EU-car-market – Petrochemicals 10-10-2022

EU-car-market – Petrochemicals

Nylon6-Chips – Petrochemicals

EU-car-market - Petrochemicals

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-ACEA revises down forecast to 1% decline year-on-year to 9.6 million units

-Dow on the need for a careful approach to bio-based plastics to drive circularity  

Chemicals and materials giant Dow has said it is exploring how bio-based plastics can be used in a way that doesn’t compete with other sector’s needs for bio-based feedstocks, noting that circularity and recyclability are the main focus for its plastics production.

Dow is the second-largest global polyethylene (PE) producer, with a capacity of almost 10 million mt/year, as noted by Platts petrochemical analytics. The company’s productions and solutions are integrated across an array of sectors, including food packaging, furniture, crops and more.

Plastics remain a contentious issue on the sustainability spectrum. The material has been demonised, in large due to a lack of collection and a focus on single-use production that in turn has plagued the oceans. However, plastics, when used correctly, do serve a valuable purpose in the transportation and protection of goods amongst other key services.

Dow, like many major producers and users of plastics has introduced ambitious targets to try and improve the circularity of this material. Dow intends to enable one million metric tons of plastic to be collected, reused or recycled through its direct actions and partnerships by 2030.

The company also aims to close the loop by enabling 100% of Dow products sold into packaging applications to be reusable or recyclable by 2035.

How a business chooses to go about its phase-out of single-use, virgin and fossil-based plastics varies widely. Some are turning to alternative materials like metals, paper and bioplastics, while others are turning to reuse models and incorporating recycled plastics into new packaging and products.

For Dow’s packaging EMEA marketing director Romain Cazenave, the company is willing to be “selective” on how it phases out fossil-derived plastics, but is adamant that circularity has to be the main priority is Dow is to reach its sustainability and carbon goals

“Plastics can still provide a service, but it comes down to which function you want to achieve,” Cazenave tells edie. “We want to provide the right service with a much lower carbon and material intensity. We are totally willing to be selective, and we look at the lifecycle analysis to see where plastics can be an efficient material.

“For me, there is room for growth in the usage of plastics because of its efficiency, but this is provided we become more circular and reduce the carbon intensity of our products. We need to be clear that whatever material reaches its end of life, it finds the right treatment, which is why circularity and recycling is the main focus.”

Bio-based approach

Big brands and retailers often criticised for their plastic packaging use are on course to reduce their virgin plastic use by one-fifth by 2025, according to a major report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

According to the report, the virgin plastic use of all participating businesses peaked last year. In 2025, the cohort will use 20% less virgin plastic than in 2018, provided that they deliver on their commitments.

While Commitment signatories are on track to avoid the production of eight million tonnes of virgin, fossil-based plastics by 2025, the Foundation is urging brands to go further on using less plastics altogether. Recycled plastic is not automatically recyclable and, moreover, plastic cannot be recycled infinitely using technologies that exist at scale today.

A particular concern is now expressed about the lack of at-scale uptake of reuse and refill models. Only 5% of the brands participating are currently using refill or return models in some capacity. In comparison, 39% of signatories reported that they are substituting virgin plastic for recycled plastic in some cases, with that proportion rising to 41% for substitution with paper-based alternatives.

Dow, like many other firms, does incorporate bio-based feedstocks into its materials production. The company measures how much bio-based feedstock goes into its supply so it can measure how much can be sold as bio-based, through a term called a “mass balance approach”.

Indeed, the company notes that it is “poised to increase the percentage of bio-based feedstock going into our production lines”.

Most bioplastics produced globally come from carbohydrate-rich plants, such as corn or sugar cane, while second-generation bioplastics are produced from feedstock that doesn’t clash with food production, such as wood cellulose and short-rotation crops and waste materials like food waste and sawdust.

