PLASTICS & SUSTAINABILITY

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Rethinking plastic packaging and recycling

When it comes to food and drink applications, recycled plastic has limited uses. Regulations forbid the use of post-consumer resin (PCR) in food & drink contact, as well as in hygiene and medical applications. However, brand owner Unilever and its partner SABIC have developed a solution and introduced it to some European markets. Their goal: prove that PCR can be transformed for use in food-contact applications safely.

IHS Markit PEPP 2020: COVID-19 reveals complexity of plastic waste issue

"The value proposition for plastic materials has been reemphasized in the consumer base," said Venetia Spencer, secretary general of the Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform (PCEP). "I think that people recognize the value of the product. They recognize the importance of food safety, of the application of plastics in personal protective equipment [PPE] and hygiene and medical applications. At the same time, the issue on end-of-use is still there."

IHS Markit PEPP 2020: Circular solution to plastics waste crisis faces numerous hurdles

Although advances have already been made thanks to technology innovation, investment in infrastructure, and sustainability-focused brands, many challenges remain, largely around aligning regulations, collection, sorting, logistics, conversion, downstream processing, and consumer acceptance to create an economically viable supply chain.

Repsol, Acteco to increase mechanical recycling capacity for polyolefins in Spain

Repsol (Madrid, Spain) and mechanical recycling specialist Acteco say they are partnering on a project to increase the production capacity for recycled polyolefins at Acteco’s existing facility in Alicante, Spain. No investment figure has been given.

Plastic waste: A shared responsibility

CCompanies, international organizations, and people from different sectors and backgrounds should be brought together to give plastic waste new life, transforming it from a burden into a resource, Doug Woodring, founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance tells CW.

Recycling will transform petchems

As much an opportunity as a threat, the trend toward circularity plays directly to the petrochemical industry’s core competency—turning waste into useful materials by chemical transformation. That waste was originally the by-products of petroleum refining, but increasingly it will also be the industry’s own product: plastic, recovered after use.

 

BASIC CHEMICALS

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Brenntag acquires caustic soda distribution business in the US

Brenntag says it has acquired the operating assets of Suffolk Solutions’ (Suffolk, Virginia) caustic soda distribution business. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Shin-Etsu Chemical sets $2.3 billion for capital projectsd

Shin-Etsu Chemical will execute capital projects worth ¥240.0 billion ($2.3 billion) in the fiscal year ending 31 March 2021. In the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and chlor-alkali business, the company has commenced operations at its US ethylene plant. The company is also constructing an integrated chlor-vinyl complex in the US.

Soda ash demand feels the pinch from weak construction, automotive demand

Global soda ash consumption is forecast to drop in 2020 as demand for flat and container glass applications –the most important end-user segments— remains weak. However, demand from other important end-user sectors such as soap & detergents remains stable, and sodium bicarbonate demand is forecast to grow 2% in 2020.

Insulation foam applications drive MDI demand recovery, TDI recovery more subdued

Demand for polyurethane insulation foams (rigid and spray) in the construction industry is driving up demand for MDI in Europe and North America, says James Elliott, associate director /polyurethanes at IHS Markit.

Lower crude prices hurt MTO economics

Lower crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices will put downward pressure on methanol prices into methanol-to-olefin (MTO) and fuel applications, although they will have little impact on methanol production costs, according to Mike Nash, global business director/syngas at IHS Markit. With MTO facilities exclusively located in China, the country's methanol industry will be hardest hit by these market dynamics.

Japan March ethylene output at 21-month low amid turnarounds, run cuts

Japan's ethylene production in March slumped to a 21-month low, dented by steam cracker maintenance and as some operators reduced run rates after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hit petrochemical demand in China in February, leading to lower prices and margins.

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NGL/AGRI/BIO

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Naphtha discount deepens in Asia as arbitrage flows outpace demand

Discounts for Asia naphtha on both a delivered and FOB basis deepened as ample September arbitrage barrels and lower cracker run rates erode earlier strong underlying fundamentals, say market sources.

Cainthus: Most producers will adopt digital livestock tech within three years

Aidan Connolly, CEO of Cainthus spoke to IHS Markit Animal Health editor Joseph Harvey about the future of digital technology in the livestock sector and the impact of COVID-19 on this burgeoning space, ahead of next month's virtual Animal AgTech Innovation Summit.

Ammonia prices at bottom of cycle following massive capacity additions

The price of ammonia is now at the bottom of the cycle, following massive capacity additions in 2016-19 including three large merchant ammonia projects at Freeport, Texas; Kingisepp, Russia; and Luwuk, Indonesia.

Latin America's imports of US NGLs continue to grow

Latin American countries are increasingly dependent on US NGL exports, highlighting the region’s need to invest in infrastructure –import terminals as well as production capabilities. US NGLs exports will continue growing as Latin America’s propane and ethane demand outpaces supply. But as Asia absorbs higher volumes of US NGLs, Latin America’s consumers become more exposed to changes in global trade.

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WPC 2020: Isolationism possible in the battle against global challenges

The world could retreat into increased isolationism as global solutions and organizations struggle in the battle against global challenges and nations face inwards, says Carlos Pascual, senior vice president/global energy & international affairs at IHS Markit, in his speech at WPC 2020 Online. “We are likely to see in the near-future a retreat to isolationism. That isolationism will have an impact throughout international institutions,” Pascual says.

WPC 2020: Climate pressure will force new energy strategies

Global energy markets are on the cusp of change as companies under pressure from diminishing returns, shareholder climate resolutions, and demand destruction is forced to adapt.

WPC 2020: Downcycle with a difference for p-xylene, PTA

The para-xylene (p-xylene) business has changed dramatically in the past year, with almost record-high margins turning sharply negative during the period, particularly in Asia. This has been caused by a slowdown in p-xylene demand growth linked to a weaker downstream polyester industry, and large p-xylene capacity additions in China in 2019, according to Duncan Clark, vice president/aromatics and fibers at IHS Markit.

Standardization: The next step in lowering capital costs?

The standardization of plant design could deliver projects faster, and therefore at a lower cost, says David Gaertner, vice president/global petrochemical business at Schneider Electric. The adoption of standardization could enhance the positive impact modularization, and digital tools are already having on efficiencies and lowering capital costs.

Latin America struggles with slow growth

Several factors are putting a damper on the growth of Latin America’s petrochemical industry in the new decade—slowing economic growth, policy uncertainty, and trade tensions. The region’s economic forecast is mixed, and regional governments have limited options to drive domestic/private demand.

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