PRA Nov/Dec 2019 issue

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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

In this issue

Volume 34, No 250

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 12 材料新聞: 包裝領域 - 前景還是末路? 15 Country Focus – Vietnam’s emergence as a competitive manufacturing hub for global companies against the back of the US-China trade war and advancement of the Industry 4.0, is to be highlighted at the P&R Vietnam, Hanoi this November

18 Country Focus – Thailand, a favourable market for companies interviewed at the recent T-Plas held in Bangkok, is pushing for sustainability amid its increasing demand for plastics by its growth industries

22 K2019 – Leading companies have made their mark in the circular economy era with new technologies and innovations showcased at this year’s German show held October in Düsseldorf 26 Chemicals – John Richardson, Senior Consultant at ICIS discussed in this article how polymer producers can lead in asserting sustainability through various ways including chemical recycling

2 Industry News 6 Materials News

Supplements 副 刊 Adoption of circular economy spurs bright prospects for the machinery sector that witnesses slow growth and low turnovers due to global economic shifts, according to a Euromap forecast Global tyre makers are committed to ensuring sustainable and ethical natural rubber sourcing across its supply chain


Senior Editor Angelica Buan Email: Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling Circulation Stephanie Yuen Email:

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Industry News

M&As/Investments • Malaysia’s Petronas Chemicals Group Berhad (PCG) has completed the acquisition of Da Vinci Group, marking PCG’s first foray into speciality chemicals. Incorporated in the Netherlands, Da Vinci has global operations involving own-brand reselling, formulating and manufacturing of silicones, lube oil additives and chemicals. • German materials manufacturer Covestro is to sell its European PC sheets business, which comprises manufacturing units in Belgium and Italy, to Serafin Group. The business generated total revenues of around EUR130 million in 2018. The decision was made as part of Covestro’s ongoing portfolio optimisation process, which includes the divestment of all PC sheets businesses. • Finnish packaging maker Huhtamaki has forked out EUR68 million to acquire Mohan Mutha Polytech, a privately-owned flexible packaging manufacturer located in Andhra Pradesh, India, and 70% of Everest Flexibles, a privately-owned flexible packaging manufacturer in South Africa. The


sellers of Everest will enter into a joint venture with Huhtamaki’s Foodservice and Fiber Packaging operations in South Africa and own 30% of all Huhtamaki’s activities in South Africa. • Italian speciality chemicals group Italmatch Chemicals has invested in US-based FRX Polymers, a manufacturer of polymeric phosphorus-based flame retardants. The parties did not reveal the investment amount. FRX has an application development centre in Massachusetts, US, and operates a full-scale plant in Antwerp, Belgium. • Chemical firm Arkema has completed the acquisition of its partner Taixing Jurong’s stake in Taixing Sunke Chemicals, for EUR70 million. It is a manufacturer of acrylic acid and butyl acrylate and accounts for more than 50% of global acrylic acid demand. • German chemical firm BASF SE is to invest EUR20 million into Norwaybased Quantafuel, a specialist for pyrolysis of mixed plastic waste, to further develop


Quantafuel’s chemical recycling technology, consisting of an integrated process of pyrolysis and purification, as well as license the technology to other parties. The 16,000-tonne/year plant will be set up in Skive, Denmark, by end 2019. BASF will use the secondary raw materials in its ChemCycling project to develop the market for chemically recycled plastics with selected customers. • Chemical firm Nova Chemicals has paid Dow Chemical Canada US$1.08 billion for damages Dow had incurred from 2012, as directed by a court. This relates to both companies’ jointlyowned ethylene facility (E3) in Alberta, Canada, which had both companies claiming and counterclaiming damages against one another between 2001 and 2012. The court, which initially ruled in 2018, found that Nova failed to operate the ethylene asset at full capacity for more than ten years, resulting in reduced productivity and sales for Dow. • Russian oil/petchem firm Sibur’s subsidiary Biaxplen has acquired a 50% stake in European BOPP film producer Manucor SpA. Biaxplen also

produces BOPP films in Russia, and has a production capacity of 149,000 tonnes/year from seven lines. • Renewable diesel and jet fuel provider Neste and Remondis, one of the world's largest privately owned recycling firm, are to collaborate in the development of chemical recycling of plastic waste. The companies will focus on developing and accelerating chemical recycling with a target to process over 200 kilotonnes/ year of waste plastic. Through joining forces, Remondis and Neste combine Remondis’s waste collecting and sorting capabilities and Neste’s experience and know-how in oil refining and processing of lowquality waste and residue materials. • Styrenics maker Ineos Styrolution is collaborating with Sirap, a producer of food packaging (particularly of XPS based food containers), to develop packaging solutions based on chemically recycled polystyrene (PS). The joint project focuses on the use of PS that is recycled through depolymerisation, and positions Sirap as a first mover in the XPS food packaging sector.

Industry News

Plant Expansions/Opening/Set-ups • Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Adani Group, BASF and Austria's Borealis are to engage in a joint feasibility study to evaluate setting up a chemical complex in Mundra, Gujarat, India, with an investment of US$4 billion. It will evaluate a joint world-scale PDH plant to produce propylene based on propane feedstock supplied by ADNOC and to be used for a PP complex, owned by ADNOC and utilising Borealis’s Borstar technology. Furthermore, propylene will be the key raw material for the acrylics value chain complex as part of a joint venture of BASF and Adani in which BASF holds a majority. Production is intended to commence in 2024. • US oil/petchem firm ExxonMobil is investing US$175 million to install equipment for flaring, including a new flare tip to reduce noise and vibration, at its ethylene plant in Fife, Scotland, to boost performance.


ExxonMobil has also invested £800 million to expand its Fawley refinery and petrochemical plant and completed a £75 million project to increase capacity at its Newport, Wales, advanced elastomers plant this May. ExxonMobil is also constructing a unit for its new full-range linear alpha olefins (LAOs) at the Baytown Chemical Plant in Texas, with a capacity of 350,000 tonnes/ year.

• US-based supplier of thermoplastic compounds and concentrates Modern Dispersions is expanding its Leominster and Fitzgerald manufacturing facilities, by adding a 133-mm twinscrew extruder and ancillary equipment to significantly increase production for engineered compounds and masterbatches. • German speciality chemicals company Lanxess has inaugurated its new compounding plant in Changzhou, China. The facility produces Durethan and Pocan-branded plastics for the


automotive sector and the electrical/ electronics industry. • The US$450 million Daesan integrated refining and petrochemicals complex in South Korea, owned by Hanwha Total Petrochemical, a 50-50 joint venture between French firm Total and South Korean conglomerate Hanwha Group, has started up with a capacity of 1.4 million tonnes/ year of ethylene, an increase of 30%. More than US$300 million is being invested to expand PE production capacity by 50% to 1.1 million tonnes/ year by the end of 2019, and nearly US$500 million to increase PP capacity by 60% to 1.1 million tonnes/ year by 2021. • LyondellBasell Industries and US-based provider of midstream energy services Enterprise Products Partners are to construct Enterprise’s second PDH plant, with a capacity to consume up to 35,000 barrels/ day of propane and produce up to 750,000 tonnes/ year of propylene

in Mont Belvieu, Texas. It will start up by 2023, with LyondellBasell being the anchor customer and the plant utilising Honeywell’s UOP’s Oleflex technology. LyondellBasell has also started up its fifth production line for PP in Knapsack, Germany, making it the world’s largest PP compounding facility, with 200 kilotonnes/year. In other news, LyondellBasell’s Ulsan PP Co, a joint venture between PolyMirae Company, a 50-50 partnership of LyondellBasell/ Daelim, and SK Advanced, has broken ground for a new facility in South Korea. This new plant will utilise LyondellBasell’s Spheripol technology and is expected to begin production in 2021. With its 400,000 tonne/ year-PP capacity, the facility will be one of the largest in Asia.