Dow’s sustainability policy and advocacy strategy director Carolina Gregorio claims that the company will produce bio-based plastics, but will not compete with other markets such as food production. One of the main challenges facing organisations turning to nature as a feedstock, either as products or fuel, is that the planet does simply not have enough land to account for production, food growth and – increasingly – carbon offsetting. Indeed, Oxfam estimates the land needed for current carbon removal plans issued by businesses could be five times the size of India, which is more than all of the farmland on Earth.

“We see that bio-based feedstocks will play a role, but with some clarification on what role they should play,” Gregorio says. “We want to utilise only biomass feedstocks that are coming from waste or by-products of other industries. We’re not going to compete with the food industry, it’s one of the conditions we’re defining when we say we want sustainable sources of biomass.

“This approach, whereby we preferentially use by-products for bioplastics will ensure that the carbon associated with those materials can be locked into the cycle as a material, rather than burnt as fuel. So we’re looking at bioplastics from the perspective of making the carbon more locked in and circular and ensuring they’re coming from those waste markets.”

Currently, the land use for bioplastics is only around 0.7 million hectares, equitable to 0.015% of global land area, and is set to increase to 0.020% of global land area in 2025. However, as land becomes more degraded and the demand for bio-materials continues to grow, businesses need to consider these wider implications, and the rising costs that will be incurred as demand shoots up.

Dow also reiterates that circularity is key, keeping products and therefore carbon in the loop for longer. While many businesses are exploring biodegradable or even the much more controversial oxo-degradable plastics, Cazenave notes that Dow does not want to generate any unintended consequences with its products.

Many bioplastics are biodegradable by nature, but usually only under high-temperature, industrial composting facilities. As a result, bioplastics can often end up in landfills, where greenhouse gas emissions are released upon breakdown.

Additionally, bioplastics and contaminate collected and recycled plastics, meaning that entire collections of plastics could be rejected from collection and sorting streams and end up in landfill.

“Biodegradable should be only used when the value chain needs it,” Cazenave says. “There is science and perception that it could be perceived as a good idea, but the application needs to be right. It’s not suitable for things like crisp packets, and it is not collected correctly then biodegradable becomes a nightmare, and impacts the quality of the system.

 

“It needs to be managed well and separated from other waste streams. The system needs to clearly identify the solutions for the consumer. Humans are not the perfect sorting machines, but biodegradable cannot end up in nature or other waste streams because the conditions won’t be right and the material will just fragment into microplastics. That is something we don’t want.”

Legislative engagement

Legislation will help with this and Gregorio notes that Dow has engaged with the EU on the revised Waste Framework Directive, which will allow biodegradable and compostable packaging to be collected together and used for anaerobic digestion. This is set to become mandatory throughout Europe by 2023.

Indeed, Dow continues to engage with policymakers on a global level to help with the transition to circular materials.

Gregorio claims that Dow welcomed the UN’s Plastic Treaty, likened as a Paris Agreement for plastics, which was introduced earlier this year. Nations agreed on a text which covers the full lifecycle of plastic, from production to waste management. It also covers plastics of all types and sizes, from large pieces of abandoned fishing gear, to nurdles and microplastics.

However, The American Chemistry Council industry group, which represents more than 190 member businesses including Dow, reportedly pushed back against the inclusion of measures to reduce plastic production globally.

Nonetheless, Gregorio welcomes the chance that the Treaty brings to work with different stakeholders to help improve the circularity of production.

“We immediately welcomed the resolution because of how it can globally drive the change that the plastics industry needs,” she adds. “We are going into our net-zero roadmap, so this is a tremendous opportunity. We like that in the discussions there are a lot of NGOs engaged with industry and governments and we feel this will be good to advance some harmonised measures across the board, especially in developing countries which are lacking waste infrastructure.

“It cannot be the case that waste is not managed, so if we can help improve the collection and sorting methods through a global movement, then this is good. So out first step is to make our products more recyclable and the second step is to work with industry to help improve waste collection to enable our circular transformation.”

