch reinforced wastebasket liner known as the Hefty trash bag.
In 1999, the Pactiv Corporation became the parent company of Kordite. Under Pactiv, Kordite was restructured as a brand in disposal kitchen containers and utensils. As part of its growth platform, executives of Pactiv began to phase out Kordite products and brand from the market in the early 2000's as the company sought to focus only one brand a piece in the commercial and household consumer market. Kordite's influence in the sociocultural identity of American mass production remains and can still be seen today, as the logo for the Hefty brand.
The production of synthetic materials has been a concept for before the start of the industrial revolution. World War I and II would for the development of synthetics into unheralded importance with large indutrial firms such as DuPont and B.F. Goodrich dedicating its operations towards synthetic rubber and other synthetic material to aid allied powers. Yet production of synthetic material was considered a specialty product for select customers.
In 1941 while attending M.I.T., Howard J. Samuels wrote "The Manufacturing and Distribution Problems of a Vinyl Coated Sisal Rope as a Clothesline" as his senior thesis. It called for the introduction of synthetic material into American households via a simple, everyday household item, the clothesline. Its advantage was it wouldn't rot and could be wiped clean for continued use. His solution for the cost associated with synthetic material was simple, yet something that had not been done before, mass production for consumer consumption. 
At the war's conclusion, the Samuels' brothers would return to New York and with a $20,000 loan borrowed from their father against his life insurance, the two rented an abandon school  and formed Kordite. Using Samuels' thesis as the initial business plan, Kordite's first product on the market was the plastic-lined clothesline. The immediate success of the product was followed up with plastic clothes pins. The company would expand its product line and polymer development across multiple fields.
Products & Development
Kordite would be the first to develop polypropylene film. As competitor Hercules Powder Company| increased its production of the film for consumer markets, Kordite introduced a heat seal-able film dubbed "Kordite 1500." It featured 7 times the elasticity of ordinary polypropylene film, was resistant to permeation, had the strength of aluminum, at a time before aluminum foil, with a water vapour transmission less than half of cellophane. As Kordite moved production of the 1500, the film was produced at a fraction of the cost of ordinary polypropylene film and half the cost of cellophane making it the cheapest and most durable polyfilm on the market. 
Much of the R&D set out by Kordite focused on alternative synthesis of poly materials to bring to market at a cost attainable to household consumers. Company researcher Milton Weiner would discover one such method at reaching vinyl chloride through isolation and oxidation. This discovery found the interest of both polymer developers and the oil industry, as it provided a far more economical route at ethane and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Kordite chemist Robert Steiner later developed an acrylic coating for polypropylene film giving Kordite a pioneering foothold in the packaging industry. Prime examples of polyethylene diaper bagterephthalate are the plastic bags for loaf bread, potato chip bags and wrapping now found on cigarette packs.
In 1963, Kordite introduced the "Packer Pak" and began marketing the device with its polyethylene film pouches to grocers claiming a 50% reduction in the cost of produce packaging. The device is now a common fixture in all grocer produce sections as the plastic bag dispenser.  The company followed up that introduction with the sandwich bag known as the baggy and the disposal diaper bag|. 
In the late 1950s, reports of child suffocation began to surface nationwide after coming in contact with plastic garment bags used by dry cleaners. By 1958, suffocation deaths ranged from infants to age 16 and the elderly. And in 1959, over 55 infant suffocation deaths were attributed to plastic bags. That number would continue to climb the following year.
That same year, Kordite launched a million dollar common-sense campaign to perserve safety. Full page advertisements were printed in 117 major newspapers across North America. Kordite also began issuing all grocer and cleaners' plastic bags with warning labels. The increasingly bad press moved Wisconsin Congressman Henry Reuss| to introduce a bill barring interstate| shipment of bags unless large danger signs were printed on the bag.  The Laundry and Dry Cleaners Association agreed to publicly dicontinue the use of plastic bags. Despite the deaths and large backlash, the Assocation reported customers demanded plastic bags by a 50-1 margin.
Plastic bags did not overtake paper bags at grocery stores until Kordite developed a thermoplastic resin film that provided a "static cling" and inclusion of mouths on each bag in the early 1980's. 
In 1990, Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox sued Mobil Oil Corporation and its division Kordite saying the company falsly claimed its bags where degradable. Similar action was followed by the attorney generals of California, New York, Tennessee and Illinois. These, along with a number of other consumer complaints led the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation to find if Kordite and its parent company Mobil Oil Corporation misled consumers about the environmental benefits of its bags. 
At the conclusion of the investigation, Mobil agreed not to make any claims its plastic bags decompose and are better for the environment than other bags. In exchange, the FTC agreed to the investigation and drop all charges. 
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