News Round-Up

Excerpt: Here are the news & developments from the world of plastics and Packaging

India's aggregate chemicals demand to grow 6%: CPMA

INDIA'S demand for petrochemicals is expected to grow at 6% or higher in 2020-2021, according to estimates by Chemicals & Petrochemicals Manufacturers' Association (CPMA). “India's aggregated demand for petrochemicals increased by 7% in 2017-18,” the association said in a presentation at the Asian Petrochemicals Industry Conference (APIC) in Taipei, Taiwan recently.

India's highly diversified petrochemical industry currently worth $150-bn has the potential to grow to $226-bn, CPMA said. Methanol consumption is projected to have a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3-4%, the industry association said.

The next APIC will be held in Mumbai on May 28-29, 2020.

Varroc may buy Sintex automotive moulding unit

SINTEX Plastic is reportedly looking to sell its domestic automotive custom moulding business as part of a plan to pare its debt and focus on its core business. According to press reports, Aurangabad-based Varroc Engineering is in advanced talks with Sintex Plastic Technology to acquire the latter's domestic automotive custom moulding business.

Sintex Plastic, which makes plastic products for automotive and household items, has also put its overseas automotive custom moulding business on the block, the report revealed.

The company had exploratory talks with several Indian auto ancillary companies before going ahead with Varroc Engineering, the report quoted unnamed sources as saying, and added that if a deal is struck, it may fetch Sintex Plastic anywhere between Rs. 350-crore and Rs. 500-crore.

According to the people cited earlier, the company may be able at generate an additional Rs 1,500-2,000-crore by selling Sintex NP, its France-headquartered step-down subsidiary which is also on the block. Sintex Plastic had a debt of Rs. 3,606 crore on its books at the end of September 2018, according to data posted by the stock exchange.

BASF and Shanhu Industry to develop lightweight, low-emission PU system products

BASF and automotive parts manufacturer Liyang Shanhu Industry Auto Trim Material Co., Ltd. (Shanhu Industry) just signed a strategic cooperation agreement to develop lightweight and low-emission polyurethane (PU) system product applications.

Under the agreement, BASF will provide material and technical expertise in the development of innovative product applications by Shanhu Industry.

“There is an increasing demand in China for composite products that make automotive parts lighter for fuel efficiency, and with lower emissions and odor for better interior car air quality. Together with Shanhu Industry, we will meet this market need,” said Desmond Long, Vice President, Business Management Transportation, Performance Materials Asia Pacific, BASF.

“We have had great success with BASF in developing the paper honeycomb trunk floor business in the last decade. We are delighted to continue working with BASF, to explore new PU system product applications for the automotive industry. These include new reinforced polyurethane composites, sound absorbing and low volatile organic compounds (VOC), low odor ceiling polyurethane foam, sound absorbing lightweight foam, paper honeycomb composites, and new skin materials,” said Mr. Li Tiansheng, Chairman, Shanhu Industry.

As a leading producer of automotive parts, Shanhu Industry has been partnering with BASF since 2008 on the development of polyurethane materials for the automotive industry. As part of the cooperation agreement, the two parties will also jointly promote the use of polyurethane systems in automotive product applications.

SABIC to make further significant investments in high heat ULTEM resin capacity

SABIC has announced that the company is making significant investments in expanding the capacity of its ULTEM and EXTEM high heat resin production in order to meet growing demand. The new production plant in Singapore is due to come on-stream in the first half of 2021, making SABIC the only high heat resin producer with manufacturing capability in all regions. In addition to this, investments to stretch our short term capacity were made to support the immediate growing demand. Rudy Miller, Director, High Heat Business, shares the company's strategy for the ULTEM and EXTEM business.

ULTEM resin is a family of amorphous thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI) resins that offer outstanding elevated thermal resistance, high strength and stiffness, and broad chemical resistance. With a seamless balance between mechanical properties and processability, ULTEM materials offer design engineers exceptional flexibility and freedom. ULTEM resin can be extruded, thermoformed, extrusion blow molded and injection molded and key benefits include: long-term heat resistance up to 180°C; outstanding strength and stiffness up to 200°C; dimensional stability over a wide temperature range; strength retention and inherent flame resistance without additives.

