PRA January/February 2020

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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 包 装 行业: 寻找可持续包装的途径

In this issue

Volume 35, No 251

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 14 包裝行業: 尋找可持續包裝的途徑 17 Country Focus – Vietnam, which is Southeast Asia’s secondlargest energy consumer, is tapping on solar energy to sustain its electricity needs

21 Packaging – Innovative packaging is paired with recycling efforts to effectively counter the rising global waste from packaging

Regulars 概 要

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email: Associate Publisher/Executive Editor Tej Fernandez Tel: +60 3 4260 4575 Email: Senior Editor Angelica Buan Email: Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling

1 Industry News

Circulation Stephanie Yuen Email:

6 Materials News

Permits ISSN 1360-1245

10 業界新聞

MCI (P) 035/08/2019 KDN PP 18785/08/2015 (034280)

Supplements 副 刊 Composites used for automotive applications are expected to help reduce global carbon emissions from road transport 3D printing is on the rise; its use is spreading to the footwear and film extrusion sectors Malaysia’s gloves sector is growing; with the escalation spiked as a result of recent global health pandemics The desirable properties of medical grade silicones improve the efficiency of medical devices for better patient care outcomes



�界新 � 包装行� :

The recent emergence of the Covid-19 virus, which has drastically affected Wuhan, Hebei province in China, and has spread all over the world, requires immediate control response with protective/safety gear, such as medical masks and gloves, for health workers employed on the front lines


Connect @ JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020

Printer United Mission Press Sdn Bhd (Co. No: 755329-X) 25 & 27, Jalan PBS 14/14, Taman Perindustrian Bukit Serdang, 43300 Selangor, Malaysia. is published 8 times a year in Mandarin and English by Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this publication is correct, the publisher makes no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the nature or accuracy of such material to the extent permitted by applicable law. © 2019 Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or used in any form, or by any means, without specific prior permission from the publisher. PRA is circulated free to trade readers in the plastics and rubber industry. Airmail subscriptions are available at US$160 within Asia and US$250 to all other countries outside Asia.

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• Cabot China, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cabot Corporation, is purchasing Shenzhen Sanshun Nano New Materials (SUSN), a carbon nanotube (CNT) producer in China, for US$115 million. The acquisition will strengthen Cabot’s market position and formulation capabilities in the high-growth batteries market, particularly in China, which is the largest and fastest growing electric vehicle market in the world, says the firm. SUSN’s trailing 12-month revenue was US$28 million and the combination of Cabot’s energy materials portfolio and SUSN will create a business with approximately US$50 million in revenue. SUSN commissioned a new CNT plant in China in November 2018. • Austrian chemical firm Borealis and Canada’s Nova Chemicals Corporation have reached an agreement for Borealis to buy Nova Chemicals’s 50% ownership interest in Novealis Holdings. Formed in 2018, Novealis is the joint venture between affiliates of Borealis and Nova Chemicals, which subsequently formed a 50/50 joint venture with an affiliate of Total S.A. to launch Bayport Polymers in Houston, Texas, US.

• RAG-Stiftung, the public sector foundation that controls German speciality chemicals maker Evonik, is selling a 5.4% stake in the company to further diversify its holdings but has vowed to remain a major investor. It has placed in total EUR632.5 million in shares of Evonik for a price of EUR25.30 per share. The accelerated bookbuild offering, run by Bank of America and UBS Investment Bank, would cut the RAG’s stake to 58.9% in Evonik. • Hosokawa Micron Corporation has bought Germanybased bulk materials handling company Solids Solutions Group (SSG), through Hosokawa Alpine Aktiengesellschaft. SSG, which has an average turnover of EUR30 million a year, is a provider of system engineering, products and sales i.e. pneumatic conveying, feeding and dosing systems based on materials handling technology. • Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant is selling its entire Masterbatches business to US-based compounder PolyOne for US$1.6 billion. Acquiring the masterbatches

unit, which makes colour and additive concentrates, would make the Ohio-based PolyOne a world leader in supplying colour concentrates. PolyOne has also sold its PVC compounding business to SK Capital Partners for US$775 million in cash. In the financial year 2018, the total masterbatches business generated sales of around CHF1.2 billion. Separately, the sale of Clariant’s Masterbatches business in India has been approved by Clariant Chemicals (India)’s Board of Directors and is valued at US$60 million.

• Customized Compound Solutions (CCS), Nordic Grafting Company (NGC) – both affiliates of Danish chemical products distributor Bjørn Thorsen (BT), and Chongqing Techxanadu Industrial (TechXanadu), an affiliate of Good Mark Industrial, are to set up a production and commercialisation joint venture in China, Nordic Grafting & Compound Solutions (NGCS). Based on licensing agreements with its European founding partners, NGCS, located in Chongqing, China, will produce speciality compounds and compatibilisers targeted at replacing non-recyclable thermoset solutions with recycled

thermoplastic solutions. • German materials company Covestro has closed the sale of its European polycarbonates (PC) sheets business to Munich-based Serafin Group. This includes key management and sales functions throughout Europe as well as production sites in Belgium and Italy. The segment generated total sales of EUR130 million in 2018. Serafin will continue operations with the 250 employees at all locations.

Industry News


• Sweden’s Elkem ASA has acquired all the shares in Polysil, a Chinese silicone elastomer & resins material manufacturer catering to baby care and food grade silicones; electronics and medical markets, for an enterprise value of up to RMB941 million, including potential bonus and earn-out depending on pre-agreed criteria. • Johannesburg-based packaging maker Nampak Limited has sold its European subsidiary Nampak Plastics Europe (NPE) for an undisclosed amount to Bellcave Ltd. The latter is owned and backed by Greybull Capital, an entrepreneurial investment group that specialises in medium to long-term investments. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020


Industry News

• Finland’s Huhtamaki has acquired full ownership of its joint venture company Laminor in Brazil for EUR30 million. Laminor, which specialises in tube laminates, particularly for oral care applications, was set up in 2002 as a 50/50 joint venture together with Bemis Company, which is now part of giant packaging firm Amcor. The transaction is subject to the approval of competition authorities in Brazil and it is expected to be closed during the first quarter in 2020. • Italian polymer maker Radici Group is starting off the year under the banner of sustainability, with the acquisition of Zeta Polimeri, an Italian company with 30 years’ experience in the recovery of synthetic fibre and thermoplastics. The company was established in 1992 and recovers synthetic fibre and thermoplastics at its 8,000-sq m facility in in Buronzo, in north-western Italy. • US materials company Milliken & Company has acquired Borchers Group Ltd, a coating additives and speciality

catalyst solutions company, from private equity firm The Jordan Company. Headquartered in Westlake, Ohio, Borchers carries a portfolio of additives for the coatings, inks and adhesives markets with a comprehensive range of cobalt-free driers, dispersants, rheology modifiers, wetting agents, polymerisation catalysts and adhesion promoters. • Private investment firm Clearlake Capital Group has acquired Pretium Packaging from Genstar Capital. Pretium is a fullservice designer and manufacturer of rigid packaging solutions for specialised applications and caters to a diverse set of end markets including food and speciality beverage, healthcare, sports nutrition, personal care, beauty, and household products. • BÜFA Composite Systems, Germanybased supplier of tailormade unsaturated polyester resins and formulations, will acquire UK-based AOC (UK) Ltd, a supplier of composite products with over 25 years experience in

providing distribution and mixing service. • US chemical firm Huntsman Corp is buying Icynene-Lapolla from an affiliate of San Francisco-based private equity firm FFL Partners for US$350 million in cash. Icynene-Lapolla manufactures and distributes spray polyurethane (PU) foam insulation systems for residential and commercial uses. It will complement Demilec, another spray PU foam company that Huntsman acquired in 2018 also for US$350 million. • Chemical firm AkzoNobel is to acquire 100% of the shares of Mauvilac Industries, a paints and coatings company in Mauritius. The transaction includes a local production facility, four concept stores and access to a strong distribution network. The business generated revenue of around EUR20 million in 2018 • Japanese firm Showa Denko K.K. is buying its bigger rival Hitachi Chemical through a tender process for US$8.8 billion, which is said to be more than double its

Plant Expansions/Set-ups/Openings • UK-based Poseidon Plastics Ltd., a waste polyester recycling 2


company and co-developer of a monomer recycling

technology, has tied up with DuPont Teijin Films (DTF) to construct

own market value. Hitachi Chemical is a supplier of materials for semiconductors, displays and lithiumion batteries. The tender offer, which will be executed through Showa Denko’s wholly owned subsidiary HC Holdings K.K., has started in February 2020 at 4,630 yen a share, the company said. Hitachi is also selling its diagnostics imaging unit to Tokyo-based Fujifilm Holdings Corp. in a 179 billion yen deal. • Japan’s Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) is to acquire the thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer (TPU) business of US-based AdvanSource Biomaterials Corporation, through Mitsubishi Chemical Performance Polymers, a subsidiary engaged in the performance polymers business in the US. • Thailand’s Indorama Ventures, a global chemical manufacturer, has acquired Green Fiber International Inc. (GFI), a recycling company in Fontana, California, US. The facility produces rPET flakes with a combined capacity of 40,000 tonnes/year. an initial 10,000-tonne/ year facility. The Poseidon Process is focused on recycling problematic waste

INDUSTRY NEWS streams such as trays, pots, containers, fibres/ fabrics and all types of polyester composites into consumer grade BHET. Poseidon’s facility will start detailed engineering design at the site in the first quarter of 2020. • Anglo/Dutch oil firm Shell and CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co Ltd (CNOOC) are to explore the setting up of the first commercial-scale PC production unit, which would be located at the CNOOC and Shell Petrochemical Company (CSPC) jointventure chemicals complex in Huizhou, China. As an interim step, Shell says it has started constructing a PC development unit at its Jurong Island chemicals plant in Singapore. • UK-based maker of PEEK material Victrex has set up a jointventure between its subsidiary, Victrex Hong Kong, and Yingkou Xingfu Chemical Company, to build and operate a new PEEK polymer manufacturing facility in Liaoning, China, with a capacity of up to 1,500 tonnes/year that will be commissioned in 2022. The investment follows on from Victrex commencing a debottlenecking project at its main Hillhouse, UK, facility in FY2020, which will add up to 1,000 tonnes/year of nameplate capacity when completed.

• German chemical firm BASF plans to increase the production capacity for its antioxidant Irganox 1520L by 20% at the site in Pontecchio Marconi, Italy, in response to an increasing market demand. BASF has also inaugurated the second phase of its new, worldscale antioxidants manufacturing plant at its Caojing site in Shanghai, China. The second phase comprises a synthesis plant to produce the antioxidants Irgafos 168 and Irganox 1076. With the completion of the second phase, the plant will have a capacity of 42,000 tonnes/year, mainly serving customers in China. BASF also plans to double its capacity for polymer dispersions with a new production line at its site in Dahej, Gujarat, India. BASF began production of polymer dispersions in Dahej in 2014, and currently operates one line at the plant. BASF also produces dispersions in Mangalore, south India. • Following its doubledigit million euro investment and after less than 18 months of construction, Evonik has officially opened its new multipurpose silicones manufacturing facility in Geesthacht, Germany.