• BASF has increased the capacity of its neopentyl glycol (NPG) plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, by 10,000 tonnes/ year, giving it a

INDUSTRY NEWS total of 215,000 tonnes of NPG capacity with facilities in Ludwigshafen, Freeport/US, Nanjing and Jilin/China. In addition, BASF is expanding NPG capacity in Nanjing by a further 40,000 tonnes, available from 2020. BASF will also expand the capacity of ethylene oxide and ethylene oxide derivatives at its site in Antwerp, Belgium, to bring a total of 400,000 tonnes/year to its production capacity, with an investment of EUR500 million. The sequential startup is expected to begin in 2022 and includes a second world-scale ethylene oxide line, including capacity for purified ethylene oxide. • Oil and gas company MOL Group is investing EUR1.2 billion in a new polyol production plant complex in Tiszaújváros, Hungary, which is expected to go into operation in 2021 and produce around 200,000 tonnes/year of polyols. German industrial firm

Thyssenkrupp is building the integrated chemical complex. • Japan’s Toray Industries’s Indian facility has started manufacturing polyamide (PA) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). This first Indian plastic compounding unit of a Japanese manufacturer, it should reach full operating capacity of around 5,000 tonnes in the near future. • Avery Dennison has opened its expanded production facility at Rodange, Luxembourg, completing a US$65 million project. The expansion incorporates a multi-capability coater, additional slitter capacity, a new packaging line and an automated warehouse. • Materials provider Trinseo is to set up a thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) pilot facility at its existing manufacturing site in Hsinchu, Taiwan, to begin operation in 2020. It is the next step of Trinseo’s TPE growth following the acquisition of Italy’s API SpA in 2017.

• Chemical company Sabic has opened a new technology centre dedicated to the caps and closures segment in Geleen, the Netherlands. • Japanese automotive materials supplier Sekisui Chemical is building a new production line in the Netherlands for interlayer films, due for completion by the end of this year. • Luxembourg-based cap/closure maker United Caps has opened its new manufacturing plant located in Kulim, Malaysia. It has also launched a brand-new cap, 127 SAFE-TE, for baby food safety and convenience with security features and a gold colour offering. • US speciality colour and additive concentrate supplier Chroma Color Corporation, a US$160 millionsales company, has completed a year-long expansion and over a US$1 million investment in its Leominster, MA, manufacturing operation. • US auxiliary products maker

Maguire Products has established a new subsidiary in Taichung, Taiwan. It is a subsidiary of Singaporebased Maguire Asia and the sixth international subsidiary. • Oil giant BP plans to construct a US$25 million pilot plant for PET recycling at its R&D hub, in Naperville, Illinois, and to open it late 2020. It will be based on its recycling technology, BP Infinia, that enables unrecyclable PET plastic waste to be recycled. BP says it will prove the technology first before progressing to full-scale commercialisation. • US structural adhesives firm PPG has invested in a 2,100-sqft automotive adhesives and sealants laboratory on the company’s existing 42-acre manufacturing and research complex in Cleveland, Ohio. • Lubricant and fuel additives supplier Afton Chemical Corporation, a company of NewMarket Corporation, has completed its Japan Technology Centre expansion in Tsukuba. NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


Materials News

Progress or dead-end in the packaging sector? As the plastic waste problem comes to a head, brands are tapping solutions to increase use worthiness of plastics as well as take action with a circular approach to ensure environmental sustainability of plastics in packaging applications, while Greenpeace refutes these advances stating that reusing/refilling may be an option to recycling, according to Angelica Buan in this report


lastic production continues to increase amid the uproar against its use and disposal. Based on a report titled Plastic & Climate: the hidden costs of a plastic planet by the Centre for International Environmental Law, Environmental Integrity Project, FracTracker Alliance, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, 5 Gyres, and Break Free From Plastic (BFFP), plastics produced and incinerated in 2019 added 850 million tonnes more of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, or equal to the pollution spewed from nearly 189 new coal fired power plants. Packaging applications dominate the plastics market, especially since the use of reusable to single-use containers has also increased. A study done in 2017, authored by scientists from the University of Georgia, University of California and Sea Education Association, suggested that packaging already accounted for 146 million tonnes of the total plastics produced in 2015, generating nearly the same amount to 141million tonnes of wastes. The consumption for rigid plastic packaging alone reached almost 60 million tonnes in 2019, and is predicted to go up to nearly 70 million tonnes by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 3.5%. With rapid urbanisation and rising disposable incomes that account for the increasing consumption of plastic packaging, waste produced from this sector is expected to grow unless drastic measures are taken.

and upgrades in its recycling and innovations in product and process design. Meanwhile, Sabert says its stand-alone recycling and resin processing plant employs a closed loop manufacturing process that has helped divert more than 5,000 tonnes/year of plastic from landfills and the use of post-use waste recycling equivalent to the weight of more than 300 million bottles. Similarly, Israel-headquartered fresh produce packaging specialist StePac has rolled out its strategy for reduced plastic use with what it calls as climate-positive plastic packaging. StePac has designed a four-tiered strategy that addresses key areas of manufacturing, use, and recycling, plus its Xtend modified-atmosphere packaging is able to extend shelf life and reduce waste in the fresh produce supply chain. The company said it pioneered in developing packaging solutions that, in one example, enabled Peruvian exporters to make the transition from air freight to sea freight of white asparagus to Europe. This resulted in a reduction of 5,500 kg CO2 emissions/tonne of product shipped.

Suppliers embrace climate neutral programmes US-headquartered manufacturer of food packaging products Sabert has launched a company-wide sustainability programme, Earthtelligent, towards minimising its environmental impact through investments

Sabert's rigid 100% rPET containers



StePac introduces its climate-positive strategy for reduced plastic use

Materials News Future with more plastics in the circular loop In a pioneering move as the first major global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction across its portfolio, conglomerate Unilever has committed to reducing plastic waste by halving its use of virgin plastics for packaging and increasing its use of recycled plastics to 25% by 2025. It is targeting a Unilever 100,000 tonnes of plastic promotes a "no reduction over the period. plastic" solution with reusable Currently, Unilever’s and refillable plastic packaging footprint packaging is approximately 700,000 tonnes/year (including recent acquisitions). The company says this commitment will require it to collect and process around 600,000 tonnes/ year of plastics by 2025. This will be delivered through investments and partnerships, which improve waste management infrastructure in many of the countries where Unilever operates. Meanwhile, the consumer goods producer has also invested in multiple use packs (reusable and/or refillable), ‘no plastic’ solutions (alternative packaging materials or naked products) and reduced the amount of plastics in existing packs. Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, adds that the company is ensuring all its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable, a plan that the entire packaging industry is adopting to create a sustainable, circular future with plastics.

In a related development, Norway-based provider of sensor-based sorting systems Tomra has also committed to help increase recycling rates of plastic packaging from 14% to 40% by 2030. Stefan Ranstrand, President/CEO of Tomra added that of the current recycling rate, only 2% is recycled in a closed loop, or reused for the same purpose without being downgraded to lower quality plastic. To date, Tomra, a member of the not-for-profit global organisation Alliance to End Plastic Waste, has collected 40 billion/year used beverage containers through its reverse vending machines. It also offers material recovery and sorting solutions for the food, recycling and mining industries. By 2025, Tomra estimates its solutions will sort more than 8 million tonnes/year of plastic from waste streams at a global level. The company also estimates it will upgrade 2 million tonnes of plastic to the quality of virgin material.

Tomra has committed to help increase recycling rates of plastic packaging from 14% to 40% by 2030

Refining complexity into productivity. SML’s high-speed extrusion coating and laminating lines are tailored to the hugely diverse requirements of coating products and set the standard in maintaining flexibility for frequent product changes.

Extrusion lines. Engineered to perform.