SABIC's EXTEM resin is able to meet even higher heat requirements than ULTEM resin, with enhanced creep and strength performance at elevated temperatures. This resin has the capability to fill thin-wall, complex, miniaturized parts, IR transparency and the benefit of offering potential lead free solderable solutions.

“In total, we are expanding our production capacity by (more than) 50%. We are currently progressing the investment in a new ULTEM resin facility in Singapore which will come on-stream in 2021 and which will enable us to produce closer to our customers in the Asia-Pacific region”, he said.

On the question of making these investments in ULTEM resin, Mr Rudy Miller said: “Fundamentally, it is our ambition to support our customers and our customers' growth. There is a growing demand for high heat polymers, driven by stringent requirements in an increasing number of applications that are exposed to challenging or tough environments. Our existing customers have been loyal to our ULTEM brand while new applications and customers are also rapidly driving new demand and opportunities. We want to deliver global high quality products to local producers as responsively and reliably as possible. Markets and product life cycles are moving faster than ever before. That is why we believe we are making the right investments now. We want to be able to offer material solutions at the right time, with shorter lead times for short cycle customer development, while becoming - and remaining - a steady local partner for longer cycle markets and applications”.

Innovation is a major driver for ULTEM and EXTEM resins. In fact, more than half of our High Heat Thermoplastics organization is closely working with customers on new applications, and there are plenty in the pipeline. In electrical and electronics everything needs to be smart, driven by real-time direct communication and connectivity. These days everything is packed with electronics, from increasingly autonomous vehicles, to smart grids in solar and wind energy harvesting, and from sophisticated appliances or consumer portable devices to telecom infrastructure, smart meters and connectors. The current trends, such as miniaturization, weight reduction, improved optics and connectivity, call for dimensionally stable materials, with tight tolerances, ease of processability and the possibility for mass production, all combined with minimization of waste and optimization of potential post-consumer recyclability, he opined.

Talking of the environment, he said: “We have to do more than make some of the best polymers in the world. SABIC has a strong commitment to sustainability - and our high heat resins are making their contribution. Firstly through their use in medical, automotive and aerospace applications already available today. With multi-sterilizable materials enabling re-use of equipment in Healthcare, metal replacement solutions in Automotive offering weight reduction and less fuel consumption and recyclability of materials used in the Aerospace industry. With the current expansion of our global capacity, the improvements in local compounding in Asia Pacific and even further expansions yet to come, we are confident to tell our customers that ULTEM resin supply is back today and here to stay. We are here to support customers and address exciting new challenges together. It is our job to deliver the right solutions to our customers to help them grow when they need it and where they need it. We are fully committed to doing just that”

perPETual Global Technologies recycling effort crosses 2-bn PET bottles

PERPETUAL Global Technologies Ltd. has announced that it has just completed recycling its 2 billionth used plastic bottle using its own proprietary developed and patented sustainable recycling process.

perPETual achieved this milestone on April 16, 2019 with their manufacturing partner based in India, where they are currently recycling approximately 2.5 million bottles daily. These bottles are transformed into sustainable ester, which in turn can be used to manufacture a wide range of high-quality, sustainable, recycled polyester products.

Every year, 600 billion plastic bottles are used across the globe, and pollution from plastic waste has been hitting headlines. However, Dr. Vivek Tandon, CEO and Co-Founder of perPETual, has a different vision of used plastic. “Isn't it crazy,” said Dr. Tandon, “that dirty, toxic crude oil mined out of the ground is referred to as “black gold” whereas plastic bottles used just once to contain clean drinking water are referred to as waste after just one use? We at perPETual see used plastic bottles not as waste, but as a valuable resource, which can be efficiently transformed to replace conventional oil-based chemicals. We have developed the world's only known profitable, commercial scale process to help reduce the world's plight of waste plastic bottles by making it highly profitable to recycle them.”

Patented depolymerisation process

Using breakthrough, patented technology, perPETual has developed a depolymerisation process to break down plastics back into esters. perPETual's process uses 86% less water and 75% less energy than the conventional method of producing esters from crude oil. The esters produced are used to produce high-quality, sustainable filament yarns, used by leading clothing and apparel brands.

