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DIGITAL+PRINT www.plasticsandrubberasia.com

A S l A ’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r t h e p las t l c s and r u b b e r l nd u s t r y

业 界 新闻 材 料新闻 海洋塑料:升级再造废物的主轴

20190806全立發-PRA廣告稿印刷檔(W210x276mm).pdf 1 2019/8/6 上午 09:31:18









In this issue

Volume 34, No 248

publlshed slnce 1985

A S l A’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r the plastlcs and rubber lndustry

Features 焦 點 內 容 13 材料新聞: 海洋塑料:升級再造廢物的主軸 16 Additives – Flame retardants (FRs) are vital additives to plastics processing, with newer less toxic FRs being developed. However, some may not be as eco-friendly as previously thought, according to recent studies

20 Country Focus – Thailand – The upcoming T-Plas exhibition, to be held in Bangkok from 18-21 September, will support the country’s thrust into the plastics industry with new technology and machinery

22 Country Focus – Southeast Asia – The Asian region is taking its cue from major global trends to make an impact on the plastics industry, as showcased in this preview to K2019, to be held in Düsseldorf, Germany, from 16-23 October 24 Recycling – In this VDMA interview, Peter Steinbeck, CSO of extrusion machinery company Windmöller & Hölscher, gives his views on the circular economy

26 Thermoforming – A round-up of the latest technology to be presented by CMT Materials, GN Thermforming and Kiefel at the K2019 show in October

28 Packaging – To counter over-packaging and pollution problems, less use of plastics is more for the packaging sector

Regulars 概 要 2 Industry News

10 業界新聞

Liquid crystal polymers are making headway in the consumer electronics sector Asian countries are grappling with price fluctuations and lower capacities to cater to the demand for natural rubber DIGITAL+PRINT

On the Cover Flame retardants may be a boon or bane for the plastics sector, given the latest reports on the sector

Connect @ �界新 � 材料新 � 海洋塑料:升级再造废物的主轴

Senior Editor Angelica Buan Email: gel@plasticsandrubberasia.com Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling Circulation Stephanie Yuen Email: stephanie@taramedia.com.my

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Industry News

M&As/ Investments • US-based Lubrizol Corporation has acquired Bavaria Medizin Technologie (BMT), a manufacturer of intravascular and non-vascular devices from Custos Vermögensverwaltungs and minority shareholders. With over 100 employees, Germany-based BMT has a facility in Romania. A pioneer in catheter-based technologies, BMT developed the first Paccocath commercial drug-coated balloon and has 50 patents. • AkzoNobel is to acquire French aerospace coatings manufacturer Mapaero, expand its structural and cabin coating subsegments, towards the company’s 2020 guidance. Established in 1992 and specialising in sustainable waterbased and advanced eco-friendly products, Mapaero operates a facility in France and has around 140 employees. • Speciality chemicals firm Evonik Industries is investing a singledigit million US-dollar amount in New Jersey-based earlystage investor Tech Council Ventures II. The latter finances young, innovative start-up companies



and actively supports them with their extended network in the Mid-Atlantic region on the east coast of the US. • Swiss speciality materials firm Clariant has sold its Healthcare Packaging business to a newlyformed affiliate of Arsenal Capital Partners for CHF308 million, which is13.2 times the adjusted FY2018 EBITDA. The business offers products used to protect pharmaceutical products from moisture and oxygen such as canisters and packets, integrated desiccant systems and specially designed plastic bottles containing oxygen barrier materials. In 2018, it generated sales of CHF135 million and has facilities in the US, France, China and India with 600 employees. • Methacrylate chemicals firm Röhm GmbH, having completed the carveout from Evonik Industries, has been transferred to its new owner Advent International, as an independent company. With 2018 revenue of EUR1.9 billion, the company has 3,900 employees worldwide across 15 production sites in Germany, China, the US, Russia, and South Africa.

• Japan’s Teijin Limited has completed the acquisition of Renegade Materials Corporation, a North American supplier of heat-resistant thermoset prepreg for the aerospace industry. Teijin is strengthening its carbon fibre and intermediate materials businesses and targeting annual sales in this field in excess of US$900 million by 2030. • US-based compounder RTP Company has acquired the Zeotherm TPV product line from Zeon Chemicals. The TPV materials offers 150°C continuous use performance while withstanding long-term exposure to engine oils and lubricant greases, in comparison to other TPEs or copolyesters. In addition, Zeotherm bonds well to nylon substrates in overmoulding applications. • Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical has acquired Emas Plastik and its affiliated companies (Emas Group), a major plastics compounder group in Turkey, through its European subsidiary Sumika Polymer Compounds Europe, to further advance the global development of its PP compound business. • French chemical firm Arkema has acquired Lambson, a UK

company specialising in photoinitiators for curing, a technology that caters to markets such as electronics, 3D printing, digital ink, composites and high performance coatings. It will complement the offerings of Arkema subsidiary Sartomer that specialises in photocure resins. Lambson had sales of some EUR45 million. • Malaysia’s Lotte Chemical Titan Holding (LCT) is to divest 49% of its equity interest in PT Lotte Chemical Indonesia to its major shareholder/parent company Lotte Chemical Corporation of South Korea for US$65.4 million cash. Public-listed LCT will still hold a 51% stake in the Indonesian unit. The proposed divestment will allow LCC to jointly fund an integrated petrochemical facility, Lotte Chemical Indonesia New Ethylene, which consists of a 1 milliontonne/year naphtha cracker and other related downstream petrochemical facilities located in Cilegon, Indonesia. • State-owned oil/gas firm Saudi Aramco will buy a 20% stake in the oil-to-chemicals business of India’s Reliance Industries, in a deal valued at US$15 billion, as the Indian company seeks




Industry News

to cut its massive debt of US$22 billion. The deal includes the 1.24 million barrels/ day. Jamnagar refinery and Saudi Aramco will also supply 500,000 barrels/day of crude oil on a long-term basis to the refinery. • US private equity firm Kohlberg & Company has completed the acquisition of Bemis Healthcare Packaging Europe from Amcor’s Flexible Packaging business unit for US$394 million. With locations in Ireland and the UK, Bemis will be merged with another Kohlberg company and will operate as Nelipak Healthcare Packaging. Bemis Healthcare was sold due to packaging giant Amcor's US$6.8 billion purchase of Bemis Co. and the European Commission’s requirement to divest the healthcare business due to competition concerns. • US chemicals maker Huntsman Corporation is to sell its chemical intermediates and surfactants businesses to Thailand-based Indorama Ventures for US$2 billion in cash plus the assumption of up to approximately US$75 million in deferred pension obligations. This is the largest acquisition



in Indorama’s history and one of the largest acquisitions by a Thai company in the last decade. Expected closing is Q4 2019, subject to regulatory approvals. The deal includes Huntsman’s businesses for integrated ethylene oxide and derivatives, ethylene glycol, propylene oxide/ MTBE, LAB (linear alkyl-benzene) and downstream surfactants units. • North American specialty plastics extruder Pexco has acquired US compatriot profile maker HPE Extrusion Solutions (HPE). Since 2009, Pexco has made multiple acquisitions and grown into the largest custom industrial extrusion company in North America. Pexco was acquired in 2018 by AEA Investors, a global private equity group. The purchase of HPE represents Pexco’s fifth acquisition under the new ownership. • US provider of colourant technology Chromaflo Technologies Corp., which is owned by private equity firm American Securities, has concluded the purchase of South Africa’s Liquid Colours colourant dispersion division. This is Chromaflo’s second acquisition in two years, with the

first being Central de Colores Plásticos (Cecoplas) of Mexico. • Belgian familyowned integrated nylon producer Domo Chemicals is to acquire the Performance Polyamides Business of Solvay (Brussels) in Europe for EUR300 million. The business needed to be sold due to the European Commission’s merger control clearance process, towards completing the divestment of Solvay’s remaining polyamides business to Germany-based BASF. The assets acquired are Solvay's engineering plastics in France and Poland; highperformance fibres in France and polymer and intermediates operations in France, Spain and Poland. It also includes a stake in a newly created joint venture for adipic acid between BASF and Domo in France. • Altivia Ketones & Additives, an affiliate of Altivia Petrochemicals, is to acquire Dow's Acetone Derivatives Business and associated chemical manufacturing assets in West Virginia, as well as the 460-acre Institute Industrial Park, which was originally operated by Union Carbide and became an

industrial park in the mid-1980s. The park houses the acetone business as well as other Dow and DuPont businesses. • German chemical firms Bayer and Lanxess are selling their stakes in the chemical park operator Currenta to funds managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), the world's largest infrastructure investor, for EUR3.5 billion. Bayer’s position as a Chempark customer has changed following the carveout of Covestro materials firm; and in line with its plan to cut 12,000 jobs. Currenta is currently a joint venture of Bayer (60%) and Lanxess (40%). Bayer expects its part of the transaction to close by end 2019. Lanxess as one of Currenta's main customers will provide MIRA with operational support during the transition phase and will continue to hold its stake in Currenta for longer. Moreover, Lanxess has reached an agreement with MIRA on service and supply contracts for its three sites in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld for ten years, since it still operates its global production facilities there.


Plant set-ups/ Expansions • France’s automotive parts supplier Plastic Omnium has opened two R&D centres in Belgium and China with an investment of EUR100 million, which are focused on emissions control and fuel systems, and new energy developments. The Chinese centre, known as v-Omegatech, will support the group's rapid growth in China, where its fuel systems market share is expected to double to 17% by 2022. • Automotive parts supplier Röchling Engineering Plastics has invested EUR9 million in a new building to house its R&D centre in Haren, Germany. It will be completed by 2020. • Materials firm Covestro has commissioned a new tape line at its Leverkusen laboratory in Germany to further develop continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composites, which will be commercialised at its facility in South Germany. One such product under development is a TPU-based CFRTP, which boasts chemical resistance properties and flexibility in a wide temperature range. • Russia-based Rustark has started construction of its EUR200 million production plant to produce starch products and biopolymers, using wheat as a feedstock. The new facility will be built in four stages over a period of 10-15 years, with the first unit to have the capacity to process 500 tonnes/day of wheat and expected to commence production in 2022. • Japan’s Toray Industries is to establish a new production facility for battery separator film (BSF) for lithium-ion batteries (LiBs) in Nyergesújfalu, Hungary. Scheduled to begin operations in 2021, it will increase Toray’s total BSF production capacity by 20%. • Clariant’s catalysts business has set up a new services and support office in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The new branch, its fourth in the Middle East, will play a key role in the company’s plan to strengthen its presence there. • India’s Nayara Energy will utilise W. R. Grace & Co’s Unipol PP process technology for its world-scale capacity PP facility located at the Vadinar Refinery in Gujarat. It will utilise 450 kilotonnes/year of PP feedstock. Nayara Energy intends to produce phthalate-free homopolymer products for the Indian market. • Styrenics maker Ineos Styrolution held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new 100 kilotonne ASA (acrylonitrile styrene acrylate) plant in Bayport, Texas, recently. The development of the new includes increased ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) capacity at its Altamira site in Mexico. The location of the new site is adjacent to the Ineos’s styrene monomer plant and is expected to be operational by 2021. • US-based chemical maker ExxonMobil has started production on a new high-performance PE line at its Texas plant.

Industry News

The expansion increases plant production capacity by 65% or 650,000 tonnes/ year, bringing site capacity to nearly 1.7 million tonnes/ year. This expansion builds upon supply advantages created by ExxonMobil’s two new performance PE lines, which began production in 2017 at the company’s manufacturing site in Mont Belvieu, Texas.

