By now, we are all familiar with the controversy and challenges surrounding the usage of hydrocarbon-based plastics, which have fallen from wonder materials to world-polluting menaces in the span of 100 years. One particular plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), has borne the brunt of this global scrutiny. Here, Ben Smye, head of growth at Matmatch, the leading platform for researching and sourcing sustainable materials, explains why there is still a place for PET in the modern world.
It may seem unusual, but one of the best snapshots of modern society’s changing relationship with plastics can be seen in the fashion shows of New York. Several models graced the catwalk with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) bottles of Evian water in the 1980s, silently endorsing single-use plastics to onlookers.
Levying a 20-cent-per-pound excise tax on virgin plastics will neither solve nor begin to address the plastic waste issue, according to the American Chemistry Council.
Would an excise tax on virgin plastics used to manufacture single-use products achieve the stated goal of incentivizing the market to source more recycled plastic and reduce the amount of plastic waste? Perhaps to a limited extent, but it comes at a considerable cost. Petrochemicals and Polymers
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who sits on the Senate Finance and Environment and Public Works committees, has introduced legislation that ultimately would impose a 20-cent-per-pound fee on virgin plastics. Under his proposal, manufacturers, producers, and importers of virgin plastic resins would pay a tax of 10 cents per pound in 2022, with incremental increases reaching 20 cents per pound in 2024. “This fee would apply to virgin plastic used to make single-use products, including plastic packaging, beverage containers, bags, and food service products. Exported virgin plastic resin and post-consumer recycled resin would be exempt,” said a statement on Whitehouse’s website. Other exemptions, mostly in the form of rebates, include medical products, containers or packaging for medicines, personal hygiene products, any packaging used for the shipment of hazardous materials, and virgin plastic used to make non-single-use products.
The revenue generated by the excise tax would go into what Whitehouse calls a Plastic Waste Reduction Fund. That money would fund a number of projects designed to reduce plastic waste and promote recycling.
The decline in China PTA market slowed down in Sep, with prices of spots hovering at around 4,800yuan/mt. However, PTA futures slumped on Sep 8, and spot market moved down in tandem with spot price down to 4,710yuan/mt, hitting new low in two and a half month. Petrochemicals and Polymers
PTA margin was squeezed with price dropping. As of Sep 9, the spread of PTA to PX narrowed to around only 400yuan/mt. Considering the cost of acetic acid, the spread was further lower at around 195yuan/mt.
Currently, polyester plant operating rate hovered low and the sales ratio was bleak with participants in the lack of confidence. Scheduled maintenance on PTA plants is limited in Sep, while Yisheng New Materials’ fresh 3.6 million mt/yr PTA units have been running stably. PTA inventory is expected to rise by about 300kt in Sep, bringing pressure on PTA market.
Taghleef Industries has installed a custom Davis-Standard liquid coating line at its facility in Terre Haute, Indiana, US, to support new markets in coated OPP films.
Taghleef specialises in high-performance films for packaging, labels, industrial, and graphic arts applications. The Davis-Standard line enables added value and enhanced performance to OPP films to support customers throughout North America and beyond. Petrochemicals and Polymers
Craig Ligda, Taghleef’s Director of Operations, North America, said: “Davis-Standard collaborated with us to build a highly customised liquid coating line, making it possible to achieve unique film attributes and proprietary coating methods for new applications. We have improved film printability while validating differential coating methods that are essential to our customers.”
Critical to the success of the line’s engineering and design was the collaborative efforts that took place at Davis-Standard’s Technical Center in Fulton, New York. Taghleef ran trials on Davis-Standard’s pilot line to prove and test equipment technology prior to purchase.
Korea’s SK Global Chemical has changed its name to SK Geo Centric with effect from Sep. 1 as it adopts a strategy centered on recycling and eco-friendly materials, according to CHEManager.
“The plastic waste problem could turn into an opportunity. We will grow into the world’s largest urban oilfield company that converts plastic waste back into oil,” said SK Geo Centric CEO Na Kyung-soo.
The company’s primary goal is to establish facilities to process 900,000 t/y of plastic waste, which is equal to its annual domestic plastic production, by 2025, ramping up to 2.5 million t/y by 2027. It plans to invest about 5 trillion Korean won by 2025, both in South Korea and internationally, which will also include expanding capacity for green materials. Petrochemicals and Polymers
In addition, the Seoul-based group proposes to recycle 2.5 million t/y of plastic waste. It has signed Memoranda of Understanding with undisclosed domestic and international partners while it develops its own pyrolysis post-processing technology. Based on collaborations with overseas partners that own chemical recycling technologies such as solvent extraction, depolymerization and pyrolysis, SK Geo Centric intends to invest in plants both within and outside South Korea.
