Asia benzene falls on crude rout as US-China trade war escalates Asia benzene falls crude USA China trade war escalates
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s benzene market weakened this week amid sharp falls in crude futures overnight, as global commodities markets were hit hard when the US threatened to impose tariffs on additional $200bn worth of Chinese goods.
Price indications for benzene on Thursday were down by more than $10/tonne from the previous day, on concerns over the escalating trade war between the US and China.
In early July, benzene was trading at above $830/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea, according to ICIS data.
Crude futures slumped at the close of trade on Wednesday, with Brent crude shedding $5.46/bbl to $73.40/bbl, while US crude was down $3.73/bbl at $70.38/bbl.
Concerns about the US-China trade war are expected to dominate the Asian benzene market in the near-term.
In the current escalation of the conflict, market players will remain cautious, resulting in a slowdown in spot trades.
Spot benzene prices had been on an uptrend after touching $800/tonne FOB Korea in the second half of June, backed by a drawdown in inventories.
In the key China market, shore tank inventories declined to 235,500 tonnes for the week ended 6 July, down from 244,200 tonnes two weeks prior, according to ICIS estimates.
“The drawdown in inventories in China over the past two weeks helped lift the market,” said a broker in China.
However, the positive momentum appeared to have fizzled out as players shifted their focus on the escalation in the US-China trade row.
“The trade has turned cautious again given the increased uncertainty due to the trade war,” a Singapore-based trader said.
Benzene is a base chemical used to make other chemicals such as styrene monomer (SM), phenol and caprolactam.
Meanwhile, the benzene demand-supply balance in Asia is expected to turn more positive as the third quarter progressed.
Consumption would rise when a downstream SM plant and an aniline facility in China start up.
Also, with the third-quarter manufacturing-for-exports season in China, consumption of resins and chemicals usually improve.
This would also spur demand for benzene as it is a key feedstock for various downstream chemicals.
Picture: Container port in Qingdao, Shandong Province, east China (Photographer: Yu Fangping/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock)
In an effort to provide a consistent metric to guide the efforts of sustainability for plastics in the Circular Economy, two of the leading global international recycling organizations have developed a global definition governing the use of the term “recyclable” as is relates to plastics packaging and products.International Plastic Recycling Groups Global Definition Plastics Recyclability
In the joint announcement, Ton Emans, President of Plastics Recycling Europe, and Steve Alexander, President and CEO of The Association of Plastic Recyclers, pointed to the onslaught of recent announcements around commitments to package sustainability and recyclability.International Plastic Recycling Groups Global Definition Plastics Recyclability
“The use of the term ‘recyclable’ is consistently used with packages and products without a defined reference point,” commented Alexander. “At the end of the day, recyclability goes beyond just being technically recyclable there must be consumer access to a recycling program, a recycler must be able to process the material, and there must be an end market.”
“Recently, we have seen many announcements regarding legislative measures on plastics products and pledges of the industry actors committing to making their products recyclable,” added Emans.
“As recyclers, we are a fundamental part of the solution to the issue of sustainability of plastics, and we need for the appropriate audiences to understand what is necessary to label a product or package ‘recyclable’. We welcome these commitments and encourage others to follow. Nevertheless, clear and universally endorsed definitions and objectives are needed.”
Plastics must meet four conditions for a product to be considered recyclable:
The product must be made with a plastic that is collected for recycling, has market value and/or is supported by a legislatively mandated program.
The product must be sorted and aggregated into defined streams for recycling processes.International Plastic Recycling Groups Global Definition Plastics Recyclability
The product can be processed and reclaimed/recycled with commercial recycling processes.International Plastic Recycling Groups Global Definition Plastics Recyclability
The recycled plastic becomes a raw material that is used in the production of new products.International Plastic Recycling Groups Global Definition Plastics Recyclability
Innovative materials must demonstrate that they can be collected and sorted in sufficient quantities, must be compatible with existing industrial recycling processes or will have to be available in sufficient quantities to justify operating new recycling processes.
Although the definition is to be applied on a global scale, both groups understand the complexity of a global system of plastics recycling, and welcome comments from the plastics recycling industry and relevant stakeholders. Today, this definition has been supported by PETCORE Europe (http://www.petcore-europe.org). A Global Definition of Recyclability is an integral step to harmonize the worldwide plastics recycling industry.
PepsiCo CEO meets CM, extends support to recycling of PET plastic waste PepsiCo Gem Enviro recycling PET plastic bottles waste
Source: The Hitavada
PepsiCo India to enable collection and recycling infrastructure, partners with Gem Enviro to set up reverse vending machines, collection centres and recycling for PET plastic bottles in Maharashtra
Ahmed L Sheikh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of PepsiCo India, met Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister, at Vidhan Bhavan here on Wednesday. Sheikh expressed PepsiCo India’s intent to support plastic ban in the State and implementation of extended producer responsibility for PET plastic waste bottles in Maharashtra.