While the need for recyclability alongside a dramatic uptake in reusables continues, Dow is moving ahead with short-term measures to drive circularity.

Dow recently announced a new collaboration with Mura, for example, on a new advanced recycling processes site in Germany. These new processes are expected to save approximately 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per ton of plastic recycled, compared to incineration and reducing reliance on fossil-based feedstock, namely by reducing the amount of fossil-based feedstocks being used at facilities.

The Böhlen facility in Germany is expected to be operational by 2025 and when combined with other planned units would collectively add as much as 600KTA of advanced recycling capacity by 2030 for Dow globally.

The company believes that net-zero cannot be achieved without the circular economy and a big part of its decarbonisation plans relies on transitioning to both circular products and feedstocks.

The company’s Packaging and specialty sustainability director Peter Sandkuehler summarises the firm’s approach to driving circularity, noting that they’re “open to any solutions”.

“The Mura announcement is our first stepping stone,” he says. “But we have other partnerships in the pipeline which we aren’t ready to talk publicly about yet which will help take our circular goals to scale.

EU-car-market - Petrochemicals

-Borealis and value chain partners develop more sustainable flexible packaging formats containing 50% post-consumer recyclate

Application development with partners Plastotecnica and ACMI results in fully recyclable multilayer collation shrink film with appealing optics and pack stability

Co-operation with Rani Plast produces fully recyclable tissue packaging boasting excellent processability, printability and packaging line performance

EverMinds™ in action: leveraging packaging and mechanical recycling expertise to lower the carbon footprint of flexible packaging

Borealis announces that two separate collaborations with long-standing value chain partners have resulted in new, fully recyclable flexible packaging formats, which incorporate 50% post-consumer recyclate (PCR). The use of new low density polyethylene (LDPE) PCR grades developed and produced by mechanical recycling expert Ecoplast, a member of the Borealis Group, have made it possible to achieve a 35% carbon footprint reduction in raw material production when compared to virgin polyolefins, whilst maintaining the same film thickness as with virgin materials. Co-operation in the spirit of  is accelerating plastics circularity by fulfilling industry demand for sustainable flexible packaging solutions with lower environmental impact.

Borealis, Plastotecnica, and ACMI jointly develop collation shrink film with 50% PCR content

Plastotecnica, a major European producer of polyethylene (PE) packaging; and ACMI SpA, a leading Italian manufacturer of high-tech and flexible bottling and packaging lines and machines, worked together with Borealis to incorporate more PCR material into the multilayer shrink wrap of a beverage multipack. In developing the application, the partners were able to identify the ideal material solution to achieve optimal mechanical and packaging performance (particularly pack stability) whilst obtaining outstanding film optics and printability: the soon-to-be-launched LDPE PCR grade Ecoplast CWT 100VL with very low gel content; BorShape™ FX1003, a mechanical booster based on the proprietary Borstar® technology; and Anteo™ FK2715, a key ingredient for ensuring higher performance and more sustainable multilayer applications. The result is a fully recyclable film containing 50% PCR and a 35% lower carbon footprint in the raw material production process. The shrink film packaging trials were conducted by ACMI.

“Working together with Borealis and ACMI enables us to come nearer to achieving our own objectives with regard to both sustainability and technological innovation,” says Valentina Betto, R&D and Sustainability manager at Plastotecnica. “We have been able to make real progress towards reaching specific goals. These include offering our customers solutions containing high levels of recycled material, exploiting downgauging potential to reduce film thickness, optimising processing parameters and performance, and minimising waste wherever possible.”