SEKISUI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. (President: Keita Kato; hereinafter “SEKISUI CHEMICAL”) is promoting the SEKISUI CHEMICAL Group’s vision statement, “Innovation for the Earth: In order to realize sustainable society, we support the basis of LIFE and will continue to create ‘peace of mind for the future,’” which is incorporated in “Vision 2030,” the Group’s long-term vision looking ahead to fiscal 2030, and is focusing on into ESG management with the aim of improving the sustainability of society and achieving profitable growth for the Group. With regards to environmental issues, which are key ESG management issues, SEKISUI CHEMICAL formulated a resource recycling policy and related strategies to the policy that contribute to the resolution of climate change issues. SEKISUI CHEMICAL is aiming to realize a circular economy in 2050. In addition, we are promoting “SEKISUI Environmental Sustainability Plan: Accelerate II,” an Environmental Medium-Term Plan which contains targets the company aims to achieve in fiscal 2022. We look to create “peace of mind for the future” through the steady execution of these initiatives going forward. Petrochemicals and Polymers
１．Establishing a Resource Recycling Policy and Strategies
Solutions need to be deployed over the long term to solve issues pertaining to resource recycling. SEKISUI CHEMICAL established a resource recycling policy to “realize a circular economy” in 2050. Moreover, back-casting from long-term targets, we established strategies and a roadmap based on this policy.
As a manufacturer, SEKISUI CHEMICAL believes it is crucial to promote resource recycling along the product lifecycle. In collaboration with our supply chain, we aim to minimize the use of virgin raw materials derived from fossil fuels, promote recycling of resources through material circulation, and aim for a circular economy through our business.
The Group policy consists of the following three points.
New uses such as in motorway barriers and railway sleepers could be part of the solution
Many plastics are used once but last for decades, and more. However, entrepreneur Billy Costello is now developing a series of products that could see today’s casually discarded waste finding a new use that could last 100 years.
Costello, who owns Green Generation in Co Kildare, has developed a patented reprocessing technique, perfected with polymer experts, with the input of sister company Paltec, based in Loughgeorge, Co Galway. Petrochemicals and Polymers
Using it, plastic waste can be turned into barriers to be used to divide motorways and dual carriageways, and could also replace existing steel-cable crash barriers, which can result in serious injuries for motorcyclists, he says.
And they are cheaper than cement versions, costing €400,000 a kilometre less, by his calculation – with a much lower carbon footprint. The barriers are currently undergoing CE standard tests in Italy and showing remarkable durability, he adds.
China’s chemical fiber industry recorded a surge in its profit in the first seven months of 2021, according to official data. Petrochemicals and Polymers
From January to July, the total profit of major chemical fiber companies in China was 38.24 billion yuan (about 5.92 billion U.S. dollars), up 384.5 percent year on year, data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed.
The combined operating revenue of these companies increased by 36.6 percent from a year earlier to 568.9 billion yuan, according to data.
Klöckner Pentaplast (kp), a global leader in high barrier protective packaging solutions, announced its greenhouse gas emissions-reduction target has been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
Through its “Investing in Better” sustainability strategy, kp commits to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 50% by 2025 and absolute scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services, processing of sold products, and end of life treatment of sold products 20.4% per tonne of raw materials by the end of 2029 from a 2019 base year. Petrochemicals and Polymers
“We understand our responsibility to take a science-based approach to combating climate change. That’s why we are focused on reducing our emissions and championing a circular economy that incorporates plastic waste as a valuable raw material.” said Scott Tracey, kp CEO. “Our efforts are already beginning to show results, with a 14% year-on-year reduction in operational CO2 emissions and the incorporation of more than 120,000 tonnes of rPET into our products.”
Methane made from CO2 and renewable hydrogen offers a new path toward cheaper carbon capture Petrochemicals and Polymers
In their ongoing effort to make carbon capture more affordable, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a method to convert captured carbon dioxide (CO2) into methane, the primary component of natural gas.
By streamlining a longstanding process in which CO2 is converted to methane, the researchers’ new method reduces the materials needed to run the reaction, the energy needed to fuel it and, ultimately, the selling price of the gas.
A key chemical player known as EEMPA makes the process possible. EEMPA is a PNNL-developed solvent that snatches CO2 from power plant flue gas, binding the greenhouse gas so it can be converted into useful chemicals.