Machinery News • With the bankruptcy of Draka Polymer Films, Dutch asset acquisition firm Hilco Industrial Acquisitions has acquired all machinery and equipment, materials and intellectual property rights of Draka. Set up 54 years ago, Netherlands-based Draka specialised in films for office products with more than 100 designs and 300 stock items under its Peacock collection. It also provided coating, printing, embossing, laminating and slitting services in-house. • UK’s independent provider of materials and product qualification testing Element Materials Technology has 6


• Set up a year ago, new Canadian chemical firm West Coast Olefins is taking the first steps towards the construction of a C$5.6 billion petrochemical facility at a 300-acre site in British Columbia, to access abundant feedstocks. The project will include a 1 million-tonne/year world-scale ethylene plant and PE facility and the majority of the PE resins integrated into its company Admaterials Technologies, a Singaporebased business that provides testing to the construction sector, as well as chemical, environmental and mechanical testing and certification services. This represents the final stage following the acquisition of Exova Group in 2017. • US welding equipment supplier Dukane has acquired all the assets and intellectual property of US compatriot Aurizon, a developer of high-power rotary ultrasonic systems for converting nonwoven materials, bonding textiles & films and sealing packages. Over the years, Dukane and Aurizon have worked together to develop a generator solution for continuous ultrasonic

will be shipped to the growing Asian markets, it said. The overall project will include: an NGL recovery plant to recover ethane, propane, butane, and natural gas condensate from Enbridge’s West Coast Pipeline; as well as associated off-site facilities. • Russia’s oil/gas company Sibur’s Blagoveshchensk site, in the Republic bonding, sealing and converting. • Machinery maker Sidel has acquired Cognac Moules Emballages Plastiques (Comep), a French producer and designer of moulds for PET, adding on to its tooling offering. Comep was created in 1998 and produces over 4,000 moulds/ year for customers around the world. With around 60 employees, it was a first mover in the low blowing pressure technologies. • US industrial firm Textron Inc is looking to sell its German fuel tank subsidiary Kautex, which operates 30 plants in 14 countries and generated US$2.3 billion in revenue in 2018. Kautex is a manufacturer

of Bashkortostan, near the Kazak border, has opened the US$90 million reconstruction of its terephthalic acid (TPA) facility, the only one currently in Russia. Currently, consumption of TPA in Russia is around 500 kilotonnes/ year and with an increase in output from 272 to 350 kilotonnes/year at the facility, it will help to phase out reliance on imports. of blow-moulded plastic fuel systems for cars and light trucks, including pressurised fuel tanks for hybrid applications. It is not to be confused with the blow moulding machine maker Kautex Maschinenbau, which has been separate from the business since 1977 and is not owned by Textron. • Germanybased, familyowned filtration solutions company Mann+Hummel has finalised the acquisition of Canadian air filtration company Hardy Filtration. This will expand the global footprint and manufacturing capabilities of Tri-Dim Filter Corporation´s business, which Mann+Hummel acquired in 2018.

Materials News

Ocean plastics: the common thread in upcycling waste Major companies and brands are banding together to solve the issue of marine plastic waste by utilising ocean plastics in their products, says Angelica Buan in this article.


he ocean, covering more than 70% of the earth's surface and spanning 362 million sq km, is vital to the planet’s climate, nutrition and development. It is the source of livelihood for 10% of the world's population engaged in the marine sector, and serves the seafood protein needs of about 15% of the world’s population. It is the channel of trade and communication between countries via ships and under water cables. However, the world is now at risk of losing US$2.5 trillion/year worth of marine ecosystem services, including food and oxygen, flood and storm protection, habitat for marine species, and more, to plastic pollution, according to a recent study titled Global ecological, social and economic impacts of marine plastic, published in Marine Pollution Bulletin. The oceans have become a receptacle for approximately 8 million tonnes of waste plastics/year including wrappers, water bottles, fishing nets, and more

We all know that plastic pollution is a huge environmental burden. Today, the oceans have become a receptacle for approximately 8 million tonnes of waste plastics/year including wrappers, water bottles, fishing nets, and the like. Not to mention that other human activities, such as improper waste management, over- fishing, irresponsible mining, and use of toxic chemicals are also desecrating the oceans, reducing its capacity to absorb carbon emissions from the atmosphere, or causing soil degradation. While the damage can no longer be undone, initiatives from companies, from active wear brands to luxury brands to utilise raw materials such as nylon, fibres and yarns from plastic waste feedstock, are expected to nip the accumulating plastic pollution in the bud.

Adidas’s latest golf shoes are made of upcycled plastics

Less ecological footprint with upcycled fibre Pushing for a zero waste agenda, European sportswear manufacturer Adidas is walking the talk with its sports shoes collection incorporating ocean plastics produced by Parley for the Oceans.

Parley for the Oceans and its partners are working on the development of new materials from ocean waste

Adidas is a founding member of Parley for the Oceans, a global network of creators, thinkers and leaders from brands, governments and environmental groups that upcycles plastic scraps collected by partner organisations on shorelines and coastal areas of countries like Maldives. The group hinges on the Parley AIR (Avoid, Intercept, Re-Design) strategy. Adidas’s has recently rolled out what it claims to be the first ever golf shoe, with its entire upper part made from upcycled plastic waste, which is in line with Adidas’s strategy to use 100% recycled polyester in all apparel and footwear by 2024, it said. SEPTEMBER 2019


Materials News Regenerating nylon from landfill waste Econyl, the regenerated nylon comes from waste, including old carpets and fishing nets, from landfills and oceans from around the world. It is infinitely recyclable, according to its maker Aquafil, an Italian-headquartered synthetic fibre and polymers company. The manufacturer estimates that every 10,000 tonnes of Econyl created saves 70,000 barrels of petroleum.

Econyl is regenerated nylon from waste, including old carpets and fishing nets, from landfills and oceans from around the world

And yes, this sustainable nylon yarn made from regenerated fishing nets, fabric scraps and industrial plastic is finding its way into luxury brands, such as fashion house Prada for its Re-Nylon bags. The Milanbased company is aiming to convert all its Prada virgin nylon bags into Re-Nylon by the end of 2021.

Burberry based its new capsule collection on Econyl

Burberry has also introduced Refibra, a new yarn produced by upcycling cotton leftovers from the Burberry Mill in Yorkshire, to make its dust bags for all jewellery and leather goods. Busting ghost fishing gear into new materials Fishing gear that is abandoned, lost or discarded is posing a threat to the world’s oceans and contributing significantly to marine debris, as well as becoming a navigational hazard in coastal and offshore areas, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)/Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Specifically, ghost fishing nets made of nylons and other plastic types are currently spooking the oceans in throngs. An estimated 640,000 tonnes of these nets are currently in the ocean. These comprise up to 10% of the marine litter. Seizing the opportunity to recover valuable material, Dutch chemicals firm DSM and watersports company Starboard have partnered to create surfboard components made from DSM’s 100% recycled nylon known as Akulon RePurposed. All the products made using Akulon RePurposed are branded as NetPositive! by Starboard.

Prada plans to convert all its virgin nylon bags into Re-Nylon by the end of 2021

Elsewhere, British luxury fashion house Burberry also based its new capsule collection, which includes a reinvention of the brand’s lightweight classic car coat, on Econyl. Burberry is known for its material innovations, having invented the gabardine, a breathable, weatherproof and hardwearing fabric to the more recent work with company 37.5 to use volcanic sand and waste coconut shell in thermoregulation technology for quilted jackets.



DSM and Starboard's partnership to produce surfboard components made from recycled fishing nets helps to create sustainable livelihoods for several local communities in India

The nylon is fully recycled from discarded nylonbased fishing nets from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, giving a new lease of life as fins, fin boxes, SUP pumps, and other structural parts in surfboards.

Materials News The partners are collecting and upcycling the nets and in the process of collection, sorting, cleaning and processing of discarded fishing nets creating sustainable livelihoods for several local communities in India. DSM says it has upcycled about 3,000 tonnes/year of discarded fishing net plastics, supporting litter-free beaches and a healthier marine environment, as well as driving job creation in India’s coastal communities. Polyester yarn from recycled bottles Plastic bottles are one of the most common items that litter the oceans. Accounting for nearly 6% of the total marine litter composition, plastic bottles takes approximately 450 years to decompose, according to a Marine Conservancy decomposition estimate of most plastic debris. Taking recycling plastic bottles to a higher level, Unifi, the maker of Repreve recycled polyester fibre from PET bottles, has now launched a new sustainable product under the Repreve brand that enables consumers to participate in tackling the problem of ocean plastic. Repreve Our Ocean fibre is made from PET bottles collected within 50 km of coastlines in countries or areas that lack formal waste or recycling systems. The US company says that the new material will help keep billions of bottles out of landfills and ocean-bound waste streams, and thus, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and petroleum use, as well as conserve water and other precious natural materials. Unifi estimates that it has recycled 15 billion bottles, with its Repreve already being used by a number of brands, including automotive maker Ford in its Focus Electric and Fusion models’ car seats.

To reduce the accumulation of waste from consumer goods packaging, manufacturers are taking an active role by forming alliances in promoting recycling postconsumer wastes into packaging materials. One example is the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a not-for-profit organisation composed of more than 35 global companies from across the entire plastics value chain. It includes BASF, Berry Global, Braskem, Chevron Phillips, Clariant, Covestro, CP Group, Dow, DSM, Equate Petrochemical Company, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics, Gemini Corporation, Grupo Phoenix, Henkel, LyondellBasell, Mitsubishi Chemical, Mitsui Chemicals, Mondi, Nova Chemicals, Novolex, OxyChem, PepsiCo, PolyOne, Procter & Gamble, Reliance Industries, Sabic, Sasol, Sealed Air, Shell, Sinopec, SKC, Storopack, Suez, SCG Chemicals, Sumitomo Chemical, Tomra, Total, Veolia, Versalis (Eni), and Westlake Chemical. Launched in January this year, the group has pledged US$1.5 billion over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment. AEPW is providing funding to support its initial project known as The Incubator Network by investment management firm Circulate Capital and global business accelerator SecondMuse to develop and promote technologies, business models and entrepreneurs that prevent ocean plastic waste and improve waste management and recycling. The intent is to create a pipeline of projects for investment, with an initial focus on South Asia and Southeast Asia, it said.

P&G and TerraCycle collaborated to make bottles for hair care products from ocean plastics

Ford incorporated Repreve recycled polyester fibre into the 2015 F-150 Seats

Uniting towards a concerted effort Food wrappers, containers, lids and caps comprise between 8.9 to 9.1% of the total marine litter. Yet, not surprisingly, industry majors are pledging allegiance to plastic material, stating that “plastics are still the future”, “sustainability is a source of innovation” and “there are ways to create value in plastic waste”, during a pre-K2019 exhibition event in July.

“Businesses can play an important role in driving and inspiring change in the world,” intoned Ilaria Resta, North America General Manager of P&G Hair Care, recently. P&G has recently partnered with waste management firm, TerraCycle for the first ever beach plastic bottle for its Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner brands. Incorporating ocean plastic into the bottles used in P&G brands is part of the company’s long-term vision of using 100% renewable and recycled materials in its products and packaging, Resta said, reiterating that utilising ocean plastics for wider applications is an effective, more viable solution to end the issue of plastic waste in the environment. SEPTEMBER 2019















Flame retardants at a crossroads Flame retardants (FRs) are continuously being improved to offer consumers the best choice to ensure overall safety, however, green alternatives are facing challenges, says Angelica Buan in this report.




f we had to choose between fire Flame retardants can help delay the safety or safety from health risks, ignition of flammable materials used in which would it be? Obviously, the many consumer and industrial products choice would be both. Every day, we are in contact with objects that are potentially flammable or fire hazards, such as those made from plastics, fabrics, wood and paper. These materials could exacerbate the fires coming from faulty wirings, heating cooking appliances, lit candles, smoking, and other causes. Flame retardant additives, which have been in use in many consumer and industrial products since the 1970s, can help delay their ignition. According to market research firm Ceresana, approximately 2.26 million tonnes of flame retardants (FRs) were processed worldwide in 2018. The construction sector, a major application accounting for 30% of global demand, and the electrical industry, accounting for 534,000 tonnes of the global demand, represent the largest sales markets, Ceresana’s report said. Other common applications of FRs are in furnishings (foam, mattresses, carpets, curtains, and fabric blinds), transportation parts, such as seats, seat covers and fillings, bumpers, and overhead compartments, and others. It is for this reason that the FR market is projected to expand at a CAGR rate of 3.8% from 2018-2025, and the growth in applications will expand to electric vehicles, smart appliances, and novel consumer electronics, Frost & Sullivan furthered in its market study. Exposure to FRs has health risks, says study A downside to chemical-based FRs is that the additives have been associated with severe health conditions including endocrine and thyroid disruption, impact to the immune system, reproductive toxicity, cancer, and adverse effects to foetal and child development and neurologic function, according to a report from US-based National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Exposure comes through house dust, ingestion, and many other ways that are not quite obvious, especially since humans can spread the substance through their hands, adds the study. The chemicals can get into the air, water, and soil during manufacture. Moreover, FRs are also reported to contribute to the toxicity of plastics. The presence of FRs in many common products, from car seats to mobile gadgets to pet accessories, is also raising concern among consumers. A study carried out by the Indiana University in 2018 tested 18 children’s car seats (and 36 different fabric and foam samples from the car seats) manufactured in the US, Canada and China, between January 2017 and February 2018. It found that 15 seats contained traditional and new FR replacements, such as the phosphonate esters that are promoted as safer alternatives.