PepsiCo India delegation led by Sheikh informed the Chief Minister that the company had partnered with Gem Enviro to set up reverse vending machines, collection centres and recycling for PET plastic bottles in Maharashtra.PepsiCo Gem Enviro recycling PET plastic bottles waste
The company pledged to collect and recycle all PET plastic bottles generated through PepsiCo’s beverages. “In addition, through the Indian Beverage Association (IBA), we are also setting up a consortium for industry players to come together and work towards enhancing the plastic waste management infrastructure in the State,” stated a press release issued by PepsiCo India.PepsiCo Gem Enviro recycling PET plastic bottles waste
Sheikh reportedly informed the Chief Minister that the company planned to design all packaging to be recoverable or recyclable by the year 2025 and that it was working on new technologies for sustainable packaging solutions.
“We will be piloting the first ever 100 per cent compostable, plant-based packaging for our popular snacks products Lay’s and Kurkure this year, and have re-sized packaging of these snacks to reduce paper consumption in the value chain,” Sheikh said. Also, he said, the company treated use of non-returnable glass in beverage business as an ‘opportunity for on-the-go consumption’.PepsiCo Gem Enviro recycling PET plastic bottles waste
He also informed Fadnavis about various other initiatives of the company. Sheikh also discussed matters related to increasing investment in India and Maharashtra and ‘various other issues’, stated an official press release issued by the Directorate of Information and Public Relations, Maharashtra. Sheikh informed Fadnavis about PepsiCo’s current project in the context of expanding business in the country and Maharashtra. Similarly, their discussion focussed around increasing investment in Maharashtra, it was stated in the release.
A Tetra Pak package has a thin layer of polymer, or plastic, to prevent moisture getting in or out and to keep contents fresh Tetra Pak package thin layer polymer plastic prevent moisture
A Tetra Pak package has a thin layer of polymer, or plastic, to prevent moisture getting in or out and to keep contents fresh. It is also in our caps, closures and straws. Our long-term ambition is for all our chilled and ambient packages to be made from renewable alternatives to oil-based plastics.
In 2011, we launched the industry’s first caps made from bio-based polymers. Derived from Brazilian sugar cane ethanol, they look exactly the same as conventional caps but have a significantly lower carbon footprint. Where bio-based caps are available, customers can easily switch without additional investment or modifications to filling machines. Recyclability is not impacted, as the new materials are processed together with conventional polymers without restrictions. We can now offer bio-based caps for all advanced packaging formats.
By 2014, we had created the world’s first fully renewable package for liquid food, the Tetra Rex® Bio-Based, made with bio-based cap, neck and film. By the end of 2016, we had delivered over 100 million of these renewable packages to meet customer demand. In the same year, we also launched the Tetra Brik® Aseptic 1000 Edge with Bio-based LightCap™ 30. It is the first aseptic package to have a film and cap made from sugar cane-based plastic. Combined with the paperboard, this lifts the share of materials from renewable sources in the package to above 80 percent, the threshold for four-star certification from Vinçotte.
‘OK Biobased’ certification
As environmental awareness among consumers increases, independent verification of the renewability of raw materials is increasingly important. The ‘OK Biobased’ certification shows consumers how renewable a product really is. The scheme, run by Vinçotte, uses rigorous scientific processes and methodologies to rate the percentage of bio-based raw materials, with four stars showing over 80 percent is from bio-based materials.
Challenges and opportunities
Despite considerable progress, bio-based polymers are still only in a small fraction of our cartons and a niche product for the plastics industry. Our commitment remains to expand their use to cover more of our packages, across all sizes. The challenge becomes increasingly complex when considering the social cost of alternative raw material sources (e.g. local food availability and working conditions) attached to bio-based polymers.
We are working with a number of our stakeholder partners to explore these issues, while also continuing to assess alternatives like other plant-based materials, organic waste and algae. For example, we have formed an agreement with Braskem, the largest thermoplastic resin producer in the Americas and are now using low-density polyethylene derived from sugar cane for coatings in all our packages produced in Brazil. A Code of Conduct including social and environmental criteria guides Braskem’s sourcing and is part of our agreement.
Specialty films manufacturer Infiana installs nine-layer extruder Specialty films manufacturer Infiana nine layer extruder
By: PlasticsToday Staff
Extrusion: Film & Sheet
Developer and extruder of specialty films Infiana (Forchheim, Germany, and Malvern, PA) has installed a nine-layer extruder with integrated in-line stretching capabilities at its German plant and has expanded production facilities to accommodate the new equipment. The addition is part of a multi-million euro investment package the company has undertaken.
The nine-layer extruder will increase the company’s flexibility in manufacturing films of varying thicknesses and widths, said Herbert Bader, VP Innovation. “Much of our current research and development work also focuses on barrier and mechanical properties.
This combination plays a central functional role in many of our growth markets,” said Bader, adding that the company now has the ability to translate these developments into “market-ready, forward-facing and innovative products with unique characteristics.”