“To date, perPETual has maintained a low profile, but due to customer demand for more product and the successful scaling up of our process, we now seek both financial and industrial partners to expand our process globally. Together we can make a material difference to our world,” Dr. Tandon said in a press release.

Chemical recycling: DuPont Teijin films makes significant progress

THE use of recycled content is a critical part of DuPont Teijin Films' circular economy strategy, and the upcycling of PET through the LuxCR process also marks an important step forward in the chemical recycling technology for the wider polyester industry. The waste is transformed into a variety of technically advanced BOPET films serving a wide range of applications and markets.

Although mechanical recycling will continue to play an important role in the circular economy, it does have some limitations with regards to the physical and mechanical properties of the recycled product over repeated cycles and also in the food contact compliance area where certain end use applications are temperature restricted.

The LuxCR process addresses these two issues by depolymerising mechanically recovered PET flake back into BHET (Bis 2-Hydroxyethyl Terephthalate) which is chemically indistinguishable from virgin monomer. This base monomer is then repolymerised into a polyester polymer which is subsequently converted into BOPET film. Contamination is removed during the process through a combination of monomer and polymer filtration units and by vacuum extraction which runs for several hours at temperatures between 270-300°C.

Initial commercial launches are planned in Q2 across a range of packaging formats and will include high temperature food contact applications such as ready meal lidding and ovenable flow wrap structures. Potentially the full range of MYLAR and MELINEX products can be produced using post-consumer recycled content and DuPont Teijin Films are discussing the use in applications as diverse as labels, solar panels, ID cards and many more.

Although the initial focus for the LuxCR process is to provide a feedstock to DuPont Teijin Films' own film manufacturing lines, feasibility studies are underway to see if the scope can be extended to include the external sale of polymer which would open up the technology to applications such as PET bottles and trays. There is also work ongoing to assess the feasibility of collecting and recycling MYLAR and MELINEX post industrial waste from DuPont Teijin Films' direct customers. DuPont Teijin Films, a joint venture between DuPont and Teijin Limited, is the world's premier producer of polyester films and related services for Healthcare, Alternative Energy, Durable Media, Electronics, Specialist Packaging, Electrical Insulation and Capacitors Industries and many more. Only DuPont Teijin Films manufactures MYLAR and MELINEX brand films.

East Timor aims to be first 'plastic-neutral' nation

THE small Southeast Asian nation of East Timor wants to be the world's first plastic-neutral nation by recycling all its waste plastic with the help of an Australian-invented technology.

The technology, a catalytic hydrothermal reactor (Cat-HTR), was invented at the University of Sydney by professors Thomas Maschmeyer and Len Humphreys. The pair founded Sydney-based Licella Holdings Ltd. to commercialize the technology and Humphreys is now its CEO.

East Timor has signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a US$40 million Cat-HTR recycling plant. Humphreys said Cat-HTR is highly efficient to recycle "virtually all plastic waste."

"Cat-HTR is much better equipped to handle plastic waste than current systems as it converts all types of plastic waste in only 20 minutes. This has multiple benefits, such as reduced costs for waste producers due to materials re-use, reduced landfill and less plastic in our oceans," he said.

Licella's reactor uses water at near supercritical temperatures to convert waste into high-value liquids, which can be used to produce plastics, fuel or other chemicals.

East Timor generates about 70 metric tons of plastic waste a day. Demetrio do Amaral de Carvalho, the country's secretary of state for the environment, said one Cat-HTR plant has the potential to convert East Timor's entire plastic waste stream into petrochemicals. Licella's discussions with the East Timor government started in December and agreement was reached in early April.

Licella has licensed Mura Technology Ltd., a joint venture between Licella and London-based Armstrong Energy Ltd., to apply the Cat-HTR platform worldwide outside Australia and New Zealand. Mura waived its license and royalty fees and the East Timor government agreed to facilitate the project with land and supporting logistics. Abel Guterres, East Timor's ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of Fiji, said East Timor is "on the right course" to be plastics neutral by 2030.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony until 1975, when it declared independence and was immediately taken over by Indonesia. It fought for independence until 1999 when Indonesia relinquished control. With United Nations assistance it became a sovereign state in 2002. Indonesia still controls the western half of the Timor Island, which is 1,200 miles north of Australia.