• Belgian firm Solvay’s new high molecular weight (HMW) hindered amine light stabiliser (HALS) capacity is now online, complementing existing HALS production at the West Virginia, US, site. Solvay is also doubling its production capacity of Solef polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) at its production site in Changshu, China, to be on stream by 2022. • Chemical firm Sasol says its Lake Charles ethane cracker in the US is increasing production rates following the successful replacement of the acetylene reactor catalyst. The ethane cracker achieved beneficial operation in August 2019 but was running 50-60% of nameplate capacity due to underperformance of the plant's acetylene removal system. The outage has been completed, with ethylene production rates now around 85-90% of nameplate capacity and increasing. • Major Japanese oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co. will double the global output of syndiotactic polystyrene (SPS) resin to meet growing demand for electric vehicles and telecommunications devices. It will build a facility in Johor, Malaysia, to be

operational in 2022, with a capacity of 9,000 tonnes/year. The move will bring its combined SPS resin production capacity with that of a plant in Tokyo, to 18,000 tonnes/year. • US materials company Trinseo has initiated a joint development project with packaging maker Fernholz to develop a PS product composed of 25% recycled material through a chemical recycling dissolution process. The collaboration is expected to have commercial viability by mid-year 2020. • Ineos Styrolution and Agilyx are advancing the development of a PS chemical recycling facility in Channahon, Illinois, US. The facility will be capable of processing up to 100 tonnes/day of post-consumer PS and converting it into a styrene product that will go into the manufacturing of new PS products. • South Korea’s Hyosung has launched commercial operations of a spandex plant in India. Located in the AURIC Industrial Complex near Aurangabad, Maharashtra State, the new plant has annual production capacity of 18,000 tonnes of spandex, and it occupies a site area of approximately 400,000 sq m. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020


Industry News

Covid-19 to affect Chinese, global economy Ripple effect from Asia’s largest economy With the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) across China, the country, especially the epicentre of the infection in Wuhan, Hubei Province, has practically come to a standstill, with a forced lockdown on the city by authorities to curtail the spread further. With the World Health Organisation (WHO) describing it as a “very grave threat” to the world, the Chinese government has raised the emergency response to the highest level in its efforts to contain the virus. Given this, the virus, and its spread across the globe, is expected to have a much larger negative effect on the global economy than the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003, says research firm IHS Markit. There are various factors for this: in 2003, China was the sixth largest economy, accounting for only 4.2% of world GDP. China is now the world's second largest economy, accounting for 16.3% of world GDP. This, IHS commented, “will send not ripples but waves across the globe.” And with a slowdown already brought on by the US-China trade war, the country’s GDP will drop by 0.1% in 2020 and see a 0.4% reduction in China's annual growth, said IHS. This will have a ripple effect on the global economy. “A slowdown in Chinese growth may be a significant drag on global growth. In 2002, China contributed 23% of world GDP growth, in 2019 China contributed an estimated 38% of world growth," according to IHS. Chinese industries affected – automotive slowdown Though China is the world’s largest car market, the country’s 2019 vehicle market was down by 8.2% to 25.8 million units, with a drop of 2% expected this year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). Last year, the market saw the second straight annual drop for the world’s biggest car market, hit by a weaker economy and US-China trade tensions. Already, CAAM expects sales to slide to about 25.31 million vehicles in 2020 and the outbreak could cause vehicle purchases to be put on hold in the coming months, taking the market down further. Hence, the next few months will prove to be crucial. Also, the global automotive industry has a large footprint in Hubei province and Wuhan, which is China’s fourth largest car manufacturing hub, and foreign vehicle makers have put on hold their China operations. The factory shutdowns compound a drop in sales in the country’s automotive market.



Companies with major manufacturing operations in Hubei province include Groupe PSA, Renault, Nissan and Honda. It is also home to state-owned Chinese car manufacturer Dongfeng Motor Corp. and numerous assembly plants. If the situation spills over into mid-March, and plants in adjacent provinces are also idled, the Chinese supply chain disruption caused by parts shortages from Hubei, could have a wider impact. Already, South Korea’s Hyundai Motor has halted production outside China because of component shortages caused by the virus, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it may have to temporarily close a European plant if the situation worsens. Oil market in a frenzy; polyester demand down Meanwhile, Middle East-dominated producer group OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) has dramatically lowered its forecast for global oil demand growth to 0.99 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, down by 0.23 million bpd from the previous month’s estimate. According to IHS, China accounted for half of world oil demand growth in 2019, whereas in 2003, China accounted for one third of world oil demand growth. But China’s demand is expected to slow down this year and a committee set up by OPEC is pushing to cut oil production by 600,000 bpd to offset the impact of the coronavirus, with a decision expected in March. Elsewhere, Wood Mackenzie says the country's polyester and textile industries could be under pressure. Commenting, Salmon Lee, Principal Consultant, said: “Concerns among market players in the polyester chain are widespread.” He explained that Hubei is an important manufacturing base for the textile industry with many textile, print and dyeing businesses clustered there. “A prolonged transport paralysis will mean no fibres or fabrics produced in the major production bases in coastal provinces of China will be sent inland whether by road, rail or along the Yangtze. Similarly, the delivery of apparels and other finished textile products to other parts of China, as well as exports, could also stall.” Given the above scenario, Lee says that polyester and downstream production will likely fall. “The SARS crisis in 2003 brought down Chinese polyester production for three months. Very importantly, prices tumbled for polyester products and raw materials, PTA and MEG. This rattled the petrochemical markets, including the paraxylene industry, and the plunge was seen almost across the board for the industry,” he adds.

INDUSTRY NEWS He also added that a spike in demand for medical supplies is not going to help the polyester chain. “The demand for surgical masks and protective suits has surged. The main raw material of this equipment is PP fibre. A small amount of polyester fibres, both virgin and recycled, are also used but the amount of polyester fibres in one mask has been estimated to be no more than 1-2 g, situated mainly in the elastic band.” Nevertheless, Lee expects the polyester chain may also see a quick and strong recovery (as seen in the SARS case in 2003) by the middle of the year, with the tapering of the virus. Buffering up supplies for hygiene products With all that is happening in the country, medical gear is in short supply. According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, China produces about half of the world's masks with an output of 20 million/day. But even this output remains insufficient to meet the demand. Thus, since masks are considered simple products that can be manufactured by existing production lines without much retrofitting, telecoms, automotive parts makers and baby care product producers are switching product lines to cater to the need. For instance, Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn Technology Group, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer and a key Apple parts supplier, is utilising its production lines in Shenzhen to produce masks. The company says its production volume of masks is expected to hit 2 million pieces/day. Harbin Pharmaceutical Group Holding (Hayao) has also joined the drive and purchased two N95 facial mask production lines for its facility to churn out 20,000 to 30,000 pieces/day. In Fujian, diaper manufacturer Daddy Baby is revamping its production lines for mask production and expects to produce 3.5 million pieces/day by the end of March, with expanded production lines. In other cities such as Ningbo in eastern Zhejiang province, 14 garment manufacturers are looking to produce 1 million masks in 20 days, reported Xinhua recently. Chinese automotive parts maker BYD said that it was looking into the design and making of protective gear, to produce masks and disinfectant. BYD expects to make up to 5 million masks and 50,000 bottles of disinfectant a day. Others that have stepped in include SGMW, a joint venture between General Motors and Liuzhou Wuling Motors, founded in 2002. It has constructed a 2,000 sq m facility in Liuzhou to cater to 14 production lines. Output can reach more than 1.7 million pieces/ day, and will help relieve the shortage of medical supplies in Guangxi.

Meanwhile, the country’s largest oil firm China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) is setting up 11 production lines with partners and targets an output of 1 million masks/day by March. Apart from masks, other urgent needs are garments worn in quarantine conditions. As such, Hongdou Group Co, a clothing manufacturer founded in the 1950s, has refitted a factory to make disposable medical suits. The company said it intends to produce about 60,000 protective suits/month. Raw materials capacity upped With the greater need for hygiene products also comes the increased capacity for raw materials. As such, Hohhot Petrochemical Company in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region has increased its output for PP non-woven material for making masks and protective medical clothing. The company is producing 3,000 tonnes of the material, with each tonne used to produce about 250,000 protective masks. The material is delivered to non-woven fabric manufacturers in Hebei, Shandong and Tianjin for the production of masks and medical protection clothing, the company said. Meanwhile, Xiantao, known as China’s industrial city of nonwovens as it abounds with non-woven fabrics, also upped its stake in daily output. It is now able to make 30,000 medical protective clothing, with the mobilisation of the whole city. A total of ten local companies have been involved in the production of medical protective clothing, with one providing raw materials and the other nine producing semi-finished products. All of the products are then handed over to Winner Medical Group Inc., a provider of medical supplies headquartered in Shenzhen, to go through procedures such as disinfection. With this flurry of activity, some manufacturers have expressed concerns about the possibility of overcapacity when the epidemic is resolved. Lian Weiliang, Deputy Director of the NDRC, allayed fears and said the government would purchase the stock produced if the market could not consume all the products.

Hohhot has increased its output of PP non-woven material for masks and protective gear for hospitals JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020


Materials News

Addressing the state of plastics recycling Plastics carry the stigma of being pollutants and environmental hazards. Thus, the campaign against plastics has spiralled uncontrollably such that plastic producers are seeking effective measures to recycle plastics into useful, valuable materials, says Angelica Buan in this report.


nvironmental advocates are saying that the issue on the impact of plastics in the environment has been an elephant in the room. Quite literally, the amount of global production of plastics is pegged at 300 million tonnes/year, or about 50 million times the size of an elephant! Thus, the gargantuan task of preventing and removing plastic wastes in the environment falls largely on the recycling sector, a better part of which is impaired with the right technologies for efficient sorting, collecting, and recycling. Improving recycling output with partnerships, technologies Demand for plastics continues to rise due to the fact that plastics remain unmatched in terms of durability, convenience of use, flexibility for applications, and various other benefits that suit the needs of consumers. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has indicated that recycling rates remain low at about 9% of the total global wastes produced and 14% are collected for recycling. More needs to be done. For this reason, companies, brands and academic institutions are stepping up technological innovations and measures to improve the recycling situation.

Improving its collection of discarded product containers, US manufacturer of household cleaning supplies and other consumer chemicals SC Johnson, has partnered with Brazil-headquartered reverse logistics startup Molecoola to sponsor recycling centres in São Paulo. The project encourages consumers to return empty containers from some of SC Johnson’s household consumer brands at any of Molecoola’s locations and earn points that can be redeemed, using an app, for goods and services. The points can also be used as donations to communities in São Paulo. This initiative can help increase recycling rates in Brazil, according to SC Johnson, a founding signatory to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and a Global Partner with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The company targets to make all its plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable; and to triple the use of post-consumer recycled content in its packaging by 2025. Molecoola collects and stores a broad range of recyclable materials including aerosol cans, beverage cans, paper, cardboard, chipboard, plastic, electronics and cooking oil. Since first partnering with SC Johnson in November 2018, Molecoola has collected more than 360 tonnes of recyclable materials.