It took Infiana 17 months to set up the equipment from initial planning to the first production run. During that time, it prepared a new hall for the extruder and created the associated production infrastructure.Specialty films manufacturer Infiana nine layer extruder
“In expanding our production facilities, we are reacting to increased capacity demand and will be capable of manufacturing more complex products with greater efficiency,“ said Stefan Herfurth, Chief Operating Officer.Specialty films manufacturer Infiana nine layer extruder
The Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo is part of North America’s largest industry event, bringing a comprehensive showcase of electric & hybrid manufacturing, advanced battery, and critical power technologies onto one show floor.
As part of its investment program, the specialty films manufacturer has also enhanced its printing and coating technology capabilities and added an automatic slitter that uses robotics technology to achieve narrower slitting widths.
The Infiana Group employs approximately 800 people at its sites in Germany and the United States.Specialty films manufacturer Infiana nine layer extruder
It serves the personal care, healthcare, building & construction, composites and pressure sensitive markets.
UK would abide by ECHA rules, pay fees for post-Brexit access UK ECHA rules pay fees Brexit access
LONDON (ICIS)–The UK would abide by the rules of the EU regulator the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) post-Brexit and contribute to maintenance costs of the organisation if the regulatory environment for chemicals players can be maintained, the country’s government said on Thursday.
In its latest position paper proposing the terms of its post-divorce relationship with the EU, the government stated that it wishes for UK chemicals players to remain directly under the auspices of ECHA and the Reach regulatory system.UK ECHA rules pay fees Brexit access
Under its own guidance, ECHA has stated that the UK will count as a third country from the slated March 2019 withdrawal date unless a new agreement is brokered.
This potentially leaves UK companies scrambling to establish European offices or to find representatives on the continent to handle their Reach registrations, like any global organisation selling material into the EU.UK ECHA rules pay fees Brexit access
The UK chemicals sector is among the sectors with the least to gain from potential regulatory reform post-Brexit, due to the complexity of EU legislation and the prominence of the union as a market for producers, according to the country’s Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
The industry has pressed the case increasingly forcefully to ministers, leading to UK Prime Minister Theresa May mentioning ECHA in a speech as an example where close post-Brexit alignment would be necessary.UK ECHA rules pay fees Brexit access
The UK is seeking similar continued arrangements with the European pharmaceutical and aviation agencies.UK ECHA rules pay fees Brexit access
“In some manufactured goods sectors where more complex products have the potential to pose a higher risk to consumers, patients or environmental safety, a greater level of regulatory control is applied,” the UK government said in the white paper.
“In line with the UK’s objective of ensuring that products only go through one approval mechanism to access both markets, the UK is seeking participation in [chemical, medical and aviation] EU agencies, as an active participant, albeit without voting rights, which would involve making an appropriate financial contribution.”
Little restructuring has taken place at ECHA in anticipation of a UK breakaway, according to agency director Bjorn Hansen, aside from war game scenarios of a hard Brexit, where the UK would likely shift to World Trade Organization (WTO) trade rules with the EU.
“[This would mean] being ready to cut the secure line to the UK authorities so they can’t access the databases, can’t be involved in any of our decision-making procedures, are no longer invited to our meetings and can no longer contribute scientifically,” he told ICIS in June.
ECHA head of unit for dossiers and submissions Mercedes Vinas added this week that little detail has been provided by the UK on how associate membership would work.
The UK government has long banked on a solution being found allowing it to maintain a frictionless border with the EU post-Brexit, with little new infrastructure installed at ports in anticipation of more stringent checks on goods entering the country, as the Brexit deadline creeps closer.UK ECHA rules pay fees Brexit access
In its latest white paper, the government stressed that it is also in the EU’s interest to maintain frictionless trade in goods through maintaining regulatory alignment on “only those rules necessary” to facilitate that.UK ECHA rules pay fees Brexit access
The move would position the UK as a rule-taker from the EU on trade in goods, and would encompass rules on border checks, requirements on placing products in the market, along with future compliance on environmental and energy consumptions standards agreed in Brussels.
“The UK believes that manufacturers should only need to undergo one series of tests in either market, in order to place products in both markets,” the UK government said.
Less alignment has been proposed on services, in a bid to safeguard London’s position as the financial hub of Europe, with the UK proposing a new economic and regulatory system on financial services, and mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
While market analysts remain sceptical of the feasibility of the UK’s proposals on services, even the more conciliatory trade in goods proposals present problems, according to European Commission officials.
Regulatory alignment on trade could be complicated by any new trade deals that the UK may strike globally, according to Jochen Muller, acting assistant director for the Commission’s representation in Spain.
“The UK wants to make good FTAs with other countries. In five or 10 years, if the UK signs an FTA with the US and accepts that country’s agricultural products, which would include transgenics [genetically modified organisms, GMOs] which are not used in the EU, what will happen?,” he said, speaking at a Brexit conference in Madrid, Spain, this week.
Pictured: ECHA’s headquarters in Helsinki Source: ECHA