Materials News Message in a bottle – rPET The billion dollar bottled water market, estimated in an Allied Market Research report to gross nearly US$320 billion by 2022, is likewise undergoing a sustainable packaging overhaul. For example, US’s leading imported bottled water supplier Fiji Water says that by next year it will be using 20% rPET in all its bottles, and increasing the utilisation of rPET to 100% by 2025. Further, the bottled water company, which is also a key partner in the largest recycling programme in Fiji, offers an alternative to single-use bottles with a new 2.5-gallon packaging option and a 5-gallon option designed to fit in a standard hot and cold water dispenser. B o t h o p t i o n s will utilise up to 76% less plastic; and in the case of the Fiji Water plans to increase the utilisation of 5 - g a l l o n rPET to 100% by 2025 option, an estimated equivalent of 38 fewer 500 ml bottles. Similarly, identified to account majorly in the global plastic waste pollution, leading beverage giant CocaCola has turned to using marine plastics for its bottles. Coca-Cola has produced about 300 sample bottles using 25% recycled marine plastic, retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea and beaches. Developed by Netherlandsbased Ioniqa Technologies, the enhanced recycling technology applied to recover the rPET uses a process that breaks down the components and strips out impurities in lower-grade recyclables so they can be rebuilt as good as new. Apart from Ioniqa, Coca-Cola also collaborated with Thailand-based PET supplier Indorama Ventures that converted the marine waste into rPET, as well as Mares Circulares (Circular Seas), which collected the marine waste. Although enhanced recycling is still in its infancy, the partners produced the sample marine plastic bottle as proof of concept for what the technology may Coca-Cola with Indorama achieve in time. Ventures and In the immediate term, enhanced Circular Seas r e c y c l i n g w i l l b e i n t r o d u c e d a t developed an commercial scale using waste streams rPET bottle from f r o m e x i s t i n g r e c y c l e r s , i n c l u d i n g ocean plastics



previously unrecyclable plastics and lower-quality recyclables. From 2020, Coca-Cola plans to roll out this enhanced recycled content in some of its bottles. Greenpeace, BFFP: brand strategies in a stalemate Against the back of the above pledges and efforts, environmental group Greenpeace is throwing the shade on some of the solutions offered by major brands in its new report titled Throwing away the future: how companies still have it wrong on plastic pollution solutions. Greenpeace claims that companies seem to be giving with one hand and taking away with the other. It adds that switching to paper or bioplastics or adopting chemical recycling are “false solutions” offered by multinational corporations, which are unsuccessfully moving consumers away from single-use packaging, yet at the same time, diverting attention from beneficial systems that prioritise refill and reuse. “Despite the increasing scientific understanding of the irreversible damage plastic can cause to our environment and communities, plastic production is projected to dramatically increase in the coming years,” according to Greenpeace US Senior Research Specialist Ivy Schlegel, who authored the report. The sustainable alternatives in the centrepiece of campaigns of multinational consumer goods companies are not delivering but contrarily, “put unacceptable pressures on natural resources such as forests and agricultural land, which have already been overexploited,” Schlegel furthered. She advised that companies need to rethink how products are delivered to consumers and invest significantly in reusable and refillable delivery systems to avert the plastic pollution crisis. This is furthered in a recent global report, Branded volume II: identifying the world’s top corporate plastic polluters, which cited major brands like Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo, P&G, Colgate-Palmolive, Mars, Phillip Morris, Perfetti Van Melle, and Mondelēz International as top polluters. The audit was based on 484 clean-ups in over 50 countries and six continents that were organised by BFFP. The group insinuates the companies’ continued use of single-use plastic packaging adds more throwaway plastic into the environment. Von Hernandez, global coordinator of the BFFP movement, also reasons that recycling is not going to solve the plastic waste problem and is urging corporations to “reduce their production of single-use plastic and find innovative solutions focused on alternative delivery systems (such as reusable or refillable systems) that do not create pollution”. Thus, it can be seen that though brands are moving towards recycling technologies, further thought needs to be given to averting single-use plastic packaging from landfills and the oceans.













Country Focus

Vietnam: carving a name in the global competitiveness map Vietnam is on the way to achieving economic power against the back of the US-China trade war and advancement of the Industry 4.0, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Global companies finding a new home in Vietnam The US-China trade scuffle made Vietnam emerge from a lower middle income economy to a rock star global manufacturing hub as companies have been shifting production to the country to dodge the impact of the US tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, thus auguring its trade and manufacturing sectors. Vietnam, ranked 70th in World Bank’s ease of doing business for 2020, outpacing fast rising performers Indonesia (69.6th), the Philippines (95th) and Brazil (124th), is the world’s manufacturing hub for electronic products, smart phones, textile and footwear. It is also known to have maintained cheap labour costs, and a sizeable consumer The consumer electronics sector is seen to market. benefit from the US-China trade conflict Nevertheless, Vietnam’s affiliations with global trade partnerships such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CTPP), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the EU-Vietnam FTA (EVFTA), and other trade agreements with key economic blocs, are notching up the country’s global competitiveness. It is not surprising that a number of foreign direct investments (FDIs) are channelling their businesses from China to Vietnam and other countries in Asia, amid the trade disputes that may not be resolved any time soon. Vietnam’s consumer electronics sector is benefiting from the situation. Companies are changing their production address to Vietnam: GoerTek, the manufacturer of Apple’s AirPods, will be producing its wireless headphones in Vietnam to reduce supply chain costs; Japanese appliance manufacturer Sharp is also building its new plant near Ho Chi Minh City, set to begin operating in 2020 to produce automotive LCDs for the US market. Meanwhile, American personal computer maker Dell is also diverting 30% of its notebook production from Sharp's new subsidiary, Sharp Manufacturing Vietnam will rise at the China to Southeast Asia, and has already Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park II near Ho Chi Minh City pilot runs in Vietnam as well as in Taiwan and the Philippines. Japanese games console company Nintendo is likewise moving some of the Nintendo Switch production to Vietnam, while LG Electronics is moving its smart phone production line from South Korea to Hai Phong in Vietnam by the end of this year, allegedly to cut costs. NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


Country Focus Stepping up with Industry 4.0 In a monumental move to be in the league of the world’s innovation-driven economies, Vietnam has signed the resolution 52-NQ/TW in September, officially marking its transformation to the Fourth Industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). The resolution, signed by Party General Party General Secretary/President Secretary/President Nguyen Phu Trong “aims to make Nguyen Phu Trong signed the resolution full use of opportunities brought that will facilitate the about by Industry 4.0”. What it country’s transition means is that by 2025, Vietnam is into the industry 4.0 striving to maintain its position economy in the top three ASEAN countries in the Global Innovation Index (GII) rankings; aiming for the digital economy to account for about 20% of the GDP while increasing labour productivity on average of over 7% per year. By 2030, Vietnam aims to rank among the top 40 countries in the world in the GII rankings; aiming for all people to have broadband access at a low cost, and the digital economy to account for over 30% of the GDP; and with labour productivity increasing on average about 7.5% per year. “In order to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, Resolution 52 states that two guidelines and six major policies need to be implemented. They include innovative thinking and unifying perception, perfecting institutions to facilitate proactive participation in Industry 4.0 and the process of national digital transformation,” Vietnam officials said. The state pledges to support the digital transformation in businesses and current manufacturing sectors in order to optimise, allocate and improve the efficiency of resource use, and enhance competitiveness; at the same time, promoting creative innovation to create new industries, products, and business models. This development creates a more conducive business climate for Vietnam for global industry players desiring to expand their market share in the country and the rest of Asia. This November, Vietnam will host the Plastics & Rubber (P&R) Vietnam show in Hanoi with over 200 exhibitors engaged in the plastics and rubber industries, including US specialised polymer materials and services provider Polyone, Doha Plastics, Qatar’s largest manufacturer and supplier of plastic pipes; Motan-Colortronic, which recently introduced the Industry 4.0 ready Metroflow gravimetric material loaders and other new dosing and mixing units and new compressed air dryer unit. Others include Starlinger, which dished out a closed loop system for big bags made from woven PP and new recycling and extrusion technologies;



and more. The technologies that will be showcased are expected to improve Vietnam’s Industry 4.0 readiness. Trading in plastics A windfall of trade activities is expected for Vietnam’s plastics sector. A report from Mordor Intelligence states that the market for Vietnam plastics is expected to witness a CAGR of around 6.5% during 2019-2024, driven by the rapid increase in downstream processing capacity and growing demand from various end-user industries. Vietnam’s plastic imports (mostly from Thailand, Malaysia and China) in the first 9 months of the year crossed 4.7 million tonnes, valued at US$6.8 billion, according to statistical data. From January to September, Vietnam exported over US$2.5 billion plastic products. In the first 9 months, plastics exports increased by 5%, providing assurance that the plastics industry will meet its full year export target of US$3.2 billion, according to the Vietnam Plastics Association. Vietnam exports to more than 150 countries and territories, with the US and Japan being major markets.