SC Johnson and Molecoola sponsor recycling centres in São Paulo



Materials News

Saipem's technology is targeted to especially improve recycling of non-recyclable mixed plastics

Saipem, an Italian multinational oilfield services company and one of the largest in the world, is killing two birds with one stone with its new recycling technology. The company has signed a license agreement with ITEA, an Italian company that owns the patent, for application of the technology in a variety of settings. Originally designed for applications in the oil & gas sector, the technology is particularly suited to solid urban waste disposal, in particular unsorted plastic, Saipem said. The technology is targeted to especially improve recycling of the so-called “Plasmix” or non-recyclable mixed plastics consisting of a group of heterogeneous plastics included in post-consumption wrappings, which cannot be recovered as single polymers. The new technology, fine-tuned by ITEA, involves a particular process of plastic decomposition called “flameless oxy-combustion”, explained Saipem. This produces water, energy and pure CO2, which is not emitted into the atmosphere, but which is ideal for use as a product destined for the market. Furthermore, the process is said to be flexible, relatively simple and can be exploited even in small-sized facilities. Another advantage of the technology is that it affords the possibility to process Plasmix along with sewage sludge deriving from the treatment of wastewater, a material which at present is difficult to dispose of. Saipem hopes that the process can lead to a noteworthy increase in the percentage of recyclable material in a sustainable way, it said. Stretching the limits of recycling: new technologies for PET An impediment to increasing recycling is the presence of plastic containers such as trays, polystyrene (PS) foam, plastic wraps, and other such packaging and plastic fibres that are difficult to recycle or cannot be recycled. Offering a recycling solution for problematic monomer materials Poseidon Plastics, a waste polyester recycling company, has signed an agreement with global polyester films manufacturer DuPont Teijin Films (DTF) to assist and develop Poseidon’s Polyester Recycling Technology and to construct an initial 10,000 tonnes/year facility.

Poseidon is a co-developer of a monomer recycling technology that converts polyester waste to recycled raw material and BHET (bis (2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate), obtained by glycolysis of PET waste, to produce virgin PET. It had previously operated a 1,000-tonne/year pilot plant and following a series of process improvements, Poseidon will commercialise its second generation platform, known as the Poseidon Process, in the 10,000tonne/plant. The Poseidon Process is focused on recycling problematic waste streams such as trays, pots, containers, fibres/fabrics and all types of polyester c o m p o s i t e s i n t o c o n s u m e r g r a d e r e c y c l e d B H E T. Poseidon’s facility will start detailed engineering design at its Teesside, UK, site in the first quarter of 2020. Also under the agreement, a 50,000-tonne/year capacity will be designed for subsequent global licensing to support larger scale facilities.

The Poseidon Process is focused on recycling problematic waste streams into consumer-grade recycled BHET

DTF reckons that this type of monomer recycling can boost the circularity of PET, opening up new waste streams that currently cannot be economically mechanically recycled, and provide high value end markets for recycled polyester. In a like manner, a consortium of food, drink and consumer goods companies is tackling PET plastic waste using a new technology from UK-headquartered oil & gas company BP. The consortium can facilitate the commercialisation of BP’s Infinia recycling technology. The consortium comprises UK soft drinks producer Britvic; French food products company Danone; and British-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever, along with Austrian plastic packaging company Alpla and German recycling company Remondis. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020


Materials News BP Infinia is designed to turn opaque and difficult-torecycle PET plastic waste into recycled feedstocks that can be used to make new, high-quality PET plastic packaging again and again, with no loss in quality, says the firm. With conventional methods, difficult-to recycle PET plastic waste can degrade in quality each time it is recycled, BP explained. This year, the London-based company is constructing a US$25 million pilot plant for the Infinia technology in Naperville, US, as the next step towards full-scale commercialisation. Meanwhile, Carbios, a green chemistry French company has forged a development agreement with biological solutions company Novozymes to secure the production of Carbios’s proprietary PET-degrading enzymes on a demonstration and industrial scale.

Carbios has tied up with Novozymes for PET degrading enzymes

The technology is a biology-based solution, which uses enzymes to break down widely used PET plastics and fibres. It offers a sustainable solution for the infinite recycling of PET-based products, such as water and soda bottles, plastic packaging and textiles, according to Carbios, which had its first tie up with Novozymes for PLA biodegradation, early last year. Carbios is launching the construction of a demonstration plant this year, with the first operations expected to begin in 2021, prior to a large-scale industrial deployment. Meanwhile, Australian packaging giant Amcor says it is leading the way in the multivitamin category with the development and launch of the segment’s first PET container made from 100% post-consumer recycled content (PCR) resin. Amcor created the new, clear bottle for Ritual, a health technology company. Amcor says PET bottles often have the lowest carbon footprint and their production results in up to 70% less greenhouse gas emissions than other packaging materials, according to its Asset Lifecycle Analysis. Maintaining colour and clarity can be challenging when using a high percentage of PCR. Amcor’s engineers created a colourstable bottle for Ritual that is close to virgin PET clarity. PCR is an available, cost competitive, and more sustainable packaging option than other choices.



Packaging giant Amcor has developed the first PET container for Ritual multivitamins made from 100% recycled content

Applications of chemical recycling technology Contamination of waste streams by unrecyclable materials and other impurities, as well as a predisposition to produce low value products, pose challenges for mechanical recycling. As a complementary recycling strategy, chemical recycling is able to break down the polymers into their chemicals or polymers feedstock. It is also able to recycle a larger array of waste plastics, including the multilayer and mixed material plastics that are otherwise difficult to handle for the mechanical recycling method. A consortium formed by businesses to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging materials and paper, Citeo, together with global energy company Total, plastic recycling technology provider Recycling Technologies, and global brands Nestlé and Mars will examine the technical and economic feasibility of recycling complex plastic waste. These include small, flexible and multilayered food-grade packaging that are currently considered non-recyclable and are therefore either incinerated or disposed of in landfills. The project is touted to attain the globally set 30% recycled polymers target by 2030. In the meantime, chemically recycled mixed waste plastic is finding sustainable use for a range of applications as proven by chemical firm Sabic’s Trucircle initiative. The Saudi-based company offers what it calls “certified renewable polymers” created from chemically-recycled mixed plastic waste. Other advanced circular products are also offered under its newly launched Trucircle, including certified renewable PE and PP. In a pilot project, US manufacturer of adhesive materials Avery Dennison has collaborated with Sabic in the Trucircle initiative to be able to offer rPP label materials. Avery Dennison is making the material available this year. The California-based company said that the new material is made via feedstock recycling (pyrolysis) of mixed post-consumer plastics waste. The full value chain, from the film supplier, Avery Dennison and the converter

Materials News

Avery Dennison is collaborating with Sabic in the Trucircle initiative for the rPP label material

to the brand owner, need to be ISCC chain-of-custodyaccredited to use resin from Sabic to make the rPP feedstock, so that the material is certified as a “circular polymer solution”. The initial 2020 production capacity will be expanded as new Sabic production comes on stream in 2021. The goal of the pilot is to generate learnings to be applied in 2021 when there will be wider availability of material. PP labels are widely used in food, cosmetics, and a variety of other segments, so improvements in this area can make a major contribution to sustainability, according to Avery Dennison. Increasing the circularity of styrene Polystyrene (PS) is widely used by the food industry packaging; as protective material for breakable objects; and as insulation material for buildings, to name few of its valuable uses. But it also makes up a big portion of municipal solid waste (MWS). For one, it is bulky, made up of synthetic, non-renewable materials, and nonbiodegradable. Manufacturers also find it more expensive to recycle PS foams than to produce new ones. But developers of recycling technologies for PS vouch that recycling PS need not be challenging. Focusing on the issues of recycling PS, a sodality of companies have embarked on a project. These include Ineos Styrolution, Total, Trinseo and Versalis (Eni), as well as global leaders in the manufacturing of PS and other styrenic materials. Together with the Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS), the joint industry initiative to increase the circularity for styrenic polymers and Pyrowave, the Quebec-based developer of plastic-to-plastic chemical recycling, the companies have introduced a new collaboration including an in-depth evaluation of

Pyrowave’s proprietary depolymerisation technology and its utilisation for Europe. Pyrowave’s patented chemical recycling technology known as a catalytic microwave depolymerisation is a small, flexible microwave unit that enables a decentralised approach and can be installed next to existing local sorting facilities, where the waste feedstock can be found. PS is most easily reversed into its original monomer at high yield with game-changing recycling technologies, Pyrowave says. The liquid state of its monomer enables easy purification and the recycled monomer is identical to the virgin monomer, according to Pyrowave. It can thus be processed into styrenic polymers used in multiple applications, such as packaging, electronics and medical devices with identical, virgin quality enabling all applications, including food contact. Also, it allows for continuous recycling loops, over and over again, assures the Canadian recycling technology firm. Meanwhile, building its own trail in recycled PS is Trinseo. It has collaborated with Cedap, a specialist in sheet extrusion for the packaging industry. The partnership focuses on advancing the implementation of recycled PS used in food packaging applications by utilising chemically recycled PS to develop and test food grade recycled PS packaging. Trinseo, which is building a PS chemical recycling in Europe, will also work with Cedap in developing a 100% PS-made yoghurt container. Cedap is also involved in a Citeo-led project, which aims to create a mono material yoghurt container, including the label, lid and pot. Meanwhile, Trinseo has also teamed up with plastics packaging maker Fernholz to develop a high-quality PS product composed of 25% recycled material through a chemical recycling dissolution process. The collaboration is expected to have commercial viability by mid-year 2020. Pyrowave's plastic-to-plastic chemical recycling technology







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Country Focus

Vietnam’s energy sector finds its corner under the sun For Vietnam, solar energy offers a bright prospect to boost its economy by securing the country’s energy needs and also catering to sustainability, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Meeting the power demand Vietnam is one of East Asia’s most dynamic nations, affirms the World Bank (WB), with poverty levels falling from 70% to 6% and its GDP crossing the 7% annual growth rate in 2018. Succeeding to reach the lower middle income rank with its economic reforms, the country, however, is grappled with surging power demands from its growing businesses and its over 90-million population. The country’s electricity demand is the second-largest in Southeast Asia. Energy security, meanwhile, is a grey spot in its economic ambitions and to sustain its economic growth, forecast to snag 6.5% from this year to next year. Vietnam has gone through power shortage spells. Citing a report from research firm IHS Markit, Vietnam is likely to face a power shortage in the next few years because of delays in most of its planned energy projects. This resonated with a forecast by the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry that the country may contend with severe power shortages from 2021, as electricity demand outpaces construction of new power plants, creating a domino effect to the country’s manufacturing sector, plus it could hamper foreign investment inflows. Vietnam’s power generation will need to rise from about 48,600 MW currently to 60,000 MW by 2020 and 129,500 MW by 2030, according to government data. By then, the demand could exceed the supply by 6.6 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) in 2021, increasing to 15 billion kWh by 2023. The delay stems from difficulties of securing funds for the construction of plants and the government’s limited guarantee for foreign loans. Vietnam will need an average of US$6.7 billion a year to expand its annual power generation capacity by 10% between 2016 and 2030, it added. The other concern is that to compensate for the energy shortfalls, the country may have to increase its dependence on coal-fed power plants, at least through 2030. Aside from coal, Vietnam also utilises liquefied natural gas (LNG) for its power plants, and this, the Ministry says will reduce the power gap from 2025. Going renewable for the long term Renewable energy is taking off in Vietnam to provide sufficient energy and lessen the reliance on coal. Hence, its renewable energy development plan comes just at the right time. The development plan covers different technologies including hydropower, wind power, solar power, biomass energy and biogas. Its objectives include enabling as many households access to sustainable and reliable energy that is affordable in 2030, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5% in 2020, by 25% in 2030 and 45% by 2050. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020


