In recent years organometallic catalysts, especially metallocenes, have been a major focus of attention in terms of polymerisation chemistry. But the news earlier this year of a family of iron-based catalysts able to rival the effectiveness of both conventional and metallocene catalysts in the polymerisation of ethylene has excited the plastics industry. Because of the impact of this discovery and its potential as a route to lower-priced commodity plastics in the future, it may be useful at this stage to summarise the recent developments and stress once more their importance. George Marsh reports.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(98)80016-3