Vietnam exported over US$2.5 billion plastic products from January to September

Upbeat packaging sector Further boosting the plastics demand is Vietnam’s packaging sector sustained by the growing food and beverage sector. Investments in this segment have been pouring in. Recently, Ho Chi Minh-based PET packaging firm Ngoc Nghia has secured a US$21.4 million investment from a consortium led by VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund (VOF). Ngoc Nghia has the largest plastic packaging production capacity in Vietnam, with an output of 3.7 billion preforms/year, bottles and closures/year at three production sites. It provides services to local and global brands including Unilever, CocaCola, Pepsi and Vinamilk. The company expects to corner US$74 million in revenue this year from its PET business. Along the same vein, Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant has launched new packaging products for the Vietnam market. In April, Clariant announced it is rolling out from its Changshu, China


Country Focus Clariant launched a new standard tube/desiccant stopper product for the Vietnam market

plant, a new standard tube/desiccant stopper product, created and sized to serve the needs of the Vietnam market, it said. The new product features a 25 mm x 132 mm tube along with a spiral stopper, to package effervescent tablets, chewables and lozenges. This packaging configuration is well suited to automated filling lines. The product is being distributed in Vietnam by DKSH Vietnam. Furthermore, TPE supplier Kraiburg TPE will be showcasing a wide range of TPE products, including its Thermolast K, For Tec E and COPEC materials solutions. The selection of TPE compounds feature an exceptionally silky and velvety surface, a high degree of scratch and abrasion resistance properties, resistance against skin oil, and oil applied on skins, like sunscreens and moisturiser. The TPE compounds also feature good weathering resistance, making them an ideal material solution for applications that require semioutdoor and outdoor use. Moreover, the compounds offer excellent adhesion to PC, ABS, PC/ ABS, ASA and SAN as well as to PA6, PA6.6 and PA12, including Kraiburg TPE will be showcasing a wide range of TPE colour products suited for consumer electronics and other stability, applications at the P&R Vietnam, Hanoi which eases the colouring process when coloured materials are requested for this series. Underscoring the safety of use, a selection of the Thermolast K, For Tec E and COPEC series is certified in accordance to the UL94 HB flammability test. Typical applications include smartwatches, watch bands, mobile phones, controllers, audio devices, remote controls, virtual reality devices and other consumer electronic applications. Also, on show at Hanoi will be customengineered solutions for consumer, industry, automotive and medical applications and custom solutions that match customer requirements, to ensure that the customer’s product will achieve its objective in the highly competitive consumer products industry. The sectors covered include personal care and hygiene products, household items, office supplies, toys and sport articles, cosmetic and food packaging. Packaging and other end-user industries will be fuelling plastics usage. BT Tee, General Manager of UBM VES, co-organiser of P&R Vietnam, Hanoi, stressed that plastics usage in manufacturing is growing along the usage of metals in the industrial supply chain. FDIs are also anticipated to increase in northern Vietnam due to the region’s competitive advantage, he said, adding that the exhibition can contribute to accelerating this progress.


KRAIBURG TPE Technology (M) Sdn Bhd : +84 868 401584 Tran Thi Thanh Ha : +84 963 831241 Quach Dung NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


Country Focus

Thailand: Cultivating a sustainability mindset With economic transformation plans underway, Thailand is building on its environmental commitments at its foundation, according to Angelica Buan who spoke to exhibitors at the recently concluded T-Plas show, held in Bangkok, Thailand.




hailand is on a mission to lessen its plastic usage. Tagged as the fifth highest ocean plastic contributor, it has aimed to increasing recycling rates as well as reducing the types of plastics consumed. In the Plastic Waste Management Road Map 2018-2030, Thailand is targeting to use 100% recycled plastic by 2027 through various means including waste conversion to energy. This year, plastic cap seals in water bottles, oxodegradable plastics, and plastic microbeads are being phased out. By 2022, four types of single-use plastics will be restricted: lightweight plastic bags that are less than 36 microns thick, polystyrene takeaway food containers, plastic cups and straws. The country with 69-million population accounts for a per capita 8 plastic bags/day. Notwithstanding that its thriving industries, automotive, electronics, consumer goods, beverages, appliances, agricultural processing, and others are relying on plastics as a key material. At the recent T-Plas show, concurrently held with PackPrint and wire Tube shows from 18-21 September in Bangkok, over 200 exhibitors and six national pavilions showcased technologies and solutions that cater to these industries. Co-organised by Messe Düsseldorf Asia with the Thai Packaging Association and the Thai Printing Association, the exhibition accommodated over 8,000 local and foreign visitors. Thailand is flexing its global competitiveness, especially with the Thailand 4.0 economic model at play, by “increasing production, efficiency, and adding value to products with customisation, high quality, fast delivery, and reasonable price,” Dheerayut Varnitshang, Vice Minister for Industry said during the opening of T-Plas. Meanwhile, Thailand 4.0 represents the country’s vision to rise from a middle income to a high income nation by adopting innovations and digital technology strategies, with emphasis on sustainability.

Country Focus A favourable market in the region Thailand is an important gateway to dynamic markets in Southeast Asia and the rest of the Asian region, said T-Plas exhibitors. Indian exhibitor Lohia Group, a supplier of machinery for endto-end solutions for plastic woven fabric industry, has recently opened a regional office in Bangkok to handle the Asian countries, according to Thomas Berlingen, ASEAN Regional Manager at Lohia. “We are increasing our presence in Southeast Asia, being an important market for us. Thomas Berlingen says that Thailand is our Lohia is increasing its presence in base and we are Thailand and in Southeast Asia expanding from here,” he said. Lohia has offices and agents in other ASEAN countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Myanmar. At the show, Lohia promoted its conversion machines for FIBCs (flexible intermediate bulk containers) and the Nova 6 circular loom that is designed for fabrics suited for packaging of cement, polymer granules, fertiliser and other farming products. Germanyheadquartered Collin Lab & Pilot Solutions is also expanding in Southeast Asia, adding a service engineer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, apart from an existing one already in Thailand to support Corné Verstraten says Thailand is a its growing stable market for Collin Lab & Pilot business in the Solutions region. “Southeast Asia, in general, and Thailand, in particular, are a stable market for us, despite the presence of some competitor companies,” Corné Verstraten, Collin’s CSO/Joint Partner said. Collin’s range of pilot & laboratory lines promoted at T-Plas included the flat film line with camera system, a blown film line, and a new design for the table-top teach line featuring a touch screen for the control.