Country Focus

Vietnam's renewable energy development plan covers the adoption of solar and other energy technologies to provide sufficient power to the country and to lessen its reliance on coal

As the country starts reducing fuel and coal imports, in line with its climate change targets, efforts are being ramped up to increase application of biogas technologies as well as to provide solar-based facilities like solar waterheating to households. With the planned increase of utilisation rate of renewable energy in the years to come, solar power production is also being eyed to increase from 850 MW in 2020 to 4,000 MW in 2025 and 12,000 MW in 2030. Harvesting sufficient energy from solar farms Solar energy is an ideal exploit for Vietnam for a good number of reasons. The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Energy Balance of Vietnam by 2020 report cited that the country has adequate sunshine hours, with 2,000-2,500 hours/year. The total of average heat radiating energy is at 150 kCal/sq cm/year and an estimated potential of around 43. 9 billion tonnes/year of oil equivalent (TOE). For this reason, Vietnam can aim to becoming the solar power hub in the region. In fact, it is the location of Southeast Asia’s largest solar power farm, the 420-MW Dau Tieng Solar Power Complex, which spans across 540 ha in the Tay Ninh province. The US$391 million-complex by Dau Tieng Tay Ninh Energy JSC, a joint venture of B Grimm Power Company and Xuan Cau Corporation Ltd, has the capacity to produce 688 million kWh/



year of electricity or 10% of the country’s solar energy to supply 320,000 households. It is also said to cut down 595,000 tonnes/year of carbon emissions. Another solar farm was also built in the Ninh Thuan province by Singapore-based clean energy provider Sunseap Group, together with InfraCo Asia, an infrastructure development and investment company of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG).

The solar farm complex by Dau Tieng Tay Ninh Energy JSC

Country Focus The US$150 million solar farm project will generate 168 megawatt-peak (MWp) of solar energy that could meet the power needs of 192,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by about 240,000 tonnes/year. InfraCo Asia is funded by the governments of UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia. Meanwhile, Japan-headquartered Sharp Energy Solutions Corporation also operates a mega-solar power plant in the Quang Ngai Province. The project, a collaboration with multiple partners, including Sermsang Power Corporation (SSP) of Thailand, and SSP affiliate Truong Than Quang Ngai Power and High Technology Joint Stock Company, has an output of approximately 49 MW, with annual power generation capacity estimated at 73,143 MWh/year, or equivalent to the amount consumed in a year by 38,762 average households. This plant, along with Sharp’s other three solar power plants in Vietnam have combined capacity of approximately 195 MW.

Sunseap and InfraCo built a solar farm in Ninh Thuan province

Philippine-based Ayala Corporation’s energy platform AC Energy and the BIM Group of Vietnam operate a 330-MW solar farm in Ninh Thuan province. The BIM/AC Renewables solar farm, which is built over 300 ha of land, is one of the largest solar farms in Southeast Asia and equipped with the latest technology to ensure efficient operations. The solar farm comprises three facilities with installed capacities of 30 MW, 250 MW, and 50 MW, respectively. It is expected to generate 545 million kWh/ year of renewable energy and generate income and jobs for the province of Ninh Thuan.

Sharp Energy Solutions's mega solar power plant in the Quang Ngai Province supplies energy equivalent to the power needs of more than 38,000 households

Rooftop solar projects on the rise Vietnam is also expected to witness rising adoption of rooftop solar photovoltaics (PVs) in residential and commercial installations, a direction that can further boost the energy sector in the near term. Globally, the market for rooftop solar PV is foreseen to double from US$33.1 billion to US$77.4 billion by 2025 , according to a latest report by Zion Market Research. In Vietnam, rooftop solar power systems are becoming popular against conventional power sources to derive more efficient energy supply and lower transmission costs. The state-owned Vietnam Electricity (EVN) figures the country will have 2,000 MW of rooftop solar power capacity by end of this year. From the second quarter of last year, over 4,000 households had already installed rooftop solar power systems, and the numbers are growing, EVN said, adding that the target of 100,000 rooftop solar systems installation by end of 2025 can be achieved with the policies that support it. Investments to flow into the solar energy sector Vietnam’s undeniably lucrative energy industry is spurring more investments into solar energy. The government has, thus, put some mechanisms in place to stabilise the sector from the spur of investments. In line with this, the government has prioritised the formation of a “post feed-in tariff (FIT) competitive auction regime to attract private sector investment into solar PV development at scale and to achieve the government’s 12 GW target by 2030”, according to the WB’s Maximizing Finance for Development in Vietnam’s Energy Sector report. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020


Country Focus

TTC Energy's Gulf Solar Power facility is expected to directly serve the electricity demand of residents and businesses in Ho Chi Minh City

Everything seems to be falling into place for Vietnam’s energy sector to build up its solar energy plans. Funding from financial institutions is coming in. The WB and the Global Infrastructure Facility’s (GIF) Governing Council have recently approved a US$1.5 million funding to support Vietnam’s Solar Pilot Auction Programme to facilitate its transitioning from a feed-in tariff regime, to a sustainable competitive auction scheme for solar generation. The programme will help to address Vietnam’s increased demand for energy and promote inclusive growth by strengthening the enabling environment for the private sector. Along the same token, Manilaheadquartered Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided a US$37.8 million loan with TTC Energy Development Investment Joint Stock Company (TTC Energy) to develop and operate a 50-MW PV solar power plant in the southern province of Tây Ninh. The Gulf Solar Power facility is expected to directly serve the electricity demand of residents and businesses of the city capital, Ho Chi Minh City (which is about 50 km away from Tây Ninh), and its surrounding areas; and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 29,760 tonnes/year by 2020. Meanwhile, international energy companies are also partaking in Vietnam’s energy sector. Asian renewable energy developer Pacifico Energy operates a 40-MW Mui Ne solar power plant in Phan Thiet city, Binh Thuan province. Built over a 38-ha area, it generates approximately 68 million kWh/year of



electricity, reducing carbon emissions by 55,447 tonnes/year. Vietnam Electricity Corporation will buy all of the electricity generated from the plant for a period of 20 years at US$9.35 per kWh. China’s telecoms provider Huawei and Singapore-headquartered solar project developer and asset manager Hexagon Peak, the project development arm of Hexagon Holdings Singapore, signed a cooperation agreement last year for Hexagon's pipeline of 200 MW utility scale projects in Vietnam, expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. Thus, the global push for renewable energy precipitates more opportunities for Vietnam to becoming a hot spot for solar power to fill the energy needs of its booming manufacturing industries and its expanding population.

Pacifico Energy operates the 40-MW Mui Ne solar power plant in Phan Thiet city

Packaging Sector

Approaches to sustainable packaging Innovative packaging can help counter the rising waste from packaging solutions, especially when recycling is just not enough, says Angelica Buan in this article.

Recycling, just not enough The world had better take heed. By 2050, global waste is likely to heap up by 70%, according to a World Bank report, not unless drastic mitigating measures are taken. The grim forecast has tailpieces of advice, including good waste management systems that behove a circular economy. For a long time, recycling has been in the main frame of waste management and sustainability. However, a few environmental groups have maintained that recycling is not enough and they may be right. Latest data reveals that the global recycling rate stands at a measly 9%, while the remaining greater bulk of the waste pollutes the landfills, dumpsites, or oceans. Globally, while recycling rates vary among countries, a recent report indicated the recycling rates of top recycling countries average around 50%. In the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) Eunomia report (Issue 2), Recycling – who really leads the world?, countries like Germany, Wales, and Singapore had recycled more than 60% of their generated municipal solid wastes (MSW) and this rate was forecast to increase to meet their respective recycling rate targets. Meanwhile, South Korea, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy recycled nearly half their litter. The rest of the world recycled even less. The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), a worldwide alliance of more than 800 grassroots groups, non-governmental organisations, and individuals in over 90 countries, and together with Zero Waste Europe and other global core partners, carried out an extensive research on plastic recycling, including the impact of the China’s ban on imported garbage. The study, published in 2018, concludes that “the only real way to solve the world’s plastic pollution crisis is to simply make less plastic.” In a nutshell, the study pointed out to the use or lighter weight plastic or a combination of materials, colours and additives that are hard to recycle or not recyclable at all as factors impeding recycling. The study also highlighted the maximum recycling level of even the best available recycling technology, which approximates between 36% to 54% for the current mix of plastic used, and the overall increase in plastic production, which outpaces a possible recycling rate of 53% by 2050, as among the reasons that undermine recycling.

To date, the global recycling rate stands at only 9% with the remaining bulk of the wastes pollute the landfills, dumpsites, or oceans

Food packaging designed to be more recyclable The market growth for easy-to-eat food and snacks, which was valued at US$37 billion in 2018 and subsequently envisaged to grow a CAGR of 5.5% through 2025, as gauged in a Market Research Future report, is also driving the consumption of food packaging – and the accumulation of waste packaging. Manufacturers are thus increasing focus on producing and using recyclable packaging to make recycling easier and recycling efforts more effective. UK-headquartered Innovia Films, a manufacturer of biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) films, and German snack manufacturer Wildcorn have produced a fully recyclable and sustainable pack for their Wildcorn organic popcorn range. For the pack, a lamination of Propafilm Strata and a white OPP was used. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020


Packaging Sector The joint project to establish a new sustainable packaging standard followed the launch of Innovia’s Propafilm Strata high barrier film, which obtained the ‘Made for Recycling’ logo from Interseroh, an Independent German recycling and consulting company. Innovia Films said that the new Strata BOPP film has been designed to be a stand-alone mono Wildcorn packs its popcorn product in recyclable packaging film solution or to it developed with Innovia Films be used in laminate constructions to be “recycle ready”, or recyclable in countries, which have the infrastructure to recycle PP. Aside from being recyclable, Innovia Films said that the Propafilm Strata provides an effective barrier to aroma, mineral oils and oxygen, even at high relative humidity levels, ensuring increased shelf life and reduced food waste. Compostable wrapping for fresh produce Growers are continually seeking for the best packaging solutions for their fresh produce to ensure a contaminant and spoilage-free farm-to-market route. Recyclability of packaging is also becoming a prominent factor, especially since the global fresh food packaging market is increasing in value, pegged at nearly US$111 billion in 2018 in a report by Grand View Research. Paper packaging or similar packaging type may not cut it as plastic packaging would, but it has to be recyclable or compostable. An example of this is a compostable shrink wrap that has been developed by Adelaide-based BioBag World Australia, together with IG Fresh Produce, and used for cucumbers sold at a supermarket.