Ineos Styrolution and Greenmantra Sign Jda To Advance Polystyrene Chemical Recycling

GREENMANTRA and INEOS Styrolution have signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA), which will align GreenMantra's patented technology and INEOS Styrolution's manufacturing infrastructure to convert waste polystyrene into chemical monomer building blocks that further advance the polystyrene circular economy by replacing a portion of virgin monomer feed in INEOS Styrolution's polymerization process.

This joint development agreement brings together a promising match between the chemical up-cycling technology patented by GreenMantra for plastic waste and the manufacturing expertise of INEOS Styrolution. The maturity of each company in its respective area of expertise will expedite the diversion of polystyrene waste from landfills by converting it back into valuable polymers and monomer building blocks; ultimately closing the loop into polystyrene resin, and extending value of this plastic resource. As a part of this partnership, GreenMantra's secondary product from the polystyrene depolymerization process will be evaluated for use as a raw material by INEOS Styrolution for its polystyrene resin production.

This agreement allows both companies to expand their efforts to advance the circular economy. INEOS Styrolution is expanding its portfolio of working with leaders in the chemical recycling industry, and GreenMantra continues to find new, innovative ways to apply its existing technology and divert plastic from landfills, while creating value-added performance polymers that serve a broad range of industries and applications. Ricardo Cuetos, VP Standard Products, INEOS Styrolution America LLC, says, “We are excited to announce this JDA with Greenmantra as we continue to expand our partnerships with companies across North America. It is a pleasure to collaborate with a company that shares our commitment to pursuing a circular economy and keeping valuable polystyrene material from ending up in our oceans and landfills.”

Domenic Di Mondo, VP of Technology at GreenMantra adds, “As we launch our new technology to up-cycle waste polystyrene, we are delighted to work with INEOS Styrolution on applications for our secondary recycled styrene product. This exciting partnership aids both INEOS Styrolution in its goal of enhancing the sustainability of its products and GreenMantra in our mission to close the loop on waste PS by identifying value-creating outlets for our two product streams.”

DuPont showcases sustainable innovations at Chinaplas

DUPONT Transportation & Advanced Polymers (T&AP), a business unit of DowDuPont Specialty Products Division, showcased three sustainable propositions including bio-based materials, e-F.A.S.T. (friction abating sliding thermoplastics) materials and PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled) solutions at Chinaplas 2019.

DuPont's bio-based material is DuPont Zytel RS polyamide, which is made from castor oil – this brings the smart functionalities of Roborock Vacuums to life. Several new material technologies are applied in this smart device, e.g., an LDS (laser distance sensor) cover made from Zytel RS that provides superior mechanical strength compared to traditional polycarbonate material; low warpage supports precision control and operation; excellent colorability with balanced material performance enables great design. Last but not least, the local manufacturing of Zytel RS materials in China could provide a reliable supply source with consistent quality.

Industry 4.0 and manufacturing automation continue to drive material handling equipment growth in the bottling industry. There is an increased demand for conveyor belts that improve productivity, safety and sustainability.

The Regina e-F.A.S.T. conveyor material was introduced by DuPont in close collaboration with Italy's Regina Chain, a global leader in conveyor chains, belts and components. The new DuPont Delrin polyacetal grade preserves consistently low coefficient of friction over extended periods of time. The e-F.A.S.T. conveyor belt made with the new DuPont Delrin grade provides a true “dry running” solution, promoting sustainability through low-maintenance cost, longer service life, reduced lubricant and energy requirements, and improved safety for the working environment due to drier equipment and floors. The exceptional wear properties of DuPont Delrin also reduce dust and extend the wear life of e-F.A.S.T. conveyor. Further, noise levels are reduced by 50%.

Finally, DuPont's non-halogen flame retardant PET resin (Rynite RE19036), made with post-consumer recycled resin, helps customers to reduce their environmental footprints. PCR-based materials meet the updated EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) requirements for plastic parts by offering reduced bromine and chlorine content and post-consumer recycled plastic content. Its high flow and low warpage properties allow faster and easier processing, making it possible to produce bigger parts for consumer and industry applications. DuPont's PCR solution has been successfully applied in printer components.