Meanwhile, German manufacturer of thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) Kraiburg TPE also garnered interest from the show’s visitors for its array of new TPE compounds for various automotive and consumer applications. Roland Ritter, Director Asia Pacific at Kraiburg TPE, expressed satisfaction over the reception of Thai customers at the show. Aside from the medical-grade TPEs it offered at the Medical Plastics Showcase at T-Plas, Kraiburg also highlighted its new recyclable TEH hybrid range of TPEs for Thailand’s hallmark automotive Roland Ritter of Kraiburg TPE showed the array of recyclable industry, touted as TPEs offered for the Thai market the largest in Asia and the 12th in the world. “The TEH materials, which can be processed by common injection moulding machines and extruder lines, are particularly suitable for use in the environment of combustion engines, heat management of drives and batteries for electric vehicles as well as in lubrication and cooling systems of machines, process technology and buildings. Direct applications Peter Brudzinski of SML cites include seals and uncertainty about plastics that gaskets, plugs and factors in a general “slow down” connectors, lids in sales and covers,” Ritter furthered. Coming from another perspective is SML Maschinengesellschaft. The Austria-based specialist of extrusion lines that has an office in Thailand has sold a number of machines to Thai customers. Earlier in the year, it sold a cast stretch film production lines to Sigma Stretch Film of Asia, a joint venture between US-based Sigma Plastics Group and Thailand’s King Pac Industrial for installation in Thailand. The previous year, a barrier sheet line was also installed in Thailand for another company. “Indonesia and Thailand are lucrative NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


Country Focus markets for SML. Vietnam is also a fast rising market, with a sheet line recently sold and more companies expressing interest in our machines,” Peter Brudzinski, Regional Sales Manager at SML said. Nevertheless, Brudzinski observed a general “slow down” in sales starting from middle of 2018. This year, he said, the sales slid even more. “(This is due to) a couple of factors: one is uncertainty about plastics, weighed down by bad publicity and regulations; and the K show effect, because instead of people buying now, they are waiting until then,” he opined. Becoming a bioplastic country The “bad publicity” about petroleum-based plastics is leading to growth in interests in biobased plastics. “There is a new mindset driving the decoupling of economic growth from the use of natural resources,” said Stephen Moore, Business Director Asia at Townsend Solutions at the Specialty Plastics conference held during the T-Plas. “While the circular economy concept has been around since the 1960s, its re-introduction by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has quickly gained momentum and has been widely embraced as a key lever in bridging the emissions gap required According to Stephen Moore to limit global warming at the Specialty Plastics conference, a new mindset (climate change),” he is driving the decoupling of said. economic growth from the use The global of natural resources bioplastics market is expected to grow in the next five years, and estimated to cross US$68.5 billion by 2024, driven by rising demand from packaging applications. Eyeing to get a considerable share of the market, Thailand is positioning itself to be a bioplastics hub in the region, and it has the right ingredients to be one. According to the Board of Investments (BOI), Thailand has an abundant biomass materials supply such as cornstarch and sugars; the necessary workforce, strong downstream industry demand, and adequate government support to develop the bioplastics sector. The over 3,000 local plastics converters are ready to develop their machines or adjust their production processes to serve the bioplastics market, BOI added. The first bioplastic laboratory was opened recently in Chiang Mai as part of Chiang Mai University to produce PLA and PBS copolymers



Thailand's first bioplastic lab in Chiang Mai will produce PLA and PBS copolymers used in making medical equipment

used in making medical equipment. This, according to the proponents of the project, will reduce the cost of the material currently imported into the country from 150,000-200,000 baht to 80,000-90,000 baht. State-owned petrochemical company PTT Group has been supporting the bioplastic research for about ten years. Meanwhile, Total Corbion PLA, a joint venture between Total and Corbion, recently inaugurated its 75,000 tonne/year PLA bioplastics facility in Rayong. Operational since late last year, the plant produces 100% renewable, recyclable and biodegradable Luminy PLA resins made from non-GMO sugarcane sourced locally in Thailand. The company says its PLA resins can be used for a range of applications in packaging, consumer goods, 3D printing, fibres and automotive sectors. Total Corbion will also leverage on the integration with its lactide plant, the monomer required for the production of PLA, that has simultaneously been expanded to 100,000 tonnes/year production capacity. More of biobased packaging Thailand’s packaging sector accounts for a huge consumption of plastics. It is for this reason that bioplastics seem to be a sound solution for the country’s packaging requirement. Prasit Piriyapararn of PlanticKuraray explains that biobased plastics can provide a sustainable solution sought today by consumers

Country Focus At the Specialty Plastics conference, Prasit Piriyapararn, Sales Manager at Plantic-Kuraray, discussed how packaging producers can benefit from starch-based bioplastics like Plantic, a biomass-derived gas barrier film created through collaborative research between industry and academia in Australia. “People are concerned about using plastics and they are demanding sustainable solutions,” Piriyapararn observed. Plantic is designed to meet the growing demand for a high content of renewable material that will reduce carbon emissions. The product, which Piriyapararn assured is compostable and dissolves easily in water, has high gas barrier and significantly extends the shelf life of fresh foods (when used in packaging). Going for recycling: rPET to be included Recycling and using recycled materials are options being deliberated in Thailand as it firms up its plastic waste position. Companies are filling up this niche sector. Global waste and resources firm Suez is building a 30,000 tonne/year-capacity film plant in Bang Phli district near Bangkok by mid-2020. Meanwhile, the Thai Beverage Industry Association (TBA) with the support of Coca-Cola (Thailand), Suntory PepsiCo Beverage (Thailand) and Nestlé (Thailand) in partnership with Indorama Ventures (IVL) are collaborating to develop a protocol, as part of sustainable plastic waste management for the usage of recycled PET (rPET) in food and beverage packaging in the country.

TBA, working with beverage brands, partnered with Indorama Ventures to develop a protocol for the usage of recycled PET (rPET) in food and beverage packaging

Currently, Thailand has banned the use of rPET in food and beverage packaging. According to Veera Akraputtiporn, Vice-Chairman and President of TBA, “Beverage manufacturers in Thailand have no choice but to use 100% virgin plastic because the regulations prohibit the use of recycled plastic in food-contact packaging. As a result, our members simply cannot reduce the use of virgin plastic in this regard even if they want to.”

In 2018, 185,000 tonnes of PET beverage bottles made from virgin plastic were supplied to the Thai market and less than half of these bottles were collected for proper recycling. Some of the remaining bottles ended up in landfills while others, unfortunately, leaked into the environment making plastic waste one of the current top global agendas. Allowing rPET in food grade packaging is, thus, one of the many actions that Thailand can take to help overcome this challenge. Plastics as a perfect material As the economy booms and urbanisation accelerates, the requirement for plastics is expected to increase. Thailand uses an estimated 200 billion single use plastic bags/year. How it is able to do away with plastic for packaging remains a challenge. “Plastics has a very bad image,” according to Horst Roeder, Area Sales Manager of the Austriaheadquartered recycling machinery maker Erema. “But it is a strong material and the property of plastics, especially in packaging, however, also makes the material stay longer in the environment and becomes a major pollutant,” he admitted. “Nonetheless, if we use and dispose of plastics properly, the material is perfect,” Roeder said. Among Erema’s new products is the QualityOn: Polyscan that can measure the polymer composition directly at the recycling machine. Achieving a circular economy for plastics relies on higher proportion of recycled pellets being used in end products, and increasingly in challenging consumer goods. This requires high-quality recycled pellets and a stable recycling process. The QualityOn system enables continuous quality monitoring during the ongoing recycling process. “The industry already has outlined strategies and it is time to put them into action,” Roeder said. He mentioned how the industry is working to improve collection and recycling methodologies, which emphasise on the importance of producing high-quality recycled materials in end products. “Plastic is a perfect material, we only need to handle it with respect,” he concluded Horst Roeder of Erema shares that the industry is working on strategies for efficient collection and recycling NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


K2019 Review

Circular economy takes centre stage at world’s largest show The theme of this year’s K2019, held in October in Düsseldorf, Germany, was on the circular economy, given that in the last few years plastics and the waste generated have become a sore issue. Thus, companies are embarking on a sustainable path by way of the circular economy.