Cucumbers are wrapped in compostable shrink wrap from BioBag World Australia



South Australian BioBag’s Managing Director Scott Morton disclosed a partnership with Qatar Airways, which now uses the compostable packaging to reduce its waste and collect food scraps. Moreover, the compostable packaging is also used for wrapping meats as well as an alternative to traditional mailing films to cover magazines and newspapers. According to BioBag, compostable bags break down into organic matter with no toxic residues. BioBag products comply with the Australian Standard AS4736 indicating that the bags will biodegrade in any environment where there is oxygen and microorganisms, including on land and in water. The company is reportedly ramping up its production with an extruder and conversion machine coming from China. The machines are also expected to enable Biobag to produce more advanced products such as a film that has a barrier property to block gas or moisture. In a related development, in India, a plastic-like film for packaging applications has been developed by experts from the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B). An advantage of this new film, aside from its low cost, is that it degrades from a week to a month into environmentally harmless components. The film is made from a combination of nontoxic, edible sugar-based or fat-based biopolymers approved by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. It has thrice the tensile strength of the widely-used petroleum-based HDPE and the six-times the tensile strength of degradable material PLA, according to IIT-B. The new film will be used as primary packaging material for fresh produce, milk and juices, and fast moving consumer goods.

BASF and Fabbri have developed a certified compostable cling film for fresh-food packaging

German company BASF and Fabbri Group have developed a sustainable solution for cling film used in fresh-food packaging: Based on BASF’s certified compostable ecovio, Fabbri produces the highly transparent stretch film Nature Fresh. Meat, seafood as well as fruit and vegetables can be wrapped manually or with automatic packaging equipment. Industrial stretch packaging is also possible.

Packaging Sector It is said to be the first certified compostable cling film that combines optimal breathability for an extended shelf life of fresh food with high transparency and excellent mechanical properties for automatic packaging. Nature Fresh is food-contact approved according to US and European standards. With this property profile, the film helps to keep food fresh for a longer period of time when compared to PVC alternatives used for cling film such as PE. As a consequence, the greenhouse gas emissions originating from food that is produced and distributed - but ultimately wasted - can be reduced, says BASF. After use, Nature Fresh can be composted together with any food waste in home compost or industrial compost according to national legislation. It thus enables organic recycling and helps closing the nutrient loop towards a Circular Economy, according to BASF. Carsten Sinkel from Global Business Development Biopolymers at BASF says: “We observe a changing market environment: The market is looking for alternatives to PVC that is today’s performance standard for most cling film packaging of fresh produce. PE films are lacking in performance, often leading to a reduced shelf life of packed fresh food. This results in considerable greenhouse gas emissions from food waste: fruits and vegetables, for example, are responsible for 33% greenhouse gas emissions from all food waste globally.” The EU Waste Framework Directive promotes solutions to reduce food waste and increase organic waste collection. Stefano Mele, CEO at Fabbri Group: “The Fabbri new way to sustainability is combining our Nature Fresh solution with our new Automac NF wrappers so that the food packaging industry can benefit twice: from an innovative cling film and easy film processing. In this way our certified compostable cling film can be used together with trays and labels of the same kind in order to have a complete compostable packaging.” Fabbri offers Nature Fresh in four different formats: as rolls for manual or automatic packaging machines in industrial food packaging, for cutter boxes in hotels, restaurants and catering services, as jumbo rolls for converters as well as rolls for end consumer hand-wrapping applications. Fibre-based products as novel solutions The growing consumer fervour for sustainable packaging has unravelled the market potential of fibrebased packaging, used for food & beverage, chemical and construction industry applications. Thus, given the above, the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI) has formed an industry alliance, 4evergreen, which aims to “increase awareness about the benefits of fibre-based packaging materials and advocate for EU legislation supporting product design for recyclability and call for the development of optimised collection systems and appropriate recycling infrastructures”. The first 4evergreen alliance members include big names like Nestlé, Danone, Mars, Stora Enso, Smurfit

Stora Enso’s DuraSense is a biocomposite material that combines wood fibres and polymers

Kappa, Sappi, Metsä Board, UPM, Mayr-Melnhof Group, Reno de Medici, Mondi, Burgo, Kotkamills, DS Smith, Heinzel, Ahlstrom Munksjö, International Paper, BillerudKorsnäs, Huhtamäki, SEDA, SIG Combibloc, Tetra Pak, Elopak, Walki, Schur Group, Cardbox Packaging, Firstan, WestRock, Leonhard Kurz Stiftung & Co, Graphic Packaging International, AR Packaging, Baumer hhs, Van Genechten Packaging, Sonoco, and VTT. According to CEPI, 4evergreen was created as a forum to engage and connect industry members from across the fibre-based packaging value chain, from paper and board producers to packaging converters, brand-owners and retailers, technology and material suppliers, waste sorters and collectors. Among the frontrunners in the 4evergreen agenda include Finnish member, Ahlstrom-Munksjö, which in 2019 introduced several sustainable products such as the CelluStraw, designed to address the phasing out of single-use plastic straws. It also developed fibre-based packaging tape solutions to replace plastic tapes and increase the contribution to the circular economy.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö's CelluStraw is designed to address the phasing out of single-use plastic straws

Another Finnish company and alliance member, Stora Enso, and dairy products manufacturer and packaging solutions company Valio are on a mission to test how biocomposite fibre functions when combined with food packaging. The partners applied the biocomposite to packaging lids and thousands of these lids have been distributed to their customers via Valio’s promotional sales demonstrations early this year. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020


Packaging Sector The lids are durable, washable and made from Stora Enso’s DuraSense, a biocomposite material that combines wood fibres and polymers. According to Valio’s Packaging Development Manager, Jussi-Pekka Lumme, in 2018 the company switched to full plant-based packaging in all its 250 million gable-top milk, yoghurt, cream, and sour milk packages, as part of its goal to “reset milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035”. Developing innovative solutions that help food chains respond to consumer demands for sustainable selections is, meanwhile, Stora Enso’s aim, said the company’s Executive Vice President, Packaging Materials, Hannu Kasurinen. Cost savings with returnable/reusable packaging The environmental and logistics benefits of returnable or reusable packaging for manufacturers, which include cost savings and waste and carbon reduction, favour its market growth, which Markets and Markets forecast to cross US$51 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2018. Returnable packaging comprises durable containers that are intended to be reused several times. Brazilian beverages company Ambev is tackling plastic pollution with returnable packaging. In line with its 2025 sustainable packaging target to eliminate plastic containers and increase recycling, the São Paulo-headquartered brewer is partnering with stakeholders, including suppliers, recycling cooperatives, start-ups and universities to have all its beverages either in returnable packaging or made of 100% recycled material. Currently, 40% of Ambev’s beer products use returnable packaging. In the same token, Swiss food and beverage company and 4evergreen member Nestlé, is also pursuing to have 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.

The company is reducing its use of single-use plastics by introducing reusable packaging that will subsequently reduce its use of virgin plastics by a third by 2025. Its investment amounting to CHF2 billion, which was announced early this year, is also directed towards the shift from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics, and to accelerate the development of innovative packaging solutions, it said. Aside from collaborative activities with value chain partners, industry associations and the opening of the Institute of Packaging in 2019, Nestlé said it has enforced collection, sorting and recycling schemes across the countries where it operates. Large corporations need to do more In a 2019 report from GAIA entitled, Plastics Exposed: How Waste Assessments and Brand Audits are Helping Philippine Cities Fight Plastic Pollution, Nestlé, together with British-Dutch consumer goods manufacturer Unilever topped the list of sources of plastic pollution in waste audits done in the Philippines. In the said report, Nestlé accounted for 8.12% of the total residual waste and 14.86% of all branded residual wastes.

Greenpeace urges corporations like Unilever, reported being a top polluter in the Philippines, to phase out single-use plastics

Nestlé aims to have 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025



Environmental group Greenpeace decried how these corporations aggravated the plastic pollution situation in countries like the Philippines, also a top consumer for single-use packaging. “We need these corporations to take bold and immediate action to phase out singleuse plastics for the sake of impacted communities,” Greenpeace stated. With targets set to increase the use of recyclable, compostable, and returnable packaging, it is the packaging industry’s way of saying that it is headed towards the direction of zero-waste.

Injection Moulding Asia Composites

Driving forward carbon emission goals with automotive composites The popularity of composites use in electric

vehicle parts is hinged on the global impetus of lowering carbon impact of road transport, says Angelica Buan in this report.


oad transport accounts for 17% of global carbon emissions, according to the United Nations’ climate change report, and so it is imperative that the automotive industry must transition to low carbon vehicles that correspond to the global climate protection goals, such as keeping the global average temperature below 2°C preindustrial levels. The ambitious goal, however, can be achieved by making basic changes; starting from improving the fuel efficiency of vehicles. Light weight in vehicles translates to fuel efficiency. This, thus, spurs the demand for composite materials for automotive applications. The market for automotive composites is projected to cross US$10.2 billion by 2025, as suggested in a Global Industry Analyst report. Of the composite types, thermoplastics and reinforced fibre-glass are garnering favour from automotive makers as materials that deliver the light weight and tensile strength required for fuel economy. In this regard, electric and hybrid vehicles that are posting increasing adoption, are driving consumption for composites, especially for the reduction of weight from batteries and hybrid powertrains.

Solvay’s DDF can enable the automotive, as well as the aerospace, industries to ramp up their production of cost-effective composite parts

Belgian chemicals company Solvay, for its part, has introduced its Double Diaphragm Forming (DDF) automated demonstrator line located at its Heanor, UK site. The fully automated line, combined with Solvay’s fast curing technologies, goes from raw material to cured parts within a 3-minute takt time, opening new opportunities for high rate composite part manufacture. Just like Solvay’s fast cure prepregs, the DDF can enable the automotive, as well as the aerospace, industries to ramp up their production of cost-effective composite parts. Tougher and better than steel Apart from weight savings, composite materials offer structural advantage that is comparable to steel and other injection moulded vehicle parts; plus cost reduction benefits and recyclability. In undertaking sampling of composites for its vehicles, Ford Motors obtains materials, for the mass production of the door module carrier for its compact Ford Focus, from Kingfa Sci & Tech Co and its subsidiary, Guangzhou Kingfa Carbon Fibre Materials Development.

Revolutionary processes in full gear In a near future scenario, the large scale adoption for automotive composites may press for a reliable as well as cost-effective supply of the materials. Recently, new facilities and technologies are being made available to produce composites and to ensure that automotive makers can optimise the benefits of using these materials. UK-headquartered composites components manufacturer TRB Lightweight Structures is opening a composites manufacturing centre in Richmond, Kentucky, US, as a joint venture with US-based distribution company Toyota Tsusho America. The approximately 3, 716 sq m facility will be equipped with robotics to allow high volume production of carbon fibre components using TRB’s press-forming process, initially for automotive applications for the North American market. TRB’s production process allows carbon fibre to be press-formed using advanced industrial robotics, thus allowing components to be manufactured at a similar price point to equivalent aluminium parts.