Additives Children's car seats are required to meet the flammability standards for car interiors outlined in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 302 of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, FRs have been linked to a variety of negative health effects, including hormone disruption, impaired brain development, liver damage and cancer. Children are more susceptible to these effects than adults because of their smaller size and their tendency to put their hands and objects in their mouths.

Exposure to FRs in car seats is through inhalation of the chemicals that leach into the air out of fabrics and foam

Exposure to FRs in car seats is through inhalation of the chemicals that leach into the air out of fabrics and foam; or by ingestion of the dust that accumulates inside vehicles, through skin contact or by chewing on their car seats. The researchers claimed that while car seat manufacturers are moving away from using certain toxic chemicals compounds, they were not specific as to what replacements were being used. Meanwhile, widespread adoption of mobile phones may also be a source of FR exposure, according to a study by the University of Toronto. It is the first study to identify hand-held electronic devices as a potential source of exposure to organophosphate esters, chemicals often used either as FRs or plasticisers that make materials such as PVC more flexible and durable. These chemicals, the researchers said, have been linked to neurotoxicity, decreased fertility and thyroid problems.

A study revealed that hand-held electronic devices may be a potential source of exposure to FR chemicals

The researchers found a connection between levels of organophosphate esters on electronic devices and levels on hands and in urine samples (of the study participants). Further, they found that levels of FRs and plasticisers were higher on hand-held devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, than non-hand-held electronics, such as televisions and desktop computers. As such, handheld devices like mobile phones, may be sources of some of these compounds, or may be indicators of chemical exposure from other sources such as their homes, cars and workplaces. Not only humans but pets may be at risk of FR exposure, according to another study. Published in American Chemical Society (ACS)’s Environmental Science & Technology journal, it associated the FR Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-isopropyl) Phosphate (TDICPP) contained in silicone tags to feline hyperthyroidism, the most common endocrine-related disease of older cats. It is claimed that the prevalence of the disease increased as new household FRs have been introduced in the market. While new FRs that are purported to be safer than their “more toxic” predecessors are currently being used in many materials, including the organobromine compounds, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) have been found to act as endocrine disruptors. The compound was phased out in the US in 2013. However, the newer FRs may not be all that safe as the ACS study included the PBDE alternative, organophosphate esters FR. The cats in the study wearing silicone tags showed elevated levels of TDCIPP. Cats and other pets may also be exposed to FRs from other household sources such as air fresheners, couches and mats. Developing “greener” FRs The use of additives has increased alongside the growth in applications for such materials like plastics. Thus, proper disposal of plastics not only is important in ensuring that plastics do not cause pollution but also help keeping potentially toxic substances from the environment. Thus, manufacturers are also developing “environmental friendly” FRs to address this concern. One such development comes from Texas A&M University’s new kind of FR coating developed using renewable, non-toxic materials readily found in nature, such as nanocellulose from wood and clay, according to a report published in the Advanced Materials Interfaces journal.

Experts at Texas A&M University developed a new kind of FR coating from naturally occurring materials



Additives The coating, the researchers reported, could provide better fire protection to materials including upholstered furniture, textiles and insulation. The uniqueness in this current study lies in the use of two naturally occurring nanomaterials, clay nanoplatelets and cellulose nanofibrils, the researchers said. Prior to the study, the materials have never been used to make a heat shielding or FR coating as a multilayer thin film deposited from water. The coating offer is said to offer excellent oxygen barrier to plastic films, commonly used for food packaging, and better fire protection at a lower cost than other, more toxic ingredients traditionally used in FR treatments, say the researchers. Moreover, during the flammability test, the coating showed that it can promote insulating char formation and reduce the release of fumes that feed a fire. The team says it is looking to developing further the project for industry implementation. Green alternatives come under fire Meanwhile, a recent study by Germany’s University Duisburg-Essen published in the Environmental Health News (EHN) journal examined a new class of “green” FRs typically used in foam insulation. It cited the PolyFR butadiene styrene brominated copolymer manufactured by Dow Chemical and said that when exposed to heat and UV light, the compound breaks down into smaller, possibly harmful chemicals like bromine. In 2015, PolyFR marked the industry’s leap from banned chemicals to safer alternatives, in line with EU’s REACH Regulation on chemicals. German chemical company BASF in 2014 switched to using PolyFR in its PS-based insulation products from HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) FR, which was then ruled to have persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic characteristics (PBT).

PolyFR enhanced flame resistance of BASF's Neopor insulation products

Dow has refuted this claim against PolyFR, stating that it had conducted extensive testing on the safety profile of PolyFR, including degradation. It said that it “firmly believes this technology is a step in the right direction to improve the sustainability” of FRs used in PS foam insulation. The company also commented that conclusions regarding the safety performance of the FR “should only be drawn by studying conditions that are fully relevant to the application itself”.



Though EHN has since updated its story, it still states that PolyFR is a “regrettable substitution”. Lead German researcher Christoph Koch has also since published a separate study that concludes “rather limited” acute toxicity. But even with Dow’s explanation, the publication of the study has created doubt in the minds of many. Progressing in recyclability of FRs Meanwhile, another issue remains on FRs safe degradation. A study by a team of environmental scientists from the University of Massachusetts may have just found a solution that is “technically simple and environmentally friendly” to break down these chemicals into “harmless” compounds. The study has, for the first time, used a dynamic, two-step process to completely degrade a common FR chemical tetrabromobisohenol A (TBBPA), a brominated compound, to carbon dioxide and water in water treatment systems and in the natural environment, using a special material called sulphidated nanoscale zerovalent iron (S-nZVI). The new method is an advancement from the usual reduction or oxidation approach to remove TBBPA and other organic refractory compounds that are difficult to degrade. TBBPA, which is added in finished articles, including computer circuit boards and other electrical devices, papers, textiles and plastics, is regarded as a PBT. It is also suspected as carcinogenic and hormone disruptor, and has also been detected in the environment, as well as in animals and human milk and plasma. Added benefit to e-waste recycling Plastics and other materials from electrical and electronic device scraps make up the e-waste that is posing challenges to recyclers, either that the materials are hard to recycle or they contain ingredients that break down to environmentally hazardous substances. Tackling this issue of recyclability, the new additive from Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant are fit for reuse while avoiding material performance degradation.

Clariant's Exolit OP 1400 is phosphorus-based and halogenfree additive said to be a better viable option compared to legacy brominated FRs

Additives The Exolit OP 1400 is phosphorus-based and halogenfree additive, said to be a better viable option compared to legacy brominated FRs, according to Clariant. Its use is even more relevant considering the rise in demand for PA66 engineering plastic, driven by industry trends such as miniaturisation in electronic & electrical applications, the shift to more lightweight materials in automotive and by rising mobility demand. Additionally, the Exolit OP maintains UL 94 V-0 rating after recycling of production waste as verified by the German institute Fraunhofer LBF. It confirms that PA6 and PA66 containing Clariant’s Exolit OP maintain the rating also when recycled back into production streams multiple times. This, Clariant said, is advantageous both for the environment and manufacturers who are keen to increase their use of production waste and postuse recyclate in electrical, electronic and automotive applications. Another advantage is that Exolit OP is not subject to Ecodesign application restrictions as outlined in the EcoDesign Directive (2009/125/EC), a European framework that aims to achieve the EU’s 2020 sustainability targets and provides criteria for electronic displays that exclude halogenated FRs. Picking out the real deal FR In a related development, Clariant says it is safeguarding its patent position in phosphinate-based FRs against what it says are infringers. The company’s worldwide intellectual property position related to phosphinate FR products has not deterred some polymer compounders and OEMs from obtaining a class of halogen-free FRs, diethylphosphinate alu-minium salt (DEPAL)-based FRs, from local Chinese suppliers. These FRs, often combined with nitrogen containing and inorganic synergists, have become workhorses in engineering thermoplastics, mainly glass-filled nylons and polyesters, but also epoxy resins, Clariant said. It furthered that it has been developing and advancing this technology for over two decades, so that its patented Exolit OP FRs “have become the benchmark in quality and performance for phosphinate FRs in the market”. Clariant adds that it has more than 500 individual patents or patent applications globally, including in China, Japan, Germany, France, and the US, for phosphinate-based FRs, related polymer compositions and polymer products such as e.g., plug connectors, circuit boards, encapsulating compounds, power plugs, LED housings, capacitor housings, charging cables for mobile phones, and engine covers. New launches at the K2019 show With standards in fire safety being raised across the globe, demand for FRs is anticipated to increase and may even surpass forecast values. By 2022, the FR market is projected to corner US$10 million, according to a report by Allied Market Research, which adds that leading market players are introducing more advanced additives to cater to the demand of end users, and for a range of applications.

BYK will highlight its latest additive for FR compounds at K2019

Thus, new additions are being rolled out. German additives supplier BYK is offering an organophilic sheet silicate for use in thermoplastics such as nylons. To be showcased at the upcoming K2019 show in October, BYKMax CT 4260 is the first product from the new group of thermoplastic additives launched on the market under the BYK-Max trade name. It is especially suitable for use with halogen-free FR thermoplastic compounds, since incorporating the additive improves not only the FR properties but also the dropping behaviour and crust formation, BYK said. In return this new specialised additive also enables the filler content, e.g., aluminium or magnesium hydroxide, to be reduced. This leads to a significant improvement in the process and physical properties and to a reduction in the overall weight, adds BYK. Also debuting its latest family of FR synergists at the German show is South Korean specialty chemicals company Songwon. Its new FRs are based on a proprietary technology designed to combine high performance with safety and sustainability, said the company. As the second largest manufacturer of polymer stabilisers in the world, Songwon will also be promoting its Sabo Stab UV216 light stabiliser system developed for agricultural applications by its long-time partner Sabo, an Italian manufacturer of hindered amine light stabilisers (HALS). Thus, it can be seen that creating a new league of FRs that are non-toxic and not open to IP infringement still remains a challenge for the industry.

In 2018, Songwon introduced ten new products and is set to launch at K2019 an entirely new family of FR synergists based on a proprietary technology



Country Focus

Thai show to target plastics growth


hailand, home to 69 million people, the region's major exporter and industrial centre has gone all out to build up its first world nation targets with the Thailand 4.0 economic model. Ten priority industries are being groomed as highly potential new growth industries for Thailand: next generation automotive, smart electronics, wellness tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, food processing, robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuels and biochemicals, medical, and digital. Meanwhile, Thailand's plastics industry has seen its plastics production companies grow to 5,000-strong, with plastics registered as among Thailand's top five exports to the rest of the world. In recent years, Thailand has also invested more than US$60 million in bioplastics development, while the packaging market is slated for a CAGR of 4.2% and estimated to grow from 51 million units in 2017 to 63 million units in 2022. Supporting this thrust of Thailand to accelerate its global competitiveness as Asia's strategic gateway to the region's trade and investment boon, T-Plas 2019, the international trade fair for the plastics and rubber industries, will tap into the vibrant marketplace of Thailand. Making its debut at T-Plas 2019 is the Medical Plastics Zone, a dedicated platform to showcase a range of innovative components, processing machineries and products and equipment catered to the medical industry. This edition will also feature a dedicated raw materials zone to showcase a range of innovative components, processing machineries and products and equipment catered to the raw materials industry. Co-locating with T-Plas 2019 is Pack Print International 2019, making its seventh presentation. Organised by Messe DĂźsseldorf Asia, T-Plas 2019 will be held from 18-21 September at BITEC, Bangkok, Thailand.



Kraiburg will focus on TPEs for the automotive and consumer sectors

TPEs for the automotive/consumer sectors The current automotive trend for safe and comfortable driving, increased fuel efficiency, and reduced carbon emissions, especially in the production of electric vehicles and green cars, prefaces demand for innovative materials, such as thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) that offer light weighting, design flexibility, and improved indoor air quality. At T-Plas, Germany’s Kraiburg TPE is highlighting its new TPE compounds for interior, exterior, and under-the-hood automotive applications. For interiors, the company offers its FG/SF Thermolast K series, which features low-emission, low-odour, and UV-resistant compounds that are easy to process as well as enable comfort and improve interior air quality. These compounds satisfy the market criteria for VOCs and SVOCs. When used in automotive interiors, TPEs assure surfaces that are attractive and feel good to touch. They improve soft-touch elements as well as reduce annoying rattling and creaking noises when used for damping elements. As well, the low-emission TPE solutions meet high OEM requirements for automotive interior applications for e.g floor mats, gearshifts, thumb wheels and more.