Machinery makers jump on the bandwagon Integration of recyclate into new products has set off a wave of motion in new R&D on the mechanical engineering side. German machine maker Kautex Maschinenbau, for example, presented a machine for a three-layer plastic bottle with an inner and outer skin made of biobased plastic. The central layer consists of foamed post-consumer recyclate (PCR). "This bottle has the same mechanical properties as one made entirely from virgin fossil materials", said Christian Kirchbaumer, Head of Marketing Communications at a presentation in the VDMA pavilion. The time taken to form the bottle is also the same as for conventional material. At the same time, 18% of material is saved and CO2 emissions are reduced. Kautex receives the biobased material from the Brazilian plastics producer Braskem. Tim Kautex worked with partners to showcase a three-layer bottle with Wagler, Commercial an inner and outer skin made of biobased plastic Director Renewable Chemicals Europe & Asia, was basically positive about the future of chemical recycling. “It is possible, but at the moment we can't do it in large quantities,” he said. Meanwhile, ultrasonic welding machinery supplier Herrmann Ultraschall has now proven that biobased plastics can also be easily bonded by using the method. Using the example of two small octagons connected by a short cylinder, it was found that the strength of different bio-based plastics comes very close to that of fossil materials. “In more than 90% of all requirements where strength is important, bio-based materials have proven to be suitable," said CEO Thomas Herrmann. But whether biobased plastics have a future depends to a large extent on the consumer. For the acceptance of such products, it is important to develop a good label.

Hermann says it has studied two biopolymers from Tecnaro that are 100% renewable and biodegradable and found that the lignin-based bioplastics can be welded by means of ultrasound



Bioplastics on the advance A number of products are possible with bioplastics. German fabrication company FM Kunststofftechnik presented a reusable coffee cup, developed together with Golden Compound, which is completely compostable. It uses a biopolyester enriched with up to 40% sunflower shells.

K2019 Review macromolecular core technologies, where plant oils and its fatty acids are used as a primary raw material. Kaneka has been piloting the production of PHBH at its Takasago headquarters in Japan since 2011. Current production is running at 1,000 tonnes/year, and will be upscaled to 5,000 tonnes/year by December 2019. Kaneka’s PHBH is targeted at a number of products

Golden Compound’s reusable/compostable coffee cup, uses a biopolyester enriched with up to 40% sunflower shells

These shells are a waste product in the production of sunflower oil. Firstly, they enable the saving of bioplastics and secondly, they increase the stability of the product. The dishwasher-safe coffee cups also decompose in the soil and do not have to be brought to a temperature of 60°C, as is the case with PLA. A lot is also happening on the material side. For instance, Biofibre GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of German machine maker LWB Steinl, has developed a biobased plastic with good properties for injection moulding, which a customer is using for the production of shoetrees. This has opened up other areas of application for the material, for example, in the furniture area. The products still cost more than comparable products made of conventional materials, but consumers are now prepared to pay more for an environmentally-friendly product. Demand is also coming from countries where certain plastic products have been banned and require alternative materials . Christoph Glammert of Biofibre explains the company’s products

New showcases of biobased plastics Japanese firm Kaneka showcased its biobased and biodegradable polymer PHBH, following recent food contact material approval in the EU, Japan and the US. It says it is not only recyclable through composting, but is also biodegradable in natural environments, including marine waters. With “OK Biodegradable MARINE” certification that guarantees biodegradability in sea water, Kaneka’s new solution can help to reduce marine pollution. The new biopolymer is produced through a microorganism fermentation process, a successful merging between Kaneka's fermentation and

Italian chemical firm Eni’s subsidiary Versalis has launched a new line of products made of recycled plastic called Versalis Revive. The first of these is an expandable polystyrene (EPS) made of recycled raw materials from separated domestic waste collected in Italy, including PS cups, trays and yoghurt pots. The project is being carried out in collaboration with COREPLA (National Consortium for the Collection, Recycling and Recovery of Plastic Packaging). The material has been commercially available from November and can be used as insulating panels, or as protective packaging for appliances and furniture. Other initiatives are under development, with the goal of producing over 20,000 tonnes/year of PS products containing recycled materials. Another product, Versalis Revive PE, includes LDPE/ HDPE-based compounds, containing up to 75% of urban PCR, mainly from recycled packaging. These products can be used for multiple applications, particularly in the agricultural sector for drip irrigation, and in the packaging sector, including for small containers of up to 5 l, as well as film applications, such as for bags for industrial products or mineral water packaging. These products have been developed in collaboration with the Versalis Research Centre in Mantua and recycling firm Montello SpA. In other news, Dutch chemical firm DSM Engineering Plastics plans to offer bio-and/or recycledbased alternatives for its entire DSM’s Shruti Singhal said range of engineering plastics that the firm intends to roll by 2030, which will contain out 25%-recycled mateat least 25% recycled and/or rial content engineering biobased content by weight. plastics by 2030 NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


K2019 Review As an immediate step, DSM is launching biobased grades of its Arnitel thermoplastic copolyester (TPC) and Stanyl PA product portfolio manufactured via a mass-balancing approach of biobased feedstock. The Stanyl biobased PA grades are already available with the sustainability certification ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) Plus and biobased content of up to 42%. The biobased content is derived from tall oil, which is a byproduct of pulp and paper manufacture. The Arnitel grades will have bio content of up to 25%. Austrian chemical firm Borealis and Finland’s renewable hydrocarbon producer Neste are working together to produce renewable PP using Neste’s 100% renewable propane produced by Neste’s proprietary NEXBTL technology at its facilities in Kallo and Beringen, Belgium, starting by end of year. Neste has a production capacity of over 3 million tonnes/year of renewable products and its NEXBTL technology allows the company to utilise nearly any biobased oil or fat as raw material, including lower-quality waste and residue oils to produce various renewable products. Borealis will use Neste’s renewable propane, produced in Rotterdam, at its facilities in Belgium to create an entire portfolio of applications based on renewable-PP. This marks the first time that Borealis uses biobased feedstock to partially replace fossil feedstock in commercial production of PP. It reportedly will also be the first time ever that renewable propane dehydrogenation (PDH) is carried out at an industrial scale. Borealis says its PDH and PP plant set-up in Kallo will enable it to start offering biobased-propylene and consequently biobasedPP in which the biobased content can be physically verified and measured. In addition, Borealis says it will continue to apply mass balance approach in its production at Kallo and Beringen to take a major step forward to provide both renewable propylene and renewable PP to its customers. The process will be certified by PolyOne has launched its reSound OM the ISCC Plus. (overmoulding) TPEs US firm PolyOne launched its reSound OM (overmoulding) thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs), which utilise between 40 and 50% bio-renewable content derived from sugarcane, and offer hardness levels and performance comparable to standard TPEs. Commercially available in all regions, the product portfolio consists of four overmoulding grades compatible with rigid PP and one suited for overmoulding onto ABS.



Polyolefins go green Chemical firms are claiming firsts in the industry, against the back of the drive for further sustainability. Inovyn launched its latest generation of Biovyn PVC, becoming the world’s first commercial producer of bioattributed PVC using a supply chain fully certified by The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), it says.