Using composites from Kingfa, Brose designed the door module carrier of the Ford Focus with considerable weight savings of about 35%


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Injection Moulding Asia Composites Kingfa has worked closely with German system supplier Brose Fahrzeugteile to develop its new continuous fibre-reinforced material called KingPly. Brose designed the door module carrier with considerable weight savings of about 35%, compared to a standard injection-moulded door module carrier and reduced the car weight of the four-door Ford Focus model by more than 1 kg, compared to a PP-LGF30 door module carrier. And compared to a standard metal door concept without the plastic carrier, the composite design could reduce the car weight by more than 5 kg. The new composite materials are based on UD layers. In the case of the door module, a thin but strong multi-layer material is composed to give the part stiffness and strength, Kingfa said. The door module has many requirements, namely, stiffness, strength, noise & vibration (NVH), acoustics and also sealing, as the carrier is on the division line between dry and wet within the door structure. The usual material is a PP matrix and continuous glass fibre as reinforcement. The sheets are cut to the exact dimensions needed in the injection moulding tool, so that no cutting and waste is generated during production. On another note, composites are being used for batteries of electric vehicles to lower the weight. Germany-headquartered manufacturer of carbon products SGL Carbon has been commissioned by a North American automotive maker for composite battery enclosures. The enclosures’ top and bottom layers are to be made with carbon and fibreglass composites, and assembled components come from SGL Carbon’s fully integrated chain. SGL Carbon also said that it has won a smaller volume contract from a European sports car manufacturer to serially produce bottom layers made of composite as of mid-2020. The company is additionally in talks with further automotive makers to develop and manufacture battery enclosure solutions for their electric car platforms.

One key part of any electric car chassis platform is the enclosure of the battery, which usually occupies most of the space in the underfloor of the chassis and has various specific requirements far beyond low weight. As well, the battery cases need to be stiff to support driving dynamics, SGL said. Further, composites can meet the material requirement to protect the underbody against impact, enable an optimised thermal management and offer fire protection as well as complete water and gas impermeability. Sustainable composites for automotive parts As the autonomous and electric mobility trends continue on track, comfort and safety remain as constant considerations. The use of composites provides additional layers of benefits such as recyclability and performance. Thermoplastic composites are favoured for their sustainability features, and the market demand says it all. According to Markets and Markets, thermoplastic composites market size is estimated to grow from US$28 billion in 2019 to US$36 billion by 2024.

Covestro’s Maezio CFRTP material is used for the lightweight composite seat back of a Chinese concept car

In light of this growing trend, leading industry players are working together to maximise the potentials of thermoplastic composites for automotive parts. German chemicals company Covestro has partnered with the R&D Centre of Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) to develop a lightweight composite seat back for the Chinese car manufacturer’s latest electric concept car, the ENO.146, utilising Covestro’s Maezio carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) material. The concept car has a drag coefficient of only 0.146 and an NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) range of 1,000 km, according to GAC. The backrests of the two front seats of the concept car are made of Maezio. The CFRTP enables up to 50% savings in weight, compared to typical metal constructions. In the case of a seat with a metal backrest, fittings and other attachments add to the complexity of

SGL is producing composite battery enclosures for a North American company


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Injection Moulding Asia Composites production and assembly, Covestro said. Since Maezio is a thermoplastic material, parts and functions can be consolidated by injection moulding. Functional structures are incorporated into the mould for shaping the backrest, reducing the number of parts and materials. Moreover, Maezio can be cut and shaped at will, to be reused at the end of its service life. Reinventing the wheel The global automotive industry is seeking lightweight solutions. When it comes to wheels, which represent one of the most important mass on a vehicle due to their rotating known as unsprung nature, a one-piece carbon composite technology is an emerging choice for global car makers. This is the basis of the collaboration between German chemical and consumer goods company Henkel and Australian manufacturer of one-piece automotive carbon composite wheels Carbon Revolution in setting up a dedicated manufacturing facility at Henkel’s existing plant near Melbourne.

Porsche has used natural fibre composites in a sportscar model

Henkel and Carbon Revolution joined forces for the manufacture of carbonfibre composite wheels that can offer up to 50% weight savings

material for its concept car doors. The Bioconcept-Car’s driver and passenger doors and rear wing are made using a mixture of organic fibres derived from vegetables that will result in light weight vehicle bodies. The organic composites improve the ecological impact of industrial high-performance composite materials during manufacturing, use and disposal. Further, the use of renewable raw materials is economical because natural flax, hemp, wood and jute fibres are less expensive than carbon fibres and require less energy to manufacture, Porsche intoned. It also adds that notwithstanding the additional advantages in industrial processing, other benefits include the naturally grown structure of organic composites that gives materials acoustic damping properties and reduces splintering, which is important in the event of a collision. Porsche and the Fraunhofer WKI team have tested the organic materials on various Porsche cars and have continued to fine-tune the material properties. In the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, the first car in series production to feature body parts made of a natural-fibre composite material, the driver and passenger doors as well as the rear wing are made using a mixture of organic fibres. The Cayman weighs in at only 1,320 kg, Porsche said. A factor here is the 60% weight saving resulting from the use of organic composite materials instead of steel in the doors. This positive development on biofibre composite for automotive application has imbued recognition from the German Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture BMEL, which promotes the development of biogenic light-weight components in the funding programme “Renewable Resources” with the central coordinating agency for renewable resources Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe eV FNR. All the above factors bode well for the future growth of the organic composites materials industry.

Single piece carbon fibre composite wheels can offer up to 40 to 50% weight savings, relative to conventional aluminium wheels, and an attractive surface finish. Carbon Revolution commented that carbon wheels can make a significant contribution to minimising the energy consumed when spinning the wheels up and dragging them back down every time the car is accelerated or slowed. This saves fuel on combustion engine vehicles and battery power on hybrid and fully electric vehicles, maximising their range. Henkel’s material technology also adds to the overall reduction of NVH, when compared to steel or aluminium wheels, which means automotive makers can save weight on additional sound insulation. Opening doors for organic materials Automotive makers are complying with the tight environmental and sustainability regulations by utilising green technology and developing renewably-sourced composites. For this reason, car maker Porsche worked with researchers at Fraunhofer WKI to develop a biofibre 3 JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020

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Injection Moulding Asia 3D Printing

Advancements in 3D printing The 3D-printing market is escalating and

Set up in 2013, 3D Hubs has raised more than US$30 million and produced more than 4 million parts, using various manufacturing technologies, including CNC machining, 3D printing, injection moulding and sheet metal fabrication. The report, 3D Printing Trends 2020, includes insights from the company’s own order database and a review of news and market analyst reports.

as adoption steadily increases, the total 3D printing market will continue to double in

size every three years, according to market

reports. Against this backdrop, various new materials are being introduced to keep pace

Effective shoe manufacturing with 3D printing The manufacture of a shoe requires a multitude of work steps, some of which are carried out by hand. This makes production time-consuming and expensive. In the finished product, various materials are sewn together and glued together, so that it is virtually impossible to recycle them by type at the end of their useful life. Using 3D printing, shoes could be made from only two parts – upper and sole. German materials firm Covestro has developed a material that enables automated production at lower cost and complete recyclability of the finished shoe. A powder and a filament, both based on thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), proved to be the material of choice for meeting all the above requirements. The plastic offers high rebound and abrasion resistance and is therefore ideally suited for the production of both shoe parts. In addition, the shoe can later be recycled in a single step, including the polyurethane adhesive used for production – an important milestone towards recycling. Old shoes are thus turned into filaments for new shoes.

with the growth.

Trends in 3D printing Additive manufacturing/3D printing is growing in the plastics processing sector. Where once it was limited to prototyping and batch production, today it is beginning to be used for the manufacture of complex parts. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global 3D printing market size was US$9 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach US$34 billion by 2024. Factors such as ease in development of customised products, reduction in manufacturing cost and process downtime, government investments in 3D printing projects, and development of new industrial-grade 3D printing materials are driving the growth of the 3D printing industry. Currently, the trend in the 3D printing applications is shifting from prototyping to functional part manufacturing in various verticals, such as automotive, medical, aerospace, and consumer goods. The total value of 3D-printed parts increased 300% in 2019, moving away from the highvolume, low-value consumer market in favour of professional users’ workflows, says a report by 3D Hubs, a Dutch online manufacturing platform. It adds that in 2019 alone, a record amount of US$1.1 billion was raised by 3D-printing startups, with applications of 3D printing attracting the largest number of investors. In terms of regions, North America and Europe are leading in online 3D printing, with more than 95% of global demand, while US accounts for nearly 50% of the global online 3D printing demand.

Covestro has developed a material that enables automated production at lower cost and complete recyclability of the finished shoe


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Injection Moulding Asia 3D Printing 3D printing via film extrusion Thermoplastic films can be processed much more efficiently using 3D printing rather than filaments. This is the result of a new development from Covestro. “The throughput of a print head for films is significantly higher than that of a print head for filaments,” explains Jonas Kuenzel, Technical Development for additive manufacturing, Covestro. “In addition, the production of the films is more cost-effective than filament production, and their storage requires less space. Compared to the standard filament production, extruded films also provide a higher precision, with virtually no deviations in film thickness. The use of films also opens up completely new possibilities for the combination of materials.” Covestro says it has developed a special print head for additive manufacturing using these semi-finished products, which can easily replace a conventional print head. The film passes through a cooled area into a heating zone, where it melts under the influence of the supplied thermal energy and becomes liquid. As usual, the melt is discharged via a defined nozzle geometry and processed into the product.

room temperature, this method is currently the most productive and most scalable method for 3D printing. The method has been used with great success for several years in mould-making, for example in the printing of sand casting moulds and cores. However, the previously available material systems for producing industrial final parts are mostly not suitable in terms of their mechanical properties. German speciality chemicals company Lanxess is offering the next generation of Low Free (LF) isocyanate urethane prepolymers that can be formulated into resins for 3D printing. In order to create such resins Lanxess says it works together with 3D printing companies. Based on Adiprene LF pPDI (para-phenylene diisocyanate) prepolymers, these resins are said to be easy to process and safe for industrial manufacturers as well as for the casual home, office or retail user. The footwear industry is a key user of 3D printing technology for midsole, upper, and structural components such as heels and toes. Footwear components are designed to require both very soft and more rigid elastomers. The wide flexibility to formulate LF prepolymers into printable resins enables 3D printers to drive toward mass customization, enabling printing across a wide range of hardness from very soft elastomers for cushioning to the more structural shoe elements. High flexural strength and a wide range of use-temperatures are important to the performance of these components. Adiprene LF pPDI prepolymers are designed to provide superior resistance to low and high temperatures, excellent toughness, and superior resistance to chemicals and abrasion. With excellent property retention up to 6 weeks at 150°C, athletic shoes, for example, can be stored in a hot car for long time periods without losses. In addition, footwear components benefit from higher flexural fatigue resistance and cold temperature flex performance down to - 20 °C. Casual users in desktop 3D printing want simple, easy to use resins that increase their manufacturing productivity. This means resins must be liquid at room temperature, or have a low melting point (< 40 °C), and they must have very low viscosity (< 3000 cP). One-component (1K) resins can be plugged directly into the machine without the need for blending or mixing. Lanxess says it is the only manufacturer to offer Low Free (LF) isocyanate prepolymer systems based on pPDI, with global production capacity, and fast, customised development of new products for specific customer needs.