Country Focus For exteriors, the newly innovated lightweight TPE, which focuses on low density to enhance the performance of the end product and promote energy savings, is suited for a range of applications in the automotive sector. In addition to their excellent weather resistance and UV resistance, our TPEs that are specially developed for automotive exterior applications also feature extremely good, costeffective processing. Our TPEs enable you to create visually attractive and high-quality surfaces for your applications. Applications include window sealing systems, covers for A/B/C pillars, roof railing base pads and more. In powertrain applications, the TPEs offer an economical option. Kraiburg says its compounds that have been specially developed for the automotive industry can be cost-effectively processed in multi-component injection moulding. They exhibit optimal long-term stability when exposed to high temperatures and when in contact with motor oils and greases. Applications include molting elements, grommets, timing belt covers, E-box gaskets, battery seals and more. For packaging, Kraiburg’s solutions enable smooth, scratch and impact-resistant surfaces; properties that are needed in various end-product applications in the consumer, cosmetic, food packaging and toy industries. In terms of safety, shoring up Kraiburg’s commitment to customer satisfaction and well-being, its TPE products comply with global regulations and standards, including the EU (No 10/2011), and the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 21, EN 71/ 3. The TPE compounds also adhere to the GuoBiao (GB) 48062016 standard in China. Machinery company expands in Thailand Taking advantage of the growth of the sector in Thailand, Germanyheadquartered injection moulding machine builder Arburg recently opened its new premises in Samutprakarn. Having been in Thailand since 2001, the family-owned machinery maker felt that it was time to have new premises. "We are very proud to have the largest Arburg showroom in Southeast Asia because of the new premises. This enables us to offer our customers in Thailand optimum support and even better service," said Ratree Boonsay, who

has successfully managed the subsidiary since its foundation in 2001. “Our continuous investments in the important Asian market have paid off," Andrea Carta commented on behalf of the entire parent company, thanking the customers and the Arburg team in Thailand. Since late 1992, the Thai market had initially been managed by a representative office of Arburg Singapore. Ratree Boonsay took over the management of the newly founded subsidiary in 2001 and successfully established and expanded it together with her team. Along with the opening, Arburg showcased its Allrounder injection moulding machines "live" with two packaging applications. A hybrid Allrounder 570 H with a clamping force of 2,000 KN produced two 500-millilitre containers in a cycle time of around six seconds. The second exhibit, an electric Allrounder 470 E Golden Electric with a clamping force of 1,000 kN, produced two stacking boxes in a cycle time of around 18 seconds. A linear Multilift Select robotic system was used for handling of the moulded parts weighing 63.8 g each. With 705 sq m, the new premises offer ample space for the presentation of machines, customer trials and training courses. The spare parts warehouse has grown as well, this allows even more spare parts to be delivered directly, said Arburg. Arburg’s product portfolio encompasses Allrounder injection moulding machines with clamping forces of between 125 and 6,500 kN, the Freeformer for industrial additive manufacturing and robotic systems, customer and industry-specific turnkey solutions and further peripheral equipment.

From right: Andrea Carta, Arburg Director of Overseas Sales, together with Ratree Boonsay, Managing Director Arburg Thailand and Alexander Raubold, Counsellor Economic and Commercial Affairs of the German embassy in Bangkok, officially opened Arburg’s new premises in Samutprakarn



Country Focus

Southeast Asia: a wild card in the global plastics industry The Asian region is buckling down on major trends and issues to achieve a future “perfect” economic growth, which will have a ripple effect on the plastics industry. In a preview to K2019, in Düsseldorf, Germany, from 16-23 October, the Asian plastics industry is dissected into sectors to identify market growths and challenges in the region (updated information is provided).




ith the world economies on a roller coaster ride, sluggish trade growth is expected on the heels of further trade restrictions and policy uncertainties. According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), the global economy is likely to expand from 3.3% in 2019 to 3.4% in 2020, down from the 3.5% it had projected for both years last year. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its 2019 economic growth forecast for China to 6.2% from 6.3%, and 6% in 2020, due to the US/Sino trade war. India’s economy is to spiral downwards with growth at 7% in 2019, picking up to 7.2% in 2020, says the IMF. Bracing for further headwinds in the months to come, mature economies are pointing their compasses towards the Southeast Asian countries, even against the Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecast of a slowdown in five countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – with growth falling slightly to 4.8% in 2019, from 5% in 2018. Key external factors affecting this include the global trade war and tightening monetary policy in the US. As a single market, Southeast Asia highlights its competence as a frontier for automotive, packaging, construction and medical devices sectors. The region is also embracing salient issues relating to fuel efficiency, through development of its electric vehicle industry; plastics waste reduction through a recycling infrastructure; and adoption of smart manufacturing via Industry 4.0 initiatives. Southeast Asia’s plastics market is expected to register a CAGR of 5.5% from 2018-2023, according to Mordor Intelligence. Construction and packaging industries are the major consumers of plastics in the region, as are film/sheet applications. Meanwhile, Mordor Intelligence also says that the engineering plastics market in AsiaPacific was 25.4 million tonnes in 2017, with a healthy growth rate of 5.7% expected over the forecast period of 2018-2023. PET resins are expected to dominate the segment, with a 51% share and a growth of 6.6% over the next five years. Flaunting its automotive base assets To remain competitive, Southeast Asia needs to measure up with the global automotive demand. The region produced over 4 million vehicles in 2018, and averaged a 7.6% growth in production and sales, from January-November 2018, according to the ASEAN Automotive Federation (AAF). Thailand the region’s largest producer of vehicles (commercial and passenger vehicles), takes the lead, having produced 2.16 million units in 2018, up by 9% from the previous year. For 2018, full year vehicle sales in Thailand increased 19.2% year-on-year to 1 million units. However, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) forecasts that vehicle production in Thailand is expected to decrease slightly to 2.15 million units in 2019. The country, dubbed as the Detroit of Asia, remains a manufacturing haven for global automobile makers including Toyota, Ford, Honda, BMW, Mercedes and more, which have set up factories in Thailand. Second in rank in production is Indonesia, which produced over 1.24 million units, up 9.9% from 1.13 million units a year ago, according to the AAF data. As well, Indonesia remains the largest market for vehicles in 2018, having sold 1.06 million units in the 11 months to November, up 6.9% from 994,436 units over the same period a year ago. Meanwhile car producing Malaysia, saw a drop of 8.7% from the 54,776 vehicles recorded in March this year, according to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA). But the year-to-date total industry volume sales numbers for the first four months of 2019 stands at 193,028 units, which is 5.9% higher than the same period (January-April) in 2018.

Country Focus Plugging into electric vehicles or EVs Sales of electric cars are increasing around the world, surpassing 1.2 million for the first time in 2018, and more than 1.6 million EVs expected to be sold worldwide by the end of the year, according to the Frost & Sullivan Global Electric Vehicle Market Outlook for 2018. While China, the US and Europe account for around 90% of all electric car sales in the world, Japan and South Korea are also major players, with China cornering half of global production in 2017, followed by Europe and the US with 21%, and 17%, respectively; and Japan and South Korea representing 8% and 3%, respectively. Southeast Asia, where vehicle, industrial and biomass burning are main reasons for degrading air quality, is also progressing towards low carbon transport. A 2018 study by Frost & Sullivan and Nissan, covering Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, says though EV uptake remains comparatively low, consumers are aware of the differences in various EV technologies such as battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and full hybrid. It also said EVs are gaining popularity among young individuals below the age of 40. When British technology firm Dyson picked Singapore as the location for its multi-billion dollar electric car project, to roll out its first EVs by 2021, it came as a surprise since almost 90% of vehicles are petrol-based in Singapore. According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), as of last year, 357 cars were petrol-electric plug-ins while 466 were pure electric, of the 614,937 cars registered in Singapore. Nevertheless, the country is one of a few in the world with both an electric car-sharing scheme and an electric taxi fleet and it is also expected that 60 electric buses will ply public bus routes by 2020, according to the LTA. Elsewhere, the “Big 3” – Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, have formed respective EV roadmaps to build an integrated EV ecosystem to support private investments across the value chain. Under its “Electric Vehicle Promotion Plan”, part of the Thailand Alternative Energy Development Plan 20122021, Thailand has progressed from having 60,000 hybrid passenger cars and 8,000 battery electric motorcycles in 2014 to 102,000 hybrid cars and 1,400 battery electric vehicles in 2018, according to the Land Transport Department. Indonesia has delved deeper into the issue of adoption, pushing its goal for 20% of all locally manufactured cars to be electric by 2025. It is targeting 2.1 million units of two-wheeler EVs like e-motorcycles and 2,200 units of four-wheeler vehicles by 2025. Investments are rife and recent developments include South Korea’s Hyundai setting up a 250,000-unit/year EV plant in Cikarang Industrial Complex; and a consortium of investors from South Korea, Japan and China building a US$4 billion EV battery plant in Morowali to tap into Indonesia’s abundant nickel laterite reserves, a key ingredient in lithium ion batteries. The country is also finalising a policy that offers fiscal incentives to EV battery producers and car makers, as well as tariff agreements with countries that have high EV demand.

Under its National Green Technology Master Plan and the Electric Mobility Blueprint (EMB), Malaysia envisages by 2030, it will have 100,000 electric cars on the road, along with 2,000 electric buses and 125,000 charging stations, says the Malaysian Investment Development Authority. In the Philippines, the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) set a target in 2014 to have 1 million EVs on roads by 2020, while the Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) collaborated with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to introduce e-tricycles (e-trikes) powered by lithium-ion battery technology. As of 2018, around 1,400 e-jeepneys and e-trikes ply the roads, according to the Department of Trade and Industry’s Board of Investments, along with charging stations in 19 locations. EVAP envisions 200 of these in place by 2022. In predominantly two-wheeler Vietnam, its first car manufacturer Vinfast expects to produce 250,000 e-motorcycles/year and is planning to release its own electric car in the near future. Still, the region has to tackle the slow take-up rate of EVs due to unattractive incentives, higher prices of EVs, compared to petrol engine equivalents, and lack of availability of charging infrastructure, with the Frost & Sullivan findings indicating that governments have a critical role to play in promoting EV usage. Top scorers in packaging The Asian flexible packaging market is poised to reach a CAGR of 5.7% to US$6.7 billion from 2016-2024, according to a Transparency Market Research (TMR) sector forecast, driven by growth and increasing disposable incomes. Thailand, touted as the “Kitchen of the World” for drawing importance on its food and agriculture sectors, has one of Asia’s most advanced food processing segment, with more than 10,000 food-and-beverage processing factories. Its third largest sector, it accounts for over 20% of the country’s GDP. The Thai packaging industry is expected to grow to 63.1 trillion units in 2020 from 51.3 trillion units in 2017, registering a CAGR of 4.2%, says Global Data research. Packaging that offers greater functionality such as on-thego, sustainable or personalised packs are forecast to rake in higher demand in the longer term, as is rigid plastics with the highest market share gainer and growth of 4.5% during 2017-2022. Indonesia is, likewise, predicted to lead in the flexible packaging market in the region, with food packaging accounting for 70% of plastic consumption, according to TMR. Food and beverage sales are among key drivers to Indonesia’s strong retail sales growth averaging 3.7% year-on-year based on the December 2018 data of Bank Indonesia. This backs the growth of the Indonesian plastics market, forecast to witness a CAGR of 6.23% in a Mordor Intelligence report spanning 2018-2023. The emerging trend of busy, fast-paced lifestyles in Indonesia’s flourishing urbanisation is driving the demand for smaller, convenient, on-the-go packs, and other packaging types, according to Global Data, which also alludes to rising environment awareness among consumers as a key factor in thriving demand for eco-friendly packaging formats. SEPTEMBER 2019


Country Focus Flexible packaging holds a broad usage in Indonesia’s food industry, owing to its low cost, flexibility to suit multiple shapes and sizes, convenience, and low-carbon foot print. Flexible packaging occupied a market share of 42% in 2016, accounting for 42 billion units in 2016, and is forecast to reach 52 billion units in 2021, at a CAGR of 4.3% during 2016-2021. Nevertheless, rigid packaging snapped up a sizeable market share in Indonesia in 2016, accounting for nearly 25% of the market, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.7% by 2021. With over 1,500 plastic production companies, Malaysia’s plastics market is driven by packaging. Citing data from Statista, Malaysia’s food and beverage segment is predicted to earn US$268 million in 2019; and is expected to grow annually at a CAGR of 18% to US$520 million by 2023. In the same trajectory, the pharmaceutical industry is propelling the growth of packaging. Tackling the growing plastic waste issue As Southeast Asia moves on a trajectory path, in its plastics sector growth, sustainability in the industry cannot be achieved without altering the current systems of plastics management and consumption. Already, the five Asian countries of Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia collectively produce 8.9 million tonnes/year of mismanaged plastic waste.