Inovyn has launched the first bio-attributed PVC

Manufactured at Rheinberg, Germany, Biovyn is made using bio-attributed ethylene, a renewable feedstock derived from biomass. It is certified by RSB as delivering a 100% substitution of fossil feedstock in its production system, enabling a greenhouse gas saving of over 90% compared to conventionally produced PVC. The new PVC is expected to have numerous applications across a range of industry sectors, including automotive and medical. Inovyn has been working closely with flooring maker Tarkett since the early stages of product development and the first application will be by Tarkett, who will source it for a new flooring collection. Meanwhile, compatriot Sabic has launched the first of its polycarbonate (PC), under the Lexan brand, based on certified renewable feedstock, which it says is a first in the industry. Sabic’s PC cradle-to-gate LCA study reveals potentially significant reductions in carbon footprint (up to 50%) and fossil depletion impacts (up to 35%) for the production of renewable-feedstock PC resin, in comparison to fossil-based production. It says customers can use the new PC resins on their existing equipment, under identical process conditions. The latest PC is part of Sabic's Trucircle initiative of circular solutions. The chemical firm says it worked closely with ISCC and the resulting sustainability claims were verified by independent third party auditors. In addition, Spanish oil and gas company CEPSA is a value chain partner in this project, supporting Sabic Sabic’s renewable PC will be produced in the Netherlands for a start

K2019 Review through the production of renewable intermediates. The PC will be produced initially at its manufacturing facilities in Bergen op Zoom, the Netherlands, with global availability in the future. Spanish chemical firm Repsol has obtained ISCC PLUS certification for its complex in Puertollano for the first tonnes of circular PE and PPE that are already commercially available to its customers in Europe. Repsol’s circular polyolefins are produced by oils obtained from plastic waste not suitable for mechanical recycling. This new raw material is fed alongside conventional raw material at its refinery, reducing the consumption of non-renewable resources. These certified materials ensure the traceability of the plastic waste used at the source and at the same time, offer the same quality and functionality as virgin polyolefins. Borealis is extending its Borcycle range of recycled polyolefins (rPO) that will also become the home brand for all its existing Daplen PCR grades. Borealis says it is targeting demanding new high-end applications for Borcycle in global key markets, particularly In a pilot application of Borcycle within household from Borealis, several parts of appliances, automotive a Bosch vacuum cleaner were components and consumer showcased products. The first product introduced in June 2019 and especially suited for use in visible black parts , e.g., in small appliances, Borcycle MF1981SY has a content of over 80% recycled materials. Pilot applications moulded in this rPO include several parts of a Bosch vacuum cleaner. Additives take a sustainability route Against the back of further sustainability efforts, Swiss chemical firm Clariant has teamed up with Neste to offer a wide range of additives based on mass balancecertified ethylene and propylene from renewable feedstock, As an outcome of this cooperation, Clariant is launching new Terra additives solutions, like-forlike drop-ins, with no need to retest, renew registrations or to modify production processes or equipment and carrying a mass balance certification, says Clariant. These include new Exolit OP Terra halogen-free flame retardants with six new product launches; Clariant launched new new Licocene Terra range biobased additives, in including both waxes for partnership with Neste plastic processing and Performance Polymers (LPP) as hot melt adhesives

that allow bonding and debonding and improve the recyclability of post-industrial and post-consumer waste. In addition to its Terra range, Clariant introduced its new Vita range consisting of six rice bran waxbased solutions for formulators of engineering plastics, bioplastic compounds and masterbatches. Meanwhile, in related news, Clariant has tied up with UK-based business developing a new standard in biodegradable and compostable plastics Polymateria to bring its new Biotransformation technology to market in Southeast Asia, since the region is the main source of “fugitive” plastic globally. Fugitive plastic makes up the 32% of plastic each year that escapes the circular economy and leaks into the natural environment. Previous issues with biodegradable solutions have faltered, largely due to microplastics and lack of compatibility with recycling systems. There has also been confusion from consumers around what action to take once they are finished with the packaging. In order for the circular economy to work, “Good Cycling” is needed, which has influenced the development of Polymateria’s Biotransformation that ensures return to nature without creating microplastics. It also ensures products don’t begin biodegrading until a pre-programmed timeframe has elapsed and importantly allows for recycling to take place. Chemical recycling of plastics that are difficult to recycle Not all plastic waste can be economically recycled today and thus returned to the circular economy. Materials processing specialist Vecoplan demonstrated that chemical recycling can be an option in such a case, with US company Brightmark Energy using a chemical process developed in-house to turn 100,000 tonnes/ year of plastic waste that is difficult to recycle into new products such as diesel fuel or waxes. “In this way, our customer Brightmark prevents this waste from ending up in landfill,” said Martina Schmidt, Head of Vecoplan's recycling/waste business unit, adding that chemical recycling can be a way of giving plastic waste a second life. Elsewhere, Trinseo is collaborating with Ineos Styrolution on chemical recycling of PS. The company is also offering PC/ABS blends with up to 70% recyclate content. Also featured are biobased and biodegradable TPUs for applications such as coffee pods.

Vecoplan’s equipment is being used by Brightmark for chemical recycling NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


Chemicals Sector

Plastics producers in danger of becoming household names for all the wrong reasons By John Richardson, Senior Consultant Asia, ICIS


he plastics or polymers industry was for many years a hidden industry. For most of its history, nobody has known much about the plastics business because it is sandwiched between oil and gas and a huge variety of finished goods. The meat cannot be seen because of the high visibility of the bread around the sandwich. But now, for all the wrong reasons, companies which produce the polymers that go into everything from plastic bottles and films to Tupperware containers, disposable coffee cups and plastic bags are being recognised by the legislators and the general public. This is the result of the huge pushback against the scourge of plastic rubbish in our rivers and oceans. For the longest time, from the birth of the modern plastics industry in the 1950s, nobody has given much thought to the environmental impact of what the polymer companies do. Just to explain what is meant by polymer producers it is the companies, such as ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips Chemicals, LyondellBasell Industries and Dow Chemical, which make a wide array of different types of polymer pellets from raw materials derived from oil and gas. Their job traditionally more or less ended once they had shipped polymer pellets to the plastic converters or fabricators. These are the group of companies that melt the polymer pellets down in order to reform them into plastic pipes, bottles, films and bags etc. – the very heart of our modern way of life. John Richardson, Senior Con “You do what has sultant at ICIS, ascertains why plastics producers are in danger to be done to make money and the way of becoming household names to make money as a for all the wrong reasons



polymers company was to look upstream, towards your cost of oil and gas raw materials,” said a strategic planner with a major oil, gas and polymers company. “All that mattered was how cheap you could get your raw materials from as nobody questioned how polymers were made from a sustainability perspective. Demand also wasn’t the problem as plastics found their way into more and more aspects of our modern-day lives. Consumption growth was tremendous.” Types of recycling Polymer producers are now under tremendous public and legislative pressure to find technically and economically more efficient ways of recycling plastics – in other words, making their products not from oil and gas but from used plastics. Recycling falls into two categories – mechanical and chemical. Mechanical involves collecting and sorting waste plastic, an expensive and logistically challenging task, and melting it down to turn it back into finished plastic products.

Polymer producers are seeking more efficient ways of recycling plastics

Chemical recycling involves breaking down plastics back into their chemicals components. What you are left with are transportation fuels and something called naphtha.

Chemicals Sector Naphtha is traditionally made from oil refineries and is a raw material for producing polymers such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). There is a lot of scepticism within the industry about the economic and technical viability of chemicals recycling. The problem is achieving the levels of purity necessary to produce naphtha of the right quality to replace naphtha made from an oil refinery. Spotlight on chemical recycling Some industry players are predicting major breakthroughs in chemicals recycling over the next five years that radically change the polymers business. Instead of building new, multi-billion dollar conventional polymer production complexes – and there has been a huge wave of construction of these complexes over the last five years, especially in the US – the production model could shift to one of numerous small chemicals recycling plants. The plants would take waste plastic from landfill sites at a negative raw material cost. The operators of the landfill sites would be happy to pay polymer companies to take plastic rubbish off their hands in order to save on fees for landfilling. Would all of these hundreds of small chemicals recycling plants, however, collectively make enough naphtha raw materials to make the plastics to meet global demand? This is where the demand side of the equation comes under the picture. Through global initiatives such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the brand owners – i.e. the sellers of bottles of shampoo and detergents and a wide range of other consumer disposables, such as Procter and Gamble and Unilever – have made commitments to switch to recycled plastics and to reduce their plastic consumption. The retailers, including the major supermarkets, are even introducing bans on plastic packaging all together, replacing it with more recyclable packaging made from paper and aluminium. Polymer producers are working with There have brand owners and retailers to redesign plastic packaging to make it more been numerous recyclable government initiatives, across both the developed and developing world, to ban certain applications of plastics entirely – such as the ubiquitous and much maligned supermarket shopping bag, which is made from PE.