Borealis and Rani Plast develop new tissue packaging incorporating 50% PCR content

As a member of the Rani Group, a leading Nordic producer of smart packaging solutions, Rani Plast used its film and production expertise to work together with polymers experts at Borealis to develop a film structure for more sustainable flexible packaging used for tissue paper products such as kitchen roll (paper towels) and toilet paper. As an improved version of its predecessor NAV 101, the soon-to-be-launched Borealis LDPE PCR grade NAV 101L is best in class when it comes to balancing gel performance and circularity. Manufactured using household post-consumer and commercial waste, its gel content is significantly lower in order to provide excellent processability. It also offers excellent printability and optics. Combined with the Borstar® technology-based mechanical booster BorShape™ FX1003, the grade delivers optimal mechanical performance, thus enabling the incorporation of more than 50% PCR content without increasing film thickness. Finally, Anteo FK2715 provides enhanced sealing, good optics and reinforced stiffness performance.

“As a fellow participant in the Finnish R&D initiative SPIRIT – Sustainable Plastics Industry Transformation – we are glad to deepen our co-operation with Borealis in the area of flexible packaging,” says Mats Albäck, Sustainability and Development Director at Rani Plast. “This successful project is proof that we as an industry can do more with less when we take joint action: improved material performance and greater sustainability, but with reduced consumption of natural resources and energy.”

“It’s gratifying to see the accumulation of sustainability success stories originating within the EverMinds platform for accelerating plastics circularity,” says Peter Voortmans, Borealis Global Commercial Director Consumer Products. “Mechanical recycling plays a crucial role in our integrated circular cascade approach.

Borealis and value chain partners develop more sustainable flexible packaging formats containing 50% post-consumer recyclate

-To enhance circularity: Arkema joins Spanish consortium

Arkema, together with a consortium of companies, is exploring and advancing the recyclability of post-consumer PET (from bottles and other plastic items) to regain monomers for reuse as raw materials for more sustainable polyester powder resins for the coating market.

According to the company, Arkema is a world leader in the offering for powder coatings, as part of the company’s low Volatile Organic Compounds technologies for the coating industry, together with waterborne, UV/LED/EB and high solid systems.

Powder coatings are very well positioned to further sustainability across many very demanding household and industrial applications, including home appliances and furniture, automobiles, sports stadiums and more. The coating process is optimised to produce a high quality finish while using the minimal energy, minimum waste and time. Additionally, powder that doesn’t end up on the product can be more easily collected and recycled, or even reused.

The new project, entitled Suschempol, is led by the Spanish Superior Council of Science Research (CSIC) and was founded by the Spanish “Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación” and the “Agencia Estatal de Investigación” as part of “NextGenerationEU” Initiative.

“Natural fit for Arkema”

“This project was a natural fit for Arkema,” Neil Tariq, Global Business Director for Coating Resins at Arkema, explained. “As a leading provider of polyester resin for the solvent free powder coating technology, we are constantly exploring new path, partnerships and scientific research that advance the circularity of our products.

To enhance circularity: Arkema joins Spanish consortium

-EPCA ’22: Europe chemicals orders size shrinks as price concerns grow – Brenntag exec

Customers in Europe are placing smaller chemicals orders as they try to navigate a more uncertain outlook for prices, an executive at Germany’s chemicals distributor Brenntag said this week.

 

David O’Connell, vice president for product management and sourcing for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) at Brenntag, added that while demand from sectors such food or pharmaceuticals remains good, the outlook for coatings or construction has deteriorated in past months.

“We are clearly mindful of the fact that there are a lot of clouds on the horizon regarding demand,” he said.

Supply chain issues, which caused global freight costs to rocket in 2021 and the first part of 2022, are normalising, the executive added, with more imports from Asia to Europe taking place, which is putting pressure on European chemicals prices as lower priced product enters the region.

O’Connell added that Brenntag is maintaining its earnings forecast for 2022 unchanged, however, as the company’s wide range of customers allows it to partially offset lower demand in some sectors with those where demand remains healthy.

O’Connell spoke to ICIS on the sidelines of the European Petrochemicals Association (EPCA) annual meeting.