Addressing the environmental impact of handling waste build-up through plastic bag bans, and similar tax-based actions may no longer be as efficient as anticipated. Today, a more expansive approach is sought to incorporate design and enable technologies to maximise the value of materials. Bringing into the fold is the circular economy model that aims to curb wastage through reuse of materials as well as recyclability of materials in major sectors (automotive, construction, packaging and others). Meanwhile, targets have been set in the newly formed sustainable framework led by Malaysia-based NGO, Circular Economy Asia (CEA), to consolidate efforts for Asia to tackle its waste leading to a circular economy. CEA’s model includes providing a collection service, support of informal recycling collectors and utilising the tiers they operate within because it is a system that already works well; as well as licensing informal recycling collectors for technology-connected geographical areas, providing the information and data for a range of key solutions. CEA is also lauding the Asian Plastics & Packaging Agreement (APPA), a programme that seeks to establish a common recycling labelling system. Finally, CEA says that if policy makers embrace the circular economy now, it is expected to come full circle for Asia in 2050, through the elimination of landfilling with the diversion of recyclable resources for reprocessing and with the production of 100% of recyclable plastics.


Mechanical engineering can make a huge contribution In the run-up to the K2019 show that will be focused on the circular economy, and as part of the continuing series of interviews with industry majors by German plastics machinery association VDMA, Peter Steinbeck, CSO of German extrusion machinery company Windmöller & Hölscher, gives his views on the circular economy. 24



ith plastics having been publicly discredited, machine manufacturers, as part of the value-added chain, are also concerned by the bad image. Steinbeck says, “As machine manufacturers, we are also shocked when we see pictures of oceans littered with plastics, and naturally we are in favour of environmental protection.” But he also adds that despite the challenges, the “great” benefits of plastics, in particular those of flexible packaging, are not too be ignored. “Our industry is jointly required to further develop plastics in its various fields of application, to face the challenges and to enhance the strengths,” he adds. In the following interview, Steinbeck says brand owners can accelerate the process towards circular economy, with new solutions for more easily recyclable products. How should the waste problem be tackled? Steinbeck: We see this as a two-part task. On the one hand, we must try to distinctly increase the recycling shares in developed

Recycling markets. Political regulation above all within the EU is definitely useful because it provides a secure framework. In terms of technology, efficiency, functionality and recyclability must be compatible. On the other hand, those countries must be supported that do not have functional waste managements and are therefore responsible for the pollution of oceans. We must help them introduce collection systems and also recognise plastics as recyclable material that can be used repeatedly. What possibilities does a German machine manufacturer have to influence those countries that have no collection systems at all. Steinbeck: I think that the German and European mechanical engineering sector is very well positioned and that we can present solutions that not only enable resource-friendly manufacture of plastics but also recycling. Moreover, we already have solutions for comprehensive waste management. And we can show that all this is already working well here in Germany and in Northern Europe. These solutions can be perfectly transferred to other countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam or the Philippines, which are still behind in this respect. Circular economy is a topic that is by all means present outside Europe, for example in China. At this year's Chinaplas, there was a conference on the topic of circular economy. What was your impression? Steinbeck: I have the impression that the topic circular economy is already taking root in the minds of Chinese people. This was clearly noticeable at the conference. Brand owners make a large contribution by prescribing recycling shares or by demanding recyclability of packaging from suppliers. This will speed up the process. If there are regulations for recycling, there must be markets and infrastructures for recycled materials – also in the food sector. This is certainly a great challenge, but here the German mechanical engineering industry as a technology leader can already make its contribution. What is important is

this: Plastics have value even beyond the useful life of their first application. Apart from circular economy, the issue is currently also about reducing the consumption of plastics, for example for packaging. Will you as a manufacturer of machines for flexible packaging lose business? Steinbeck: This is a concern we do not have. Our customers and we ourselves have been aiming at using as little material as possible for years, using film as thin as possible and wrapping solutions for flexible packaging which is as resource-friendly as possible. We also think that not everything must be wrapped. But the problem in the food sector is that around one-third of all food produced worldwide deteriorates because of bad packaging. You have to decide on a case-by-case basis what is best, throughout the whole process at that. If a cucumber picked by the local farmer goes to the market and is bought by the customer on the same day, everything is fine. In that case we would be the last ones to say the cucumber should be wrapped. But if you buy vegetables from Spain and a large part of it goes bad before consumption, rejecting plastic packaging will not be a good solution. Packaging film can be furnished with many properties, for example it provides a barrier for protecting food and making it last longer. But those multi-layer films are more difficult to recycle because they consist of different types of plastics. How can you solve this paradox? Steinbeck: You have to ask yourself has technology reached the end of its development and has everything been invented that can be invented in this field? That is certainly not the case. There are already now compositions of mono-material that are better recyclable and that have the same barrier function that multi-layer films have. At K2019, these and other solutions will be introduced. Apart from mono-materials there will be materials allowing better dissolution of compound structures. We also have the possibility today to re-use compound structures at least for certain end products. And there is chemical recycling whereby practically all plastic waste is boiled up into a kind of primordial soup to be restructured into new plastics chains. This development is still in its infancy. We are convinced that strict regulations for recycling of plastics products would give the current innovation boost a concentrated direction, so that further solutions could be found. SEPTEMBER 2019



Thermoforming sector in a boom phase The global thermoformed packaging sector is expected to grow at a steady CAGR of 6.3%, says research firm Transparency Market Research (TMR), during the forecast period of 2019-2024. Meanwhile, CMT Materials, GN Thermforming and Kiefel will present new materials/ machinery at the K2019 show in October.


he thermoformed packaging market is also projected to reach a valuation of US$57.61 billion by the end of 2024. In 2018, the global thermoforming packaging market was valued at over US$45 billion, says TMR. In the report, titled “Thermoforming Packaging Market: Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2019-2027,� TMR states that the massive demand from food and pharmaceutical industries is anticipated to expand the global thermoforming packaging market by 1.7 times during the forecast period. It also states that the packaging industry is estimated to account for around 80% in terms of market value and is projected to show fast-paced growth owing to the high demand. A number of factors are pushing the growth, against the back of an expanding urban population in emerging economies, with a penchant for packaged food products. The thermoformed packaging market is segmented into clamshell, blister, skin, tubs, and cups. Among these, the blister packaging segment is expected to outgrow other segments, due to its high demand in the pharmaceuticals industry. Pharmaceutical packaging has applications in pharmaceuticals for diverse purposes including carrying, storing, and shipping of medicines, medical devices, as well as drug dispensing systems. Thermoforming packaging products including blister packs have emerged as key packaging solutions to carry, organize, and ship medical devices and components through specific design specifications.

Thermoforming packaging has emerged as a key packaging solution for the growing food industry

On the regional front, Asia Pacific and North America are two key regions driving demand in the market. Presence of leading players in North America and increasing demand for packaged food and beverages in Asia Pacific are the key growth factor boosting demand, especially driven by increasing demand for packaged food and beverage products by the urban populations in the emerging economies of China, India, and South Korea. New technologies to aid growth Against the back of strong growth for copolymer and thermoplastic plug materials as the global plastics packaging market continues to grow, US-based CMT Materials, a provider of plug-assist materials for the thermoforming industry, will showcase its range of Hytac syntactic foams at K2019 in DĂźsseldorf, Germany, from 16-23 October 2019.



Thermoforming CMT’s Hytac XTL syntactic foam was developed to offer an improved surface quality after machining, especially when working with sticky or transparent plastics

It will highlight the Hytac C1R and Hytac XTL, which have enjoyed strong market acceptance, said the company, adding that data-driven studies on the economic impact of plug material selection show that consistency and repeatability can be achieved in thermoforming,. In particular, Hytac plug assists play a key role by helping processors manage wall thickness variation, reduce starting gauge and improve cycle times. The company notes that the increased growth is largely focused in food packaging applications in Europe and Asia, with material shifts away from PS to PP and new, multilayer films and adds that these more complex polymers require more sophisticated plug assists. “In some cases, there is a requirement for higher friction, in others it’s easier release, and in still others it is for new tougher thermoplastic syntactics,” it adds. In the latter category, the company’s new syntactic foam offers twice the toughness of B1X and features a new cellular structure that yields a smoother surface, adding that the unbreakable plug doesn’t scratch soft plastics. The main trends driving demand for these technologies are the growing popularity of ready-to-eat meals, changing consumer habits and increasing disposable income in emerging Asian economies. North American processors also show continued growth in sectors such as large bakery items, tamper-evident clamshells and medical device packages. The Hytac XTL plug assist is the industry’s first and only material to combine the machined surface quality of epoxy syntactic with the durability and dust-free machining of thermoplastic syntactic foam. This is particularly important when working with sticky or transparent plastics because of the challenge of polishing thermoplastic syntactic materials. A significant side benefit of the formulation is increased toughness, allowing for very fine plug details, noted CMT. It is suited for use with PP, PET, PE, APET, CPET, HIPS, OPS, PETG, PLA, PS, PVC and RPET. Also featured at K2019 is CMT’s Hytac CR, a copolymer plug assist formulated with friction enhancer to carry plastic deep into a cavity or specialty detail. Hytac C1R provides three to four times the toughness of epoxy-based syntactic foam. Elsewhere, Canadian manufacturer of servo-driven thermoforming machines GN Thermoforming Equipment has developed a new form-cut-stack thermoformer that targets low to medium-volume packaging production for the food, medical and industrial markets.

The new GN580 thermoformer is a smaller version of its successful GN800 launched at K2016 and will be displayed at K2019. The first GN580 machine was sold to a European packaging manufacturer early this year. The company says it offers the same features as the GN800, with integrated steel rule cutting press and stacking station, suitable for all thermoformable materials. Other features are the high degree of automation as well as ease of tool change.

At K2019, GN’s new GN580 will run 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) PET with a common-edge tool, producing meat trays with minimal scrap. The machine to be exhibited has already been sold to a Central European packaging manufacturer for the production of food trays and blister packs,according to GN

Meanwhile, Germany-based Kiefel will launch its new generation steel rule pressure forming machine, Speedformer KMD 78.2, at K2019. Featuring “intuitive” user guidance for easy operation, the machine is said to deliver higher productivity, process control and availability compared to its predecessors, according to Kiefel. The user guidance offers pictograms and graphics, making the adjustment of machine parameters and fault diagnosis easier. The display shows the entire forming process and other important processes at a glance, with Kiefel adding that this makes the complete process easy to understand, even for non-experts. In addition, the machine offers 20% higher heating capacity and lower energy and materials consumption rates compared to previous models. The machine also boasts short set-up times, thanks to previously installed algorithms, allowing for significantly increased up-time compared to the previous models, adds Kiefel. A newly developed film feed table guides the film to the film transport system, while an optimised forming air vacuum system enables customers to produce improved parts. The ergonomic tool change systems can also significantly shorten set-up times. “Ergonomics and data transparency are a matter of course. And of course, in addition to common materials and products, our new system can also process novel film materials and produce even complex products whilst consuming a minimal amount of energy," says Erwin Wabnig, Director Packaging Division at Kiefel.

Kiefel says that operators, even without specific training, can operate its latest model intuitively SEPTEMBER 2019



Less plastics, the holy grail for eco-friendly packaging Seen as a plausible solution to remedy the plastic waste crisis, reducing plastics is the approach the packaging sector is taking, says Angelica Buan in this article.


lastics production is continuous and yearly, about 300 million of plastics are produced worldwide. At the same time, plastics accounted for almost 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2015, and the amount of plastics in the waste stream is projected to increase as consumption for the material increases. Some experts declared that the traditional plastics’ “design failure” results in the accumulation of hard-to-recycle and non-degradable plastics in the waste stream; while others attribute the ambit of plastics pollution to the lackadaisical attitude of plastics and chemical industries in resolving this. A report published in 2018 by US-based Center for International Environmental Law cited that plastics producers, together with resin producers and chemical/petroleum businesses that provide feedstocks, have long known about the ocean plastic problem, yet have maintained an exclusive stance on the matter. “Plastics producers have often taken the position that they are only responsible for plastic waste in the form of resin pellets, and that other forms of plastic waste are out of their control,” said the report. Meanwhile, according to researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in a recent study on plastics’ carbon footprint, and which they say as the first global assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from plastics, global demand for plastics could grow by 22% over the next five years. Therefore, in order to break even, emissions must be slashed by 18%. At the current rate, emissions from plastics will reach 17% of the global carbon budget by 2050, the report furthered. To help curb rising emissions is to reduce demand for plastics, which as statistics have shown has not resulted favourably as expected. For example, the plastic bag ban has already run its course, with plastic alternatives that are claimed to biodegrade faster but are more costly to produce have yet to keep up at conventional plastics’ adoption rates. Recycling is a straightforward solution, however, this too has yet to deliver the targeted numbers. Based on findings from the Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made report by the University of California, over 90% of plastics were not recycled in 2015. Thus, using fewer plastics and increasing post-consumer recycled content are attainable strategies, especially in packaging, plastics’ largest market that has continued to grow against the back of rising demand for single-use containers for food, beverage, and consumer products.