This is forcing the polymer producers to look much more downstream for their economic success instead of mainly upstream. They will need to work with the brand owners and the retailers to redesign plastic packaging to make it more recyclable and reduce its plastic content in the first place. Less is more! “Less is more” has become the new Zeitgeist amongst the Millennials, according to research by the brand owners, replacing the “more and more” thinking of their parents. Social media is placing greater value over experiences rather than things and has raised environmental consciousness. This is pushing the Millennials to consume less modern-stay stuff, including goods wrapped in single-use plastics. It is single-use plastics which are the main cause of the global plastics rubbish crisis.

PE is the polymer most exposed to the plastic rubbish crisis as more than half of its end-use applications are single use

This is not just a rich-world phenomenon. The ability to connect globally via smartphones has led to the same mind set amongst Millennials in Indonesia as in the West, according to research by one major brand owner. In 2013, just 58 million of the population of Indonesia – 24% – owned smartphones. But this year, ownership is forecast to rise to 180 million – 67%. Three scenarios for PE Polymer companies recognise that their future success won’t just depend on working with the brand owners and retailers on redesigning packaging, which will require them to invest in new technical/ commercial teams. They will also have to take responsibility of the final disposal of plastic products. Some companies believe that legislators will introduce plastics taxes, or even a plastics credit trading system similar to the carbon credits system in the EU, which penalises or benefits companies, depending on the extent to which they sustainably dispose of plastic rubbish. NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


Chemicals Sector The core of the disposal problem centres on ten rivers in the developing world, eight in Asia and two in Africa. A 2018 study by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research estimates that 90% of the plastic rubbish in the world’s oceans comes from these ten rivers. One polymer company leading the way is the Vienna-headquartered Borealis. It is partnering with the Norwegian government and other companies in establishing a plastic rubbish collection and recycling scheme in the city of Muncar in East, Java, Indonesia. The aim is to prevent 10,000 tonnes of plastic rubbish from leaking into the ocean over the next five years. “I think it’s only a question of time before we see some sort of global legislation aimed at plastic rubbish. As legislation develops this could change the terms under which we operate,” added the strategic planner with the oil, gas and polymers company. PE is the polymer or plastic most exposed to the plastic rubbish crisis as more than half of its end-use applications are single use. It is heavily used it to make plastic films, food containers and bottles. The growth of PE demand since its invention in the 1930s, when it was first used to insulate radar cables, has been quite staggering. The ICIS Supply & Demand data on PE goes back as far as 1978. In that year, global consumption was just 11 million tonnes, but by 2018 it had reached 102 million tonnes. Annual average percentage demand growth was at 5.7%.

The ICIS base case forecast is that from 2019 until 2030 global demand will jump further from 107 million tonnes to 156 million tonnes at an annual average growth rate of 3.6%. This “business usual” base case assumes major effect from the public and political backlash against plastic rubbish.



The two other ICIS scenarios present very different outcomes for PE demand and thus the financial fortunes of the polymer producers. Scenario 2 assumes moderately lower growth of 3% a year as the industry successfully works with brand owners and retailers to redesign packaging, invests substantially in mechanical and chemicals recycling and in reducing river and ocean pollution. Instead of being focused mainly on getting hold of cheap oil and gas raw materials to make more and more PE, the focus of the producers switches to being service or solution providers for the plastic rubbish problem. These new services help replace the revenue lost by 2019-2030 cumulative demand growth being 60 million tonnes less than in our base. But, if the polymer industry were to largely ignore the problem then PE would be increasingly replaced by other more recyclable packaging materials such as aluminium and paper. Brand owners and retailers would stop using PE entirely wherever possible, in favour of other materials. Here we see PE demand growth falling to just 2% a year. The effect on the polymer industry would be quite devastating under this third scenario. In each of the years between 2019 and 2030, on a cumulative basis again, demand would be 181 million tonnes less than our base case. In the great scheme of things, Scenario 3 might appear to have few consequences beyond the effect on the companies themselves. But many of the major polymer producers are also oil and gas producers and some of the household names that are important for stock markets and pension funds. This worstcase outcome would therefore have broad implications. The good news is that ICIS sees this third scenario as highly unlikely as the polymer companies are showing every indication of taking the plastic rubbish problem very, very seriously.

Extrusion Technology at K2019 (Review) Technological advancements go hand-in-hand German extrusion machinery supplier Reifenhäuser Group and Russia’s largest integrated petrochemicals producer Sibur have joined forces to develop new polymer products at Sibur’s PolyLab centre, Russia's first R&D centre for the development and testing of polymer products. Reifenhäuser says it will use the products developed at PolyLab for its potential customers and launch custom solutions for the production of polymer sheet, film, and nonwoven materials. Reifenhäuser Cast Sheet Coating supplied two extrusion lines and Reifenhäuser Blown Film Polyrema delivered a three-layer blown film line for PolyLab, to test new developments and film recipes. The cast film line, a type MIDEX 5-60/120/60-2000, is designed to produce CPP film, LDPE film, and stretch film. Its features include Reifenhäuser extruders that process all polymers without changing screws and the MIDEX-RA rotary arm winder that is adapted also to processing stretch and PET film. Sibur uses the second line, a type MIREX-MT-H 1-800900 sheet line, to process PP film that is then processed into cups and trays on a thermoformer. The core of this line is the polishing stack of the MIRX-MT-H series. It has vertical polishing rolls and mechatronic nip adjustment. The two lines are equipped for the production of PET film. New raw materials and film recipes go hand-in-hand with the current debate on sustainability and the Circular Economy and according to Ulrich Reifenhäuser, CSO of the Reifenhäuser Group, “Sibur will test new raw materials developments and in the future will launch products that are recyclable and reusable.”

An example of a cast sheet film line supplied to Sibur

Sticking to one material for circular economy At its booth at the K show, Reifenhäuser had around 15 examples of the circular economy. One of these is the usage of PE, as an economical alternative to PET, and its patented EVO Ultra Stretch system. In conventional composite packaging, PET provides stability and barrier properties. On the downside, its recyclability is restricted. Reifenhäuser says stretched PE produced with its technology can fully replace PET with no

Reifenhäuser had 15 examples of circular economy at its booth

loss of quality plus allow for mechanical properties that meet the requirements of the packaging industry. The process involves stretching the film from initial heat to ten times its surface area. Due to its patented positioning in the haul-off, the EVO Ultra Stretch features low energy consumption and stability. A major advantage is that the PE film can be converted on existing conversion lines with no adaptation required. This makes the switchover to PE monomaterial considerably easier. Reifenhäuser said the Reifenhäuser’s EVO Ultra application has already passed its field trials successfully at a Stretch unit allows for customer and brand owner. all PE pouches Recycled materials pumped up with performance materials With the growing demand for packaging that focuses on being recyclable and uses recycled materials, US materials firm ExxonMobil collaborated in a number of examples at extrusion machinery booths. With Reifenhäuser, it collaborated to make heavy duty sacks (HDS) using 37% recycled PE from heavy duty sacks, on Reifenhäuser’s EVO fivelayer blown film converting technology. The system lowers melt temperatures by as much as 20°C and combined with a compact die head, allows for increased processability. ExxonMobil and Reifenhäuser have created heavy duty sacks made with multi-cycle recycled PE NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


Extrusion Technology at K2019 (Review) The “take-off” system lowers the risk of thick film blocking and edge breakage. ExxonMobil upped the ante by combining the recycled PE with its Exceed XP performance PE and HDPE, to maintain the performance of the sacks, even when fourth-cycle recycled PE