New materials to cater to wider needs BASF 3D Printing Solutions (B3DPS) under its new Forward AM corporate brand, has introduced an advanced flexible coating: well suited to flexible materials such as elastic Ultrasint TPU 01, developed in collaboration with HP for its Jet Fusion 3D-printer. The new coating can be used in special applications and will be available from Forward AM in black, white, metallic silver, and transparent. Forward AM is also set to expand its thermoplastic Ultrafuse filament portfolio significantly, starting with the test-marketing of Ultrafuse TPU 95A, Ultrafuse ABS ESD and Ultrafuse PEI 9085. The company will be making sample volumes available as of 2020, with larger volumes provided from the end of Q1 2020. Meanwhile, Creavis, the innovation unit of the speciality chemicals company Evonik, and Voxeljet AG, based in Friedberg, Bavaria, Germany, have entered into a collaboration to develop material systems for the next generation of the binder-jetting method in 3D printing. Binder-jetting involves a powder being applied in layers and being bonded with a binding agent that is printed on precisely by an inkjet print head in accordance with the particular part. Thanks to the use of large-scale and rapid inkjet technology and printing at 5 JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2020

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Injection Moulding Asia 3D Printing “Due to physical limitations, most classic 3D filament printers are not suitable for processing soft TPEs. In addition, it’s only possible to draw fairly limited conclusions from prototypes made of special 3D printing materials in relation to the performance of standard injection molding or extrusion compounds,” says Dr Thomas Wagner from Product Management EMEA at Kraiburg TPE. “The challenge we faced was to precisely analyse the prerequisites for fused deposition modelling of soft TPEs. In order to find a suitable solution, we had to learn to separate the technical limitations of the printers from those of the materials.” The current series of PAM granule printers produce detailed surfaces even with very soft TPEs and are able to process up to four materials at the same time. In this way, typical hard–soft multicomponent composites made of TPEs in combination with plastics such as PP, ABS or PA are also possible. “Our PAM printers ensure the shortest possible residence times to avoid affecting the specific advantages of soft elastomers,” explains Didier Fonta, Head of Operations at Pollen AM. “This also ensures excellent peel strength, particularly for multicomponent applications with thermoplastic elastomers in the low Shore hardness range.” Tests performed jointly by Kraiburg and Pollen AM have resulted in convincing prints featuring mechanical properties that achieve up to 50% of the values shown by comparable injection moulding, depending on the process parameters. This means that the provided TPE compounds are carefully chosen and processed, so the technology is suitable for producing both demonstration samples and also functional prototypes and is thus able to reduce the costs of developing new applications. Since almost all TPEs that Kraiburg has in its portfolio are potential materials for direct processing on PAM granule printers, no special compounds are needed. Additionally, all features of the materials, especially their adhesion possibilities on various thermoplastics, are maintained in 3D printing with PAM granule printers. Residues that may arise during production can be recycled in local waste streams, adds the German TPE maker.

Clariant has a newly-developed fire, smoke and toxicity compliant 3D printing material

Swiss firm Clariant has a new halogen-free flame retardant 3D printing material, PA6/66GF20 FR LS using Exolit flame retardant material. It is compliant with EN 45545-2, NFPA 130 (ASTM E162, ASTM E662) and SMP 800-C. This material was designed specifically for 3D printing to achieve ideal mechanical properties with flame retardancy, low smoke and low toxicity. TPEs take to 3D printing Elsewhere, German firm Kraiburg TPE has performed extensive tests to examine the suitability of its thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) for use in 3D printing. The tests have shown that almost all of the company’s TPEs can be processed using fused deposition modelling (FDM) on the pellet additive manufacturing (PAM) system from French 3D printer manufacturer Pollen AM.

Kraiburg TPEs can be used in FDM


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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • UK polymers company Synthomer has received conditional clearance from the European Commission (EC) regarding its proposed acquisition of Omnova Solutions for an enterprise value of US$824 million. Omnova is a US-based speciality chemical company involved in emulsion polymers, speciality chemicals and decorative products. Following its Phase 1 investigation, the Ec concluded that the transaction, as modified by the commitments offered by Synthomer, does not raise any competition concerns. The commitments require divestment of Synthomer’s small VP Latex business in Germany, which represents less than 0.5% of Synthomer’s business. It has already received a number of enquiries for this business and will now proceed with the sale, with completion of the Omnova acquisition expected late Q1 2020. • Sri Lankan tyre maker GRI has acquired the forklift segment of Australian Axis Industrial Tyres that includes the four branches of Axis in Altona and Braeside, Melbourne, the Sydney branch and in Adelaide. GRI is adding the four Axis branches to its own branch in Brisbane. Terms were not disclosed. Axis Tyres, which is a subsidiary of Tradefaire International, operates in many business segments including forklift tyres, truck tyres, agriculture tyres and off-the-road tyres. Its operations span over several locations in Australia. Last year, GRI also acquired Estonia-based

Nortire Group. It includes a branch in Latvia and two branches in Lithuania. GRI has offices in six countries and sales in over 50 countries around the world. It produces agriculture, construction and material handling tyres. • US-based Terre Haute Economic Development has approved almost US$70 million revenue bonds to finance the construction of a recycled carbon black (rCB) plant in Terre Haute, Indiana, by rCB manufacturer Pyrolyx. The facility will break ground in the first quarter of 2020 and be operational by the second quarter of 2021. When completed, the second Pyrolyx plant is to have a production capacity of 13,000 tonnes/year of rCB. Last year, the Germanybased parent company of Pyrolyx also signed a fiveyear agreement with tyre maker Continental to supply increasing amounts of rCB to its tyre plants worldwide. • Japan-based Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) is to set up a natural rubber procurement subsidiary in Singapore to ensure a stable supply of the raw material after suspected declines in production by major Asian producers. It will officially start operations in April 2020 with a capital of US$18 million. Previously, the procurement was handled by the NR Division of the company’s tyre subsidiary Sumitomo Rubber Asia. • Australian tyre recycler Green Distillation Technologies (GDT) will build its first plant in the US, in addition to securing

funding of up to US$100 million for other plants in the US. GDT will apply its proprietary technology that recycles end-of-life tyres into oil, carbon and steel. Meanwhile, GDT is planning to scale up production at its plant in Western New South Wales and another planned facility in South Queensland, within the next two years, at a projected cost of US$20 million. GDT has further explored other potential plant locations to handle about 30% of the 25 million/year end-of-life tyres Australia generates. • During the second half of 2019, Scandinavian tyre recycler Enviro Systems continued negotiations with WindSpace A/S from Denmark and TreadCraft Ltd regarding the establishment of local vehicle tyre recycling facilities based on Enviro’s technology. The earlier negotiations with EE-TDF Cleveland have been halted for reasons of prioritisation. Enviro says it has negotiated with WindSpace the longest over the past 1.5 years, with no assessment of when a final agreement might be reached, and is continuing negotiations with TreadCraft. • Following its double-digit million euro investment and after less than 18 months of construction, German materials company Evonik has officially opened its new multi-purpose silicones manufacturing facility in Geesthacht, Germany. Located in Northern Germany, 30 km outside the port city of Hamburg, commissioning of the facility’s new tank

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News farm started last December and incremental production increases are planned over the coming months. There has now almost been 35 years of continuous chemical production at the site, producing components and raw materials for the manufacture of sealants and adhesives, moulding and casting compounds, and other products. • The Egyptian Ministry of Military Production has tied up with Chinese manufacturer Poly Group to set up a passenger tyre manufacturing plant in Egypt. The new plant is to produce around 3 million tyres/ year and will reduce Egypt’s dependence on imported tyres, which reached US$186 million in 2018. However, the parties did not disclose information pertaining to tyre manufacturing technology to be used in the plant, which would be the second such facility in Egypt, after an existing plant in Alexandria, part of Prometeon Tyre Group. • China’s rubber tracks and rubber pads maker Global Track Manufacturing will invest US$2.5 million in a production plant in Tennessee, US, touted to bring at least 250 jobs to the area by 2021, according to the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). Installation of the first Global Track manufacturing facility in the US is currently underway and initial production is expected to start in the summer of 2020. The new plant will be located on the 530,000-sq ft site of the

former Tower Automotive facility, which the Chinese manufacturer purchased in 2017, and is to produce rubber tracks for large OEMs such as Case and John Deere upon completion. • The joint venture between Evonik and Chinese company Wynca, Evonik Wynca (Zhenjiang) Silicon Material, has officially started the construction on a new fumed silica plant in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, China. Scheduled to become operational in 2021 with a projected output of 9,000 tonnes/year, the new plant will produce fumed silica marketed under the name Aerosil, to fulfil the market demand for silicones, coatings and paints, modern adhesives and gel batteries in China. The joint venture will combine Evonik’s advanced product technology with local silicone industry value chain formed by Wynca, building a production facility for fumed silica products by utilising chlorosilanes from Wynca. Meanwhile, the by-product hydrochloric acid will also be fully utilised as a raw material for Wynca Zhenjiang Site. This integrated production loop is expected to make full use of by-products from each side and achieve resource recycling and synergies among organic silicon monomer, chlorosilane and fumed silica production. • China-based tyre manufacturer Guizhou Tyre has broken ground on two new production plants near the company’s headquarters in Guizhou, Guiyang Province. Once constructed and fully operational, the

US$307 million plant is expected to generate nearly US$426 million annually from the 3 million-odd truck/bus tyres produced. The new plant will mark the final phase of Guizhou Tyre’s relocation programme in the homeland, and also includes the construction of a separate, US$41 million factory to manufacture about 5,000 “giant engineering tyres”, with completion in 2021. In addition, Guizhou Tyre’s US$214 million Vietnam unit is predicted bring in about US$150 million from overseas sales. The plant is located in Long Giang Industrial Park in Tien Giang Province and has a capacity of 1.2 million units of truck/bus tyres/year. • Sweden-based Trelleborg’s Marine and Infrastructure operations is to locally produce its Gina Gaskets – vital components of construction – for various Chinese landmark projects including the ShenZhong Link project in Guangdong Province, touted to be the largest and widest immersed tunnel in the world. The supply agreement follows a contract with China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and Guangzhou Salvage, which will see Trelleborg’s facilities in Ridderkerk, the Netherlands, and Qingdao, Shandong Province, following an expansion of its manufacturing capacity, take up production of the gaskets. Trelleborg also launched its new manufacturing line in Qingdao in December 2019, with the launch marking production of the facility’s first-ever Gina Gasket for the Chinese market.