Innovia has produced a high barrier BOPP film that offers a wide seal and hot tack range



Recyclable-certified mono-structure films in the market By design, plastic films are already environmentally-friendly because it takes less energy to produce and the films occupy less space in storage and shipping and thus reduce logistical environment impact. Many films are also recyclable and more innovations in films are expected to be launched to comply with recycling standards. One such development comes from UK-headquartered manufacturer of biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) films Innovia Films that has snagged the “Made for Recycling” qualification for its newly launched high barrier BOPP film. The company worked with Interseroh, an independent German recycling and consulting company, to have its Propafilm Strata SL film evaluated. Interseroh analyse and evaluate the packaging based on sound criteria along with the entire after-life processes (collection, sorting, recycling and processing).

Packaging The result is a scale that determines whether the packaging is non-recyclable through to very good. The Strata BOPP film obtained a “very good” rating. According to Innovia Films, due to the mono structure of the film it performs much better in recycling than composite films and can be added to the PP-closed loop system. Other attributes are its barrier to aroma, mineral oils and oxygen even at relative humidity levels, ensuring increased shelf life. It is glossy, food contactcompliant and chlorine-free. Additionally, the film is suitable for use in a range of markets, is printable and offers a wide seal and hot tack range. Along that vein, a fully recyclable packing film for fresh and processed food has been developed by Austrian paper and packaging company Mondi. The recyclable PP film is ideal for the thermoforming of flexible films for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum packaging, which is known for its ability to extend the shelf life of products such as meat and cheese. The new, coextruded material includes a top and bottom web, with an internal barrier layer that comprises less than 5% of the entire structure, meaning it qualifies as a mono-material construction and is fully recyclable in existing waste streams. Mondi developed a recyclable PP film for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum packaging of fresh and processed foods

Germany-based Institut cyclos-HTP (Institute for Recyclability and Product Responsibility) has independently certified the film structure to have the highest qualification “Class AAA” in recyclability. Previous multi-material construction rendered the previous packaging unrecyclable and also resulted in a much higher carbon footprint as confirmed by life cycle analyses. The new film represents a 23% reduction in carbon footprint compared to existing conventional packaging, Mondi said. Likewise, English chemicals manufacturer Birch Chemicals (formerly Innovo) is embarking on an effort to reduce its plastic usage by 6.8 tonnes/year. Recently, it partnered with UK packaging supplier Kite to carry out a stretch wrap audit on site with one of Kite’s load retention specialists. The result was the implementation of a brand new stronger, more efficient and thinner film applied using one of Kite’s Robopac wrapping machines.

This will save the equivalent of 566,667 plastic bottles in packaging and reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking seven family-sized diesel cars off the road, according to Birch, which is also known for its Masterox range of plastic desiccants used in thin film and other plastics applications, including recycling. More recycled content, shift to aluminium Beverage giant PepsiCo has innovated its packaging by using recycled plastic and in a recent bid to use less plastic, shifted to using aluminium cans for certain brands.

PepsiCo shifted to non-plastic packaging for its Aquafina water brand

To be trialled in the market is the new non-plastic packaging for the Aquafina water brand, which will be offered in aluminium cans in the US. The changes, which will take effect next year, are expected to eliminate more than 8,000 tonnes of virgin plastic and approximately 11,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The move underscores PepsiCo's goals to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable and use 25% recycled plastic content in all its plastic packaging by 2025. The company is one of the largest users of foodgrade recycled PET in the world. It has partnered with The Recycling Partnership, Loop Industries, Alliance to End Plastic Waste, and World Economic Forum's Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) to both increase recycling rates and improve the plastic recycling infrastructure. In a related development, compatriot beverage firm Coca Cola Company’s Dasani water brand is to be offered in the HybridBottle, which contains up to 50% plant-based renewable and recycled PET materials (PlantBottle and recycled PET plastic), and in aluminium cans. The 20-oz bottles and the aluminium can formats, which will be available in the US in 2020, represent Coca Cola’s goal of reducing plastics and incorporating up to 50% recycled materials in its packaging by 2030. Dasani, which in 2018 also pioneered the Purefill package-less water dispensing unit, plans to remove the equivalent of 1 billion virgin PET bottles from its US supply chain over the next five years.

Packaging Sustainable packaging brewing for beers Recyclable packaging is also catching up on the glass-bottled alcoholic beverages market. Today, beer can come in packaging formats like PET that mimics the look of glass and flexible pouches, which are less space consuming, easier and safer to transport, and are recyclable. Australian packaging company Amcor has developed the first PET bottle for pasteurised beer in Brazil. The company custom-designed 600 ml containers for São Paulo-based beverage maker New Age Bebidas for its Salzburg craft beer brand. It features a glass-like, champagne-style base combined with the convenience of lightweight and shatter-resistant PET. It also features a crown metal cap replicating the standard glass bottle.

Diageo has invested £16 million to reduce the amount of plastic packaging in its beer brands including Guinness

Diageo says it is on track with its targets and from 2025 will use plastics that allow for increased consumer recycling rates; make its plastic use fully recyclable (or reusable/compostable) and achieve an average 40% recycled content in its plastic bottles, with a target of 100% by 2030.

Amcor has developed a PET bottle for the Salzburg beer

According to Amcor, the PET bottles offer design advantages over glass while being lighter in weight, more easily and safely portable and unbreakable, as well as providing the required barrier protection. Amcor uses an oxygen scavenger barrier additive to prevent oxygen ingress and egress, providing up to four months of shelf life. The PET bottle is compatible with existing recycling streams and is 100% recyclable. It also significantly reduces transportation costs, and energy and carbon emission reductions along the supply chain. Likewise, British alcoholic beverage company Diageo has eliminated the plastic packaging from its beer brands, including Guinness, Harp and Smithwick’s. The company reportedly invested £16 million to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that translates to removing an equivalent of 40 million 50 cl plastic bottles from the global waste stream. It will replace plastic shrink wrapping and ring carriers on its beer multipacks with what it says are recyclable and biodegradable cardboard packaging.



Sustainability in the game plan Elsewhere, American toy company Hasbro, known for the iconic Power Rangers series, is completely phasing out plastic from its packaging by 2022. Starting next year, the Rhode Island-based company will be terminating bags, shrink wrapping, window sheets and blister packs. Meanwhile, it has already started using its new plant-based PET for blister packs and plastic windows in its product packaging. The company has outlined its sustainable plans, which it hopes to achieve through 2025 across its facilities, including reducing GHG emissions by 20%, and halving waste to landfills, as well as reducing water and energy consumption by 15% and 20%, respectively. A year ago, the company also launched a toy and game recycling pilot programme with recycling company TerraCycle to recycle used Hasbro toys sent by consumers into materials that can be used in the construction of play spaces, flower pots, park benches, and other innovative uses. Hasbro, resonating with the global move to reduce the ecological footprint from packaging, proves that the issue of plastic pollution is no child’s play.

Hasbro is completely phasing out plastic from its packaging by 2022, likewise teaming up with Terracycle to upcycle old toys

Injection Moulding Asia Consumer Electronics

LCPs take up the challenge for speed Liquid crystal polymers (LCPs), which exhibit

Most commercial LCPs are aromatic polyesters characterised by high thermal and mechanical performance, inherent flame retardancy, good weatherability, excellent electrical properties1, high resistance to stress cracking, and chemical inertness. This makes them ideal for use in electrical and electronic components (including fiberoptic cables, PCBs, chip carriers, connectors (conventional, radiofrequency (RF), and fibre-optic), and other surface-mount components), microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), automotive applications (including components for ignition and transmission systems, lamp sockets, pump components, coil forms, and sensors), printer/copier/fax components, cookware, high-barrier/retort-processed food containers, plus components for chemical processing (including pumps, meters, and valves). Commonly processed via injection moulding, LCP parts can be joined via thermoplastic welding techniques, particularly ultrasonic and laser welding. Owing to the highly rigid structure of their molecular chains and their liquid crystalline nature, which tend to be nearly linear and to occupy a stacked orientation that maintains its order regardless of solid or liquid phase, LCPs are highly anisotropic. Essentially, primary bonds within an LCP polymer chain are highly attractive and hard to break, while secondary bonds between molecular chains are weaker and much easier to break. Although most thermoplastics and especially fibre-reinforced thermoplastics exhibit some degree of anisotropy after processing, the moulded properties of LCPs can be significantly different in flow and cross-flow directions3, which requires some care when designing parts and tools for these polymers to take advantage of (and avoid the challenges of) this characteristic. The highly ordered and linear nature of these molecular chains provides LCPs with self-reinforcing properties in the flow direction and contribute to excellent mechanical properties. However, LCP’s high anisotropy also means that weldlines (where flow fronts with different molecular orientations converge) are weaker and thus prone to warpage and thermal-expansion differentials. Because of this, LCPs are typically reinforced with glass fibre and mineral fillers, to reduce anisotropy. LCPs can also can be moulded into large, thickwalled parts. The thermal stability typical of LCPs enables processors to efficiently reuse regrind and recycle reject parts, which again reduces material losses and lowers effective part cost. Demand for lightweight and miniaturised components in the electrical & electronics sector, the largest application segment that already accounted for over 55% of the global volume share in 2018, as well as in the transportation and automotive industries, is driving the global LCP market. It is poised to cross US$174 million by 2025, according to a report by Mordor Intelligence.

tough properties, suit a highly demanding

technology and data-driven era, against the

backdrop of the upcoming 5G and 3D-printing arena, says Angelica Buan in this report.


he human attention span has now shortened to eight seconds from 12 minutes, according to a study. While technology cannot be blamed for how the brain copes with the “fear of missing out� anxiety, one thing is clear: we are living in an era of speed, connectivity and mobility. Electronic appliance and device manufacturers are now competing to deliver not only speed, but also innovations to produce thinner, smaller and more lightweight products.

The emergence of next generation technologies such as the 5G is expected to further boost LCP demand

LCPs in the running for electronics Engineering plastics like liquid crystal polymers (LCPs) meet the requirement for smaller and thinner electrical components, especially for high performance electronic display technologies such as plasma, LCDs (liquid crystal displays), and LEDs (light-emitting diodes). They are also favoured as a substitute for other polymer compounds because of their dielectric nature and conductive properties. LCPs are a family of polymers that produce thermoplastic parts with unique processing characteristics and extremely high performance, so they are commonly used to replace metals, ceramics, and other plastics due to high thermal resistance, excellent flowability, and opportunities for weight or wallstock reductions. 1 SEPTEMBER 2019

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Injection Moulding Asia Consumer Electronics The Japanese chemicals company says it has developed three new grades of LCPs to enable manufacturers to produce connectors and other components that can render high-quality as well as highspeed data transfer without signal loss/decay, distortion, and interference. But there is more to the developments of these new LCPs, which also aim to address other datarelated concerns like data bottlenecks and data integrity. The new SumikaSuper LCP grades are specifically designed for high-speed connectors, including backplanes and automotive connectors for infotainment. SumikaSuper E6205L is a lower dielectric constant polymer that is ideal for connectors requiring higher data transfer speeds. SumikaSuper SR1205L is for connectors that require both a lower dielectric constant as well as a lower dissipation factor (lower loss tangent). Meanwhile, for high-speed digital and wireless devices where electromagnetic interference (EMI) is a concern, owing to its deterioration of signal quality, SumikaSuper SZ6911EM has been specifically designed to provide EMI shielding. This grade incorporates ferromagnetic particles that convert incident EM waves into heat energy, which subsequently can be bled off by thermal management systems. Trends in device miniaturisation (and connector miniaturisation and sub-miniaturisation with requirements for comparable or higher mechanical performance in thinner wallstock), plus use of higher density interconnects have reduced space and increased complexity on printed circuit boards (PCBs), Sumitomo said. Putting so many high-speed, high-frequency interconnects in such close proximity increases transmission loads and along with it crosstalk, which increases the need for connector materials with lower dielectric constants and dissipation factors. “Crosstalk between mobile phones is annoying; crosstalk between autonomous vehicles could prove deadly,� Sumitomo explained. Additionally, it said that high-profile website hacks are a constant reminder of the need to protect data integrity without impacting signal speed. Manufacturers are now continually upgrading connector performance to assure more reliable data transmission with greater clarity and at a faster speed, for which, LCP is suited for, it said.

LCPs meet the requirements for electrical components for connected mobility in automotive

The emergence of next generation technologies such as the 5G (fifth generation network technology) that promises 100 times faster speed than its 4G predecessor; 3D printing, future electronic packaging and Internet of Things (IoT)-related products, to cite a few possible breakthroughs in the near future, is expected to further boost LCP demand. Solutions for thinner, smaller devices Rising interest in connected mobility, smart cities, and video-streaming services is redefining speed in accessing data. Without negating the fancy for miniaturisation, companies like Sumitomo Chemical Advanced Technologies are rolling out new grades of LCP to enable production of smaller components that can deliver higher speed data transfer.

Eco-friendliness: a standard for market growth High-performance, durable materials like LCPs with eco-friendly properties are the hallmark of technological innovations. US materials company Celanese, which manufactures a range of standard and specialty LCP grades, offers Vectra and Zenite LCPs. Both grades are halogen-free polymers that provide high-temperature performance in eco-friendly thin-wall applications with precise and stable dimensions, it says. These highly crystalline, thermotropic

Sumitomo’s SumikaSuper LCPs are used to produce connectors and other components that can render high-quality, high-speed data transfer without signal loss/decay, distortion, and interference


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Injection Moulding Asia Consumer Electronics or a deliberate act, pointing laser beams affects the pilot’s night vision, incapacitating the pilot and thus could cause a fatal accident on flight. As yet, experts have not come up with a single solution to impede all wave lengths of laser light. Notwithstanding that existence of laws that penalise this act may not be enough. Incorporating LCPs into aircraft windshields could provide a vital layer of protection against any colour of bright, focused light. This method, doing away with reengineering the aircraft’s windshield, adds a layer of LCP to the glass that harnesses the existing power system for windshield defrosting. The team, led by researchers from the Lewis University in Illinois, placed a solution of liquid crystals called N-(4-methoxybenzylidene)-4-butylaniline (MBBA) between two 1-sq in. panes of glass. MBBA has a transparent liquid phase and an opaque crystalline phase that scatters light. By applying a voltage to the apparatus, the researchers caused the crystals to align with the electrical field and undergo a phase change to the more solid crystalline state. The researchers found that the aligned crystals blocked up to 95% of red, blue and green beams, through a combination of light scattering, absorption of the laser’s energy and cross-polarisation. The liquid crystals could block lasers of different powers, simulating various distances of illumination, as well as light shone at different angles onto the glass. The next step is to scale up from 1-sq in. to the size of an entire aircraft windshield. The team is also testing different types of liquid crystals to find even more efficient and versatile ones that return to the transparent state more quickly once the laser is removed. With all the technology for it, LCPs’ potential to corner more growth areas may be hampered by the fact that it is more expensive than standard thermoplastics. For now, cost limits its application to niche areas. Nevertheless, that could change soon with new discoveries of methods to produce more cost effective LCPs.

Celanese’s Vectra LCPs are halogen-free polymers that provide high-temperature performance in ecofriendly thin-wall applications with precise and stable dimensions

(melt-orienting) thermoplastics consist of rigid, rod-like macromolecules that are ordered in the melt phase to form liquid crystal structures. Celenese adds that its Vectra LCP Fit50 LCP, with 50% regrind material, has recently received UL approval for flame class V-0 at 0.20-mm thickness. This LCP contains 30% mineral reinforced material and shows flow capability and outstanding warpage performance, according to Celanese. Its flame-retardant performance is ideal for ultrathin wall and complex connector applications such as SIM (subscriber identity module) cards and board-to-board connectors in smart phones, tablets, ultra-books and other mobile communication devices. Other advantages of electronic connectors manufactured using Vectra LCP FIT50 include the maintenance of good dimensional stability, and improved overall processing, especially in filling performance, according to Celanese. New fields to conquer With technologies rapidly evolving, the commercial application for LCPs is expected to likewise expand and to cover more industries. For aerospace applications, LCPs are being considered in the new design for aircraft windshields. The LCPs can diffuse any wavelength of laser light, according to a team of researchers that presented their findings at an American Chemicals Society’s meeting recently. This is an important breakthrough in aviation safety. Laser strikes are a growing problem, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration. The agency reported receiving 6,754 reports of laser strikes on aircraft in 2017 or a 250% increase since it started tracking laser strikes in 2010. Either a prank

Incorporating LCPs into aircraft windshields could provide protection against laser strikes


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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • UK’s Avon Rubber is to acquire 3M’s ballisticprotection business and the rights to the Ceradyne brand for US$126 million. Operating primarily from three sites in the US with 280 employees, 3M’s ballistic-protection business is a provider of armour solutions, including ballistic helmets and body armour for law enforcement. In the year ended 2018, the business had a revenue of US$85.4 million and earnings of US$10.8 million. • Norwegian silicones firm Elkem ASA has acquired Basel Chemie, a South Korean producer of specialty silicone gels for cosmetics and water repellents for the construction industry, for US$26.9 million. Basel Chemie was founded in 1999 and has a plant near Gunsan and a new R&D and office centre in Seoul. The company has 32 employees and had a turnover of US$7.7 million in 2018 and an average EBITDA margin of 28% over the last three years. • Chinese tyre maker Doublestar Group, which launched a scrap tyre pyrolysis plant in Henan Province to tackle pollution from waste tyre recycling, has started the initial operations of the said plant. The US$49.3 million factory is able to process 100,000 tonnes of rubber or 10 million passenger car tyres to produce some 45,000 tonnes of pyrolysis oil and 35,000 tonnes of carbon black each year. • Asahi Kasei Corporation has begun operations from Asahi Kasei Asia Pacific (AKAP), its newly-formed ASEAN regional headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, as of

August 2019. The Japanese chemical giant currently has 16 entities across five ASEAN countries – including Singapore and Vietnam – that offer materials for synthetic rubber, automotive, textile, and hygienic markets. • India’s Balkrishna Industries (BKT) is suspending works on its US plant in the light of a challenging business environment. The new US$100 million tyre factory that would have been BKT’s first outside of India and its fifth plant overall was slated for opening in 2021 with a capacity of 20,000 tonnes/year. After nine months, the project has stalled following steady production capacity from BKT’s US$500 million Bhuj plant in India. Within four years of its opening in 2015, the demandsupply relationship is flourishing, and the plant now has the capacity to produce about 450-480 tonnes/day of radial, agricultural, OTR, and industrial tyres. • American Goodyear Tire & Rubber is restructuring its operations to reduce lowvalue/high-cost capacity in the US and bring about improved business competitiveness. The US$180 million plan will modernise and improve operations and efficiency at its Fayetteville plant in North Carolina and expand its production of high-value tyres with rim diameters of 17 in. and above. This is similar to the US$125 million reorganisation programme in Germany that is expected to generate improved operating earnings of US$60-US$70 million by 2022 and eliminate up to 1,100 jobs at two factories, in Hanau and Fulda, in the country. The plants have a capacity of

21,000 passenger/light truck tyres/day, and currently employ a total of 2,800 workers. • Japanese tyre manufacturer Toyo Tires is to build its first European R&D centre in Willich, Germany, by the end of the year to strengthen product development for its next-generation mobility. The new centre is to combine material research with technology development to ensure the continuous development and production of tyres in the new plant, also developed on the site. Toyo is also building a US$434 million tyre plant in Indjija, Serbia by January 2022 to facilitate its expansion into Europe. The company expects to initiate manufacturing operations in two years of the plant’s completion, with capacity projected to reach 5 million tyres/year by 2023. In addition, Toyo will also establish a US$176 million Serbian subsidiary in September 2019, based in Belgrade, to oversee the manufacture and sales of radial tyres for passenger vehicles and light trucks. • South Korean tyre manufacturer Nexen Tire is making headway into the European market with the official opening of its new plant in Zatec, Czech Republic. Nexen’s US$1 billion European plant is located within Zatec’s Triangle Strategic Industrial Zone on 650,000 sq m of land. The plant has been operating since April 2019 and just recently celebrated its first shipment of tyres, with a capacity to increase to 11 million tyres by 2022.


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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • Italian tyre manufacturer Marangoni is restarting operations at its automated passenger tyre plant in Rovereto, northern Italy, in preparation of a lease to a yet unconfirmed thirdparty tyre manufacturer. As minor changes will restore full production within the European facility, which has a production capacity of 250,000 units/year, the future tyre manufacturer would be exempt from investing in a greenfield facility. Marangoni is apparently in talks with UK motorsport tyre supplier DMack for a potential transfer of its production to Rovereto, but did not disclose terms of its investment for the project. In 2013, Marangoni exited the passenger car tyre sector when it closed its primary tyre factory in Anagni, near Rome. The company is now focusing on its retread business and industrial tyre production. • High demand for medical gloves has prompted Japan’s Tosoh Corporation to increase production capacity for its Skyprene chloroprene rubber (CR) at its Nanyo Complex in Yamaguchi, Japan. • Tyre manufacturer Continental has churned out its 15-millionth ContiSeal passenger tyre in Lousado, Portugal designed for a Volkswagen. The milestone comes after the corporation’s investment efforts in June 2019. Meanwhile, Continental has laid the cornerstone for a new EUR26 million motorcycle tyre factory in Rayong, Thailand. When the plant comes on stream in 2021, production will initially focus on radial tyres, followed at a later stage by bias-ply/ cross-ply models. The new

plant is being built in the immediate vicinity of the passenger car tyre factory, which Continental opened in March this year. • India’s largest manufacturer and exporter of carbon black, Phillips Carbon Black (PCBL), has launched its new Sushila Goenka Research and Development Centre in Palej, Gujarat, to facilitate the development of new products required by the tyre and other industries across the globe. With an initial investment of US$3 million, it spans 27,000 sq ft and is expected to pave the way for new uses of carbon black in areas including engineering plastics, fibres, wires/cables, ink/paints, and batteries. PCBL has an installed capacity of 5.7 million tonnes/year and a market presence in over 30 countries and operates four plants across India. • Malaysia’s Top Glove will open its first Vietnamese factory in 2020 in response to surging demand for hygienic gloves in the country. The glove giant is expected to invest US$24.5 million into building the new factory in Vietnam with a production capacity of 4 billion gloves/year. Top Glove also expects to have 872 separate product lines by December 2020, with total production capacity of 83.3 billion gloves globally. The company operates 40 factories across Asia and currently exports to over 190 markets globally. • With the approaching fifth anniversary of the merger of quality assurance system supplier BST and eltromat, Germany-based BST eltromat

International is set to expand its facility. The company has acquired a 22,000 sq m plot of land in Bielefeld-Altenhagen, Germany, where it will build its future headquarters. Employees from both the Leopoldshöhe location and the former company headquarters in Bielefeld, will move into the new building. BST eltromat has for the last three years achieved revenues of over EUR100 million. • India’s JK Tyre & Industries has inaugurated its first retread centre in Pokhara, Nepal. According to the company, the centre will offer repair and retread procedures to bring down the cost-per-km for customers. The latest addition marks JK Tyre’s ambition to increase its network of retreading centres to 100 by 2020. The tyre manufacturer set up its first retread rubber manufacturing facility in Rajasthan, back in 2009, to provide original tread designs to fleet owners/end users. • US custom moulded rubber, plastic and sealing components maker Vanseal Corporation, along with sister companies Ritus Corporation and Classic Molding, has been acquired by Blue Point Capital Partners (BPCP). The acquisition is Blue Point’s first in chemicals and plastics. Founded in 1963, Vanseal, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, designs and manufactures a variety of products including mission-critical seals, wiring grommets, tubing and moulded thermoplastics primarily for the aerospace & defence, automotive, industrial, oil & gas, marine and medical end markets.


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Rubber Journal Asia Materials News

Continental Carbon promotes eco-friendly carbon black According to a Lucintel survey, the 2018

Thus, Continental Carbon has developed its ultra-clean JE88 carbon black, with the grit value controlled at 10-30 ppm. In addition to better purity, compared to the granular N550 carbon black, Continental Carbon says it has also improved the carbon black pelletising technology to reduce the hardness of granules. Compared to N550, JE88 features the following advantages: • Improving process efficiency and enhancing reinforcement When mixing carbon black and rubber, the mixer must first pulverise rubber and carbon black granules. The lower the hardness of carbon black granules, the easier it is for pulverisation. In addition to saving mixing time and improving process efficiency, it allows for a more even distribution of carbon black in the rubber and better reinforcement.

specialty carbon black market reached

US$1.8 billion. Due to its increased demand in the construction, building, packaging,

automobile industry, plastic, and coating sectors, the figure is expected to reach US$2.5 billion in 2022. Against this

backdrop, Taiwan’s Continental Carbon is expanding its product reach.


he huge growth of the carbon black market has attracted major carbon black proprietors to engage in specialty carbon black product research, taking an active approach towards seizing the opportunities presented in the market. The only carbon black manufacturer in Taiwan, Continental Carbon, a business affiliated to the CSRC Group, ranks sixth globally in terms of capacity, and operates bases in the US, Asia, India, and Europe. The firm says it has long been committed to R&D and the active development of specialty carbon black products, having recently introduced its ultra-clean JE88 carbon black.

• Replacing N550 to enhance product yield The physical and chemical properties of JE88 are comparable to those of N550. For rubber products with high purity and yield requirements, JE88 can directly or partially replace N550, without any changes to the product formula as a result of the carbon black replacement. The higher purity will then ensure a substantial increase in yield. • Reduced process costs and a wider range of applications JE88 has a low impurity content, making application on product surfaces purer, with a wider range of rubber applications. At the same time, it decreases the speed of extruder plugging and reduces the number of screen replacements, thus greatly reducing processing costs. Other features are its excellent colouration, allowing it to be applied in cable insulation shield materials. Its high-purity characteristic makes it an excellent additive for high-grade rubber products, providing rubber products with good reinforcement, abrasion resistance, and flexibility.

Advantages of non-grit JE88 Grit in carbon black is an impurity. It cannot be mixed with rubber and does not display reinforcing effects, and it also affects the colouration and rubber performance. Thus, the first goal of carbon black manufacturers is to reduce the impurity content.

R&D vital for new product development In recent years, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Economic of Affairs has actively promoted high value-added petrochemical industry projects, in the hope that while researching and developing high value-added petrochemical products, a circular economy can also be implemented. Specialty carbon black featuring high purity, better dispensability, and outstanding colouration competency not only enables it to achieve better performance in rubber product applications, but also reduces the cost of the industrial processes, increasing process efficiency and environmental friendliness, says Continental Carbon.

JE88 carbon black can be applied in a variety of applications


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Rubber Journal Asia Materials News

To-date, Continental Carbon has invested more than US$31 million in its environmental protection policy in Asia

Circular economy in the carbon black sector Recently, Continental Carbon Taiwan was granted the Circular Economy Accomplishment Award by the Taiwan Chemical Industry Association (TCIA) for its achievements in the circular economy. Continental Carbon Taiwan uses the bottom residue, the fuel oil, which is a fairly contaminated substance from the petroleum and steelmaking industries, as a material. The fuel oil is sprayed into a high-temperature reactor exceeding 1,000OC, where the toxic substances of fuel oil are decomposed, producing the high-value carbon black. Carbon black can be used in applications such as tyre manufacturing, rubber mechanical products, chemical fibres, dyes, coatings, printing inks, and conductive and shielding materials in electronic communication components. Continental Carbon also says the high-heat tail gas produced in the production process of carbon black is used back in cogeneration boilers to generate steam and electricity. Other than self-use, it can be sold to factories. This not only promotes efficient use of power consumption but also reduces air pollutants, such as sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide that are discharged when burning fuel. In 2018, Continental Carbon Taiwan produced 607,000 tonnes of steam, 488,000 tonnes of which was sold to factories operating in the vicinity. The remaining steam was used to

generate 17,838,150 kW of electricity, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 59,000 households/month in Taiwan. Moreover, Continental Carbon Taiwan has started wastewater recycling, by collecting rainwater from gutters. After purifying the water, it is reused in the production process of carbon black, reducing the consumption of natural water and increasing the ratio of the use of recycled water. In 2018, Continental Carbon Taiwan recycled 240,000 tonnes of water, equivalent to the consumption of 866,000 households/day. The company also says it has invested more than US$31 million in its environmental policies in Asia, with US$455 million invested globally to upgrade its desulphurisation and denitrification facilities and the optimisation of smoke exhaust, wastewater discharge, and deodorisation technology. Furthermore, the company says it does not only solve the problem of heavy oil processing in upstream industries but also extends the idea of the circular economy to downstream industries, with the development of its high-additive carbon black products. The company will participate in the 19th International Exhibition on Rubber Technology in Shanghai at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, Pudong, China, from 18-20 September, at N2 Hall; Booth: 2A547.


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Rubber Journal Asia Latex

Asian rubber industry beats the odds The world needs rubber and the region’s

Asia accounts for 93% of the world’s natural rubber production

largest natural rubber producers, currently encumbered in price volatility and

production deficiencies, are stretching their

limits to deliver and to cater to the demand, says Angelica Buan in this report.


lobal production and consumption of rubber continues to expand in view of the growing demand for tyres in the automobile & transportation industry, as well as non-tyre applications. The Asia-Pacific region, the base for the world’s largest natural rubber (NR) producers and consumers, continues to oil the global rubber market. The region accounts for 93% of the world NR production with Thailand being the largest producer followed by Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. In 2018, Asia Pacific’s NR production reached 12.6 million tonnes, and consumption at 10.2 million tonnes, according to data from the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) that also estimated global NR supply/ demand surplus/deficit at 107,000 tonnes. Consumption-wise, Asia also accounts for the fastest growth in rubber consumption. According to a Freedonia report, Asia is projected to sweep nearly two-thirds of global demand this year. Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and China will post strong gains in rubber consumption owing to rapid advances in manufacturing activity. Demand for rubber in the Americas and the Africa/ Middle East region will also go up, benefiting from growth in these regions’ tyre industries. Meanwhile, the region has also opened its gates to manufacturers based in North America and Europe who are either moving or expanding their production bases to leverage the region’s edge in raw material supply, labour force availability, and lower operations cost.

Thailand churns out 36% of the world’s total rubber production, with Indonesia and Malaysia collectively producing 9.23 million tonnes during 2018, based on data from IRSG. Accounting for about 70% of global NR output, the three Southeast Asian countries also make up the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC), which was established in 2001 to frame and implement policy measures, and the International Rubber Consortium (IRCo). The latter was launched in 2004 to “ensure sustainable NR production, as well as implement mechanisms in achieving remunerative and fair NR prices for the well-being of NR smallholders”. These countries are also among the hardest hit of the price slump and dwindling market demand from import countries like China, which remains the world’s largest rubber market and represents half of Asia’s total market in 2019. The slowdown in demand has come in light of China’s trade rift with the US, another major rubber market for rubber producers in the Asian region. Following decline of NR prices in the global market, rubber tree growers are diversifying to other crops for profits. Reportedly, growers in North Barito, Central Kalimantan, in Indonesia, are banking on corn when NR starts becoming less lucrative. Malaysian growers are also shifting to other crops like cocoa to supplement dwindling income from NR.

Falling rubber prices ridging growth Time and again, volatile rubber prices, and supplydemand imbalances have been challenging for the rubber industry, globally. Based on the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC)’s natural rubber trends & statistics, the world production of NR fell 6.5% to 4.9 million tonnes during the first five months of 2019, year-to-year, while consumption was 5.79 million tonnes, up 0.9% from 5.38 million tonnes during the same period a year ago.


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Rubber Journal Asia Latex Export cuts, more local use to shore up prices This year in April, the ITRC started slashing NR rubber exports to stabilise the commodity’s global price. Indonesia reduced its exports by 98,160 tonnes over four months, and Malaysia and Thailand reduced theirs by 15,600 tonnes and 126,240 tonnes starting late May. The reductions were in line with the ITRC’s sixth Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme (AETS), which aims for a combined reduction of rubber exports of 240,000 tonnes, to improve rubber prices. Some Indonesian rubber growers cultivate corn crops when NR starts becoming less lucrative Thailand seeks more application for road construction to expand its domestic market for natural rubber

The supply of rubberwood from unproductive plantations can also be used as a cheaper substitute for hardwoods. Indonesia, which exports 85% of its rubber, is confronting a production obstacle. In the midst of falling rubber prices, rubber production of the world’s secondlargest rubber producer is expected to decline this year by 15%, against 3.76 million tonnes the previous year due to a fungal disease called Pestalotiopsis. The latter has already affected 382,000 ha of rubber plantations in the country, especially in South and North Sumatra, Bangka Belitung as well as South, Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan, IRCo reported. Meanwhile, rubber plantations in Malaysia are also at risk of being afflicted with the leaf streak disease, IRCo forewarned.

Increasing domestic consumption of rubber in industrial applications, such as rubberised road, seismic bearings for bridges, fibre mats, and others, is also suggested to revitalise rubber production and prices. For Thailand, its local construction industry can save the day. The Thai government is harnessing applications for road construction to expand the domestic market for NR. The Transport Ministry has proposed to use locally produced NR for transport projects, including road building and repairs and replacing dirt roads. The agency plans to use 6,000 tonnes of NR for its 13 billion baht project to replace guard rails and traffic signs across the country. Additionally, other segments can benefit from the local NR supply. The Thailand Board of Investments (BOI) has suggested utilising NR in the medical field, for medical and surgical gloves, sexual wellness products and other medical devices; and for automotive and aviation applications to also drum up demand.

Malaysia offsets loss with gloves, non-tyre products revenues Malaysia, ranked sixth in the world for rubber production, after Vietnam, also suffered from a production slump, recording a 16.9% month-on-month decline in June this year, against 44,479 tonnes in May, according to the Malaysian Rubber Export Council (MREPC). Among the reasons is the initiative to switch to palm oil production that has up to now impacted NR production. Malaysia has tussled against consequences in output of contracting plantation areas. By 2013, the total rubber planted area in Malaysia, pegged at 1.05 million ha, shrunk by 780,000 ha, or 43% from 1.83 million ha in 1990. It is because, rubber areas have been converted to other economic activities deemed more profitable like oil palm plantations.


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Rubber Journal Asia Latex On the other hand, the country’s exports have performed well. Citing MREPC data, latex goods, which remain the largest contributor to Malaysian exports of rubber products, accounted for 81.5% of the total exports of rubber products in 2018. The country, the world’s largest producer of latex gloves, catheters and latex threads, is cashing in on the market growth from these products. Among its economy drivers, the rubber gloves industry is pining to achieve RM20 billion in revenue this year, and this bodes well for the NR sector.

The practice, experts suggest, endangers biodiversity, at the same time perpetuates unsustainable practices in the rubber value chain. Looking through a fine toothcomb on these issues is the multi-stakeholder Global Platform on Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) initiative, launched in March in Singapore. GPSNR was initiated by the CEOs of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Tyre Industry Project (TIP) in November 2017. TIP members are committed to ensuring the sustainable production and supply of NR. As part of the GPSNR, members add on sustainable NR practices into their purchasing and/or operational activities. The platform, whose members include major brand tyre companies and car manufacturers, such as Cooper, Michelin, Pirelli, Bridgestone, BMW Group, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and others; rubber producers and processors and international NGOs, will address issues like land-grabbing and deforestation, protection of biodiversity and water resources, improvement of yields, and increasing supply chain transparency and traceability. To further its sustainability agenda, GPSNR and IRSG recently sealed their partnership with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to consolidate, develop and detail the cooperation between the two organisations. The organisations will focus on sustainability in the NR value chain, particularly in relation to socio-economic and environmental aspects attributed to the commodity’s sustainable production and consumption. Thus, the Asian rubber industry, along with its producers, growers and shareholders, is expected to ultimately benefit from this initiative.

Malaysia supplies more than half of the global demand for medical gloves

Malaysia is the world’s leading supplier of medical gloves (examination and surgical gloves), supplying more than 50% of the global demand, according to the MREPC. Malaysia’s total export of rubber products worth RM23.7 billion last year, 80% of which contributed by rubber glove, according to the Malaysia Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA). Unsustainable rubber production, a bigger monster to tackle Rubber is a highly valued commodity in the global market. However, as demand picks up, the commodity is also driving up expansion of industrial scale and smallholder monoculture plantations, according to a study published in the Conservation Letters journal in 2015. Southeast Asia, home to several biodiversity hotspots, has witnessed conversions or clearing of tracts of protected lands for rubber plantations and other cash crops like palm oil. The study estimated that about 4.3-8.5 million ha of additional rubber plantations are required to meet demand targets by 2024.

The GPSNR initiative aims to ensure the sustainable production and supply of NR in Asia


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