Uncertainty leads to smaller orders

“One pattern that we see is that order sizes are smaller, so we are doing more orders, that’s a feature of our business right now. Customers are concerned about the price outlook and about what prices are going up or down,” said O’Connell.

“On the other hand, for the prices that are going up, there is a big cash component, which means using a lot of working capital. For products for which prices are falling due to low demand, customers will wait to see what happens to pricing to go forward.”

However, O’Connell said Brenntag’s demand continues to be healthy overall; conditions in the Americas remain good, he said, although the company’s domestic market in Europe is showing signs of a clear slowdown as energy prices and geopolitical uncertainty bite.

He added that in Europe there is a “combination of challenges” regarding demand and supply chain issues.

“Overall, demand remains good but there are some segments such as coatings or construction where we are seeing a decline in demand. We have achieved strong results in the first half of 2022 and the company is keeping its forecasts for 2022 earnings unchanged.”

“We still see good demand in sectors such as food and pharmaceuticals – Brenntag’s advantage is our wide customer base, allowing the stronger customer segments to partially compensate for those which are not doing as well.”

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-European Commission approves €1bn to support German Salzgitter for renewable hydrogen

The European Commission has approved state aid to the German steel producer Salzgitter to support the company to decarbonise its steel production processes using renewable hydrogen, the commission said in a press release 5 October.

Salzgitter is set to achieve this by producing renewable hydrogen on site at a new production facility.

The aid will take the form of a direct grant, which will “support the construction and installation of a large-scale (100MW) electrolyser, which will produce approximately 9,000 tonnes/year of renewable hydrogen. The hydrogen produced by the electrolyser will be used as feedstock in the direct reduction plant,” the press release said.

  • As well as hydrogen production, the grant will be used to develop a direct reduction plant and an electric arc furnace as a replacement for one of the blast furnaces at the companies Lower Saxony site.
  • The hydrogen production plant is expected to begin commercial operations in 2026.

The commission’s review of the state-aid support found that the project:

  • applies an innovative technology
  • facilitates the development of an economic activity
  • has an incentive effect
  • has a limited impact on competition and trade
  • brings about positive effects that outweigh distortions

This announcement comes shortly after the commission approved state aid to the German chemicals company BASF in the production of renewable (low carbon) hydrogen.

Under EU State Aid rules, a support package of €134mn to BASF “in the production of renewable hydrogen, with the aim of decarbonising its chemical production processes and of promoting hydrogen use in the transport sector.”

European Commission approves €1bn to support German Salzgitter for renewable hydrogen

-Toray Introduces Hydrophilic Spunbond Nonwovens

Technology allows fabric to remain gentle on skin

Toray Industries, Inc., has created a spunbond nonwoven fabric that is persistently hydrophilic and is gentle on the skin. This fabric is suitable for disposable diapers, masks, feminine hygiene products, and other sanitary applications.  The company plans to start full-scale production when the production technology is well established.

Spunbond nonwoven fabrics for sanitary applications are normally made of polypropylene, which is softer than polyester. Since polypropylene is hydrophobic (glossary note 2), polypropylene spunbond nonwoven fabrics must be coated with hydrophilic agents for the application of diapers, masks, and feminine hygiene products. However, the coated hydrophilic agents are easily runoff from the fabrics on contact with water. Consequently, the fabrics lose hydrophilicity.

Toray has been addressing this issue by researching the hydrophilized polymer itself rather than focusing on surface treatment. The compnay has developed special domain structures by copolymerizing polyester with a well-defined moalr mass hydrophilic component. The domain structures enable the company to significantly improve the hydrophilicity of the polyester and result in a new spunbond nonwoven fabric that is persistently hydrophilic.

The polyester can be polymerized using bio-based or recycled materials. Toray will push ahead with efforts to reduce environmental impact and achieve a sustainable economy.

Toray Introduces Hydrophilic Spunbond Nonwovens

Polymer-Additives – Flake-Sorter 07-10-2022