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Rubber Journal Asia Gloves Sector

A helping hand for Malaysian gloves growth Scarcity and viral infections may bring out

of China was estimated at only two to six pieces of gloves (one to three pairs), according to reports; but nitrile rubber prices were on a decline by 2-4% as butadiene prices slipped, which lent to an optimistic prospect for nitrile gloves production. Nitrile gloves production accounted for nearly more than half of the total gloves production of Malaysia’s top gloves producers, Hartalega (95%), Top Glove (45%) and Kossan (75%). And as the year 2019 drew to a close, the gloves sector faced yet a few major issues. In October, it was made known how the acute labour shortage was affecting the rubber gloves businesses. For the gloves sector, the Malaysian government’s direction to reduce reliance on cheap, foreign labour had come to a head. With fewer workers, Margma slashed its output target by 3.6% to 188 billion pieces. Meanwhile, the gloves sector dealt with another labourrelated issue. Earlier in the year, Selangor-based WRP Asia Pacific was accused of labour exploitation sparked by a threeday strike staged by nearly 2,000 Nepali migrant workers, who alleged that the company failed to pay them three months’ worth of wages. This, as well, as other incidences like unfair labour practices, was confirmed by an investigation carried out by the Human Resource Ministry. And, thus, shipments of gloves from the accused company to the US were banned by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency due to this claim of forced labour. Just three months after the ban, WRP Asia Pacific temporarily shelved its operations, which it reasoned was due to financial constraints. The issue, however, has cast doubts on the labour practices within the sector.

the best and the worst in situations, but for Malaysia’s glove sector, it is the catalyst to its continued growth, says Angelica Buan.


hen the Covid-19 (new coronavirus disease) epicentre, Wuhan in Hubei, China, was placed on cordon sanitaire, Malaysia was among the countries that responded to the call for medical supplies by providing rubber gloves, face masks and other medical protective equipment. Millions of rubber gloves were pooled from the country’s leading gloves manufacturers, and the donors included Smart Glove, Top Glove, Hartalega Holdings, Supermax, and Kossan Latex Industries. In collaboration with the Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council (MREPC), the gloves were shipped to China, which up to now has been containing the spread of the viral infection. Against the angst of a shortage of medical supplies, expressing its assurance, the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (Margma) stated that the country, which supplies 63% of the global requirement for medical gloves, churning out 180 billion pieces/year, is ready to produce adequate volumes of gloves amid the WHO’s remark on a potential shortage of protective paraphernalia. Burgeoning growth in gloves sector Malaysian glove manufacturers, while in accord with the global concern against the coronavirus malady, are also witnessing surging sales of gloves. According to Margma, global demand for rubber gloves demand has shot up by 100% as countries worldwide are also employing measures to counter or prevent incidences of infections. China now is requiring more gloves, which Margma said may nearly double from the current per capita consumption of 10 pieces (five pairs) of gloves for its population of 1.6 billion. Top Glove, the world’s foremost supplier of disposable rubber gloves, has said that orders from China have doubled their usual volume over the past month. Top Glove had forecast a 10% to 15% rise in rubber glove sales for the year ending August 2020, but expects more sales, depending on the severity of the outbreak. Already, the company is making plans to expand its capacity to 91.4 billion units by the end of 2021, up roughly 30% from the current 70.5 billion.

Rebounding from market setbacks Providing relief from a turbulent past year, the US-China trade war, a bane for many industries worldwide, became a boon for the Malaysian glove makers. The higher tariff of 15% imposed by the US that started in September last year on China-made products, including medical gloves, gives Malaysia an edge in a disrupted supply chain as US buyers have sought alternative sources in Asia. According to a recent Fitch Solutions Macro Research report, the US imported medical gloves worth US$2 billion in 2018, and around three-quarters of the bulk came from Malaysia and 11% from China. The report also saw this development as a respite for the industry that was previously hit by rising raw material costs and over capacities. For the current year, Margma has forecast a better market performance, with projection of an export revenue reaching nearly RM21 billion, which would surpass the RM18 billion target. The positive developments in the market will highlight Malaysia’s prominence as the world’s leading producer of gloves, and at the same time enforce its gloves sector’s commitment to the business of saving lives.

The year of challenges: labour issues If 2020 is setting out with an increased demand for gloves that is nearly outpacing supply, the opposite was marked the previous year. In July 2019, for example, gloves manufacturers contended with an oversupply situation. During that period, the glove consumption per capita


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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber

Medical care improved with silicones Silicones, owing to their unique qualities,

enhance the efficiency of advanced medical technologies, says Angelica Buan in this article.


oday’s fast-paced lifestyle predisposes populations to a myriad of health conditions that often go unchecked until it’s too late. Debilitating conditions can have a massive impact on a patient’s quality of life. But with today’s advances in medical technologies, aided by suitable materials such as silicone, getting back the quality of life at posttreatment is already possible. Medical grade silicones demonstrate desired properties such as biocompatibility, flexibility, sterilisability, tensile strength, thermal stability, and conductivity, among other factors that make them suited for implantable and non-implantable medical devices. For this reason, the medical grade silicone market is projected to fetch over US$1.7 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 5.9% from 2020, according to a report from IndustryArc. Similarly, silicones also headlined in various new technologies for medical applications to enhance the effectiveness in patient care outcomes.

Elkem’s new Silbione Biomedical heat-cured rubber (HCR) product range features high tear strength for demanding implant applications

for applications implanted in the body longer than 30 days; and is ideal for extruding multi-lumen, co-extruded, braided, pump and thin wall tubing. End product examples may include ports, catheters, wound drains, stents, and shunts for a broad range of implantable medical intervention solutions. Trelleborg, a Swedish specialist in engineered polymer solutions, has developed a range of speciality tubing and hose, which include multilumen, flexible, kink-resistant and silicone tubing with a plastic core for minimally invasive instruments, catheters and probes. The medical silicone tubes are designed for long-term implants, Trelleborg stated. Due to the biocompatibility and physical resistance, the silicone tubes play an important role in medical applications, both as conduits to transport liquid and as insulators for cables and sensors. The products must meet highprecision control and process stability demands, and also be implantable for up to several years. Additionally, these long-term implantable silicone products are processed in cleanroom environments.

New offerings for implants Implantable medical devices such as prosthetics, dental equipment, stents and others, which account for a significant share in the medical silicones market, are projected to fetch a CAGR of 7.3% by 2026 or nearly US$154 billion from 2019, as cited by a report from Acumen Research and Consulting. It adds that the demand for implants will be rising in proportion to the prevalence of chronic conditions such as cardiac and bone disorders. Companies that are continuously developing advanced implantable devices materials are also contributing to this billion-dollar growth. Norwegian silicone supplier Elkem has recently introduced the Silbione Biomedical HCRA M500 series, a new heat cured rubber (HCR) product line that features high tear strength for demanding implant applications and fast, easy processing for improved productivity. Elkem, which is acquiring Chinese silicone elastomer & resins material manufacturer Polysil, furthers that the new silicone series is designed

Tube with a twist Freudenberg Medical, a global developer and manufacturer of medical devices, components, and minimally invasive solutions, has developed a multilumen silicone tubing called HelixTwist, which was designed to prevent kinks or blocked lumens by providing an equal balance of stress across the inner and outer lumens as the tube bends.


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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber that would meet the increasing demand for flexible, breathable wound dressings to minimise scarring, reduce the risk of infection and accelerate healing. The wafer-thin silicone gel films containing active pharmaceutical ingredients are being increasingly used in place of more traditional burn and wound care treatments, Trelleborg explained. The silicone film can be combined with antibiotics or decongestants, which can potentially replace skinapplied medication. These drug-eluting silicone films significantly improve treatment for the patients, it said. Similarly, medical technology manufacturer Raumedic has developed two new wound treatment solutions for Lohmann & Rauscher, a provider of medical and hygienic products. The Suprasorb CNP (controlled negative pressure) P3 therapy supports the healing process of internal and external wounds.

Freudenberg’s new tubing solution offers a broad range in the degree of twist required for various medical device applications

This technology offers a broad range in the degree of twist required for various medical device applications such as pacemakers, breathing tubes, and other medical applications, which require navigation through tortuous pathways within the human body. Freudenberg Medical, which has developed a proprietary conductive silicone compound used for both smart therapeutic devices that deliver electrical currents and for ESD shielding of sensitive electronics, also recently introduced other next generation product solutions. Targeted at medical device companies looking to accelerate time to market, these include the Composer Epic and Composer Toccata Catheter Handle Platforms and the HyperSeal Mini as an addition to its the hemostasis valve range. Meanwhile, Freudenberg Medical’s technology called Helix iMC, used to continuously measure the inner geometry of silicone tubes, is said to significantly increase product quality for high precision applications, such as pacemaker lead insulation, and dramatically cuts down on material usage and process time.

The drainage pad component in Raumedic’s new silicone wound care system is attached to the patient’s body with adhesive tape

Efficient fix for wound care Trelleborg has recently showcased at a US medical tech show its silicone sheeting and film capabilities

The key part of the deep-drainage set is a quadruple-lumen silicone tube. The large inner lumen transports secretion from wounds within the body. The three small lumens in the tubing wall ensure that aeration can be actively managed during drainage. The device also comprises a kink-resistant drainage pad for external wound therapy. Meanwhile, Raumedic makes special C and Y connectors to extend the drainage sets and to connect them to the secretion bag. The connectors, equipped with a user-friendly locking function, are made of hard and soft components. They facilitate a fast and simple connection, dependably seal the system and prevent wound secretion from flowing back into the body, explained the Germany-based medical device maker.

Trelleborg developed medical silicone tubes are designed for long-term implants


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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber clinically proven to cause less pain at removal and trauma to the wound, explained the company, which had celebrated the 30th year anniversary of Safetac in November last year. While other adhesives stick to the top of the skin’s surface, Safetac moulds to the skin’s uneven surface, it said. Moreover, Safetac also seals the edges of the wound to protect against leakage and maceration.

Avery Dennison Medical has launched a range of adhesive medical materials for wound care

Conductive materials for innovative medical technology Meanwhile, the versatility of silicones has extended to its use in more complex medical technologies, where the properties would surpass that of conventional materials. German chemicals company Wacker Chemie’s latest offering its novel silicone laminate technology with electroactive properties. Nexipal, which is based on the Elastosil film, consists of several ultrathin precision films made of silicone rubber. The films are coated with an electrically conductive material prior to lamination. The result is an actuator that creates movement, as soon as electrical voltage is applied. Additionally, the electroactive component acts like a sensor, since any movement or deformation alters the charge on the electrodes. This dual function makes Nexipal suitable for applications in medical technology, sensors and robotics. Since fluid movements are possible with Nexipal, the laminate can also be used as an artificial muscle. When used as a sensor, Nexipal also detects skin contact. Touch screens of measuring devices equipped with Nexipal are able to create vibrations and haptic feedback simulating keys or control panels that can be operated blindly by touch. Wacker is currently setting up a production line for developing and manufacturing silicone laminates. The facility is scheduled to produce the first prefabricated laminates in the second half of 2020.

Adhesive solutions akin to a second skin The medical adhesives market, poised to garner a value of US$10.6 million by 2024, according to a report by Markets and Markets, is growing due to the increasing number of minimally invasive surgeries that require the use of adhesives for wound closure, as well as the application of disposable, single-use medical devices. Aside from effectivity in aiding wound care, the new adhesives also offer comfortability to users, lessening the pain associated with dressing change and the healing process. Medical solutions provider Avery Dennison Medical has launched a range of new adhesive medical materials and private label wound care solutions designed for use by medical device original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The soft, conformable and breathable products are for applications ranging from glucose monitors to ostomy appliances. Included in the range are the single-sided soft-skin silicone adhesive nonwoven material MED 5710SI. It can be used to make advanced wound care dressings or as a cover tape for finished devices. With gentle adhesion to the skin and atraumatic removal, it is ideal for securing to fragile skin. Meanwhile, MED 5712SI, a single-sided soft-skin silicone adhesive nonwoven tape that is designed for wound care and consumer applications, is a water-repellent tape that can be easily torn by hand in the cross direction. The nonwoven carrier has a fluorine coating to allow the tape to be self-wound without the need for a release liner. In a similar token, Sweden-headquartered medical solutions company Mӧlnlycke offers its proprietary Safetac technology, which addresses the significant pain patients suffer at dressing changes and trauma caused to a wound by other types of adhesives. Safetac technology is a silicone adhesive that is

Wacker’s Nexipal laminate technology is suitable for applications in medical technology, sensors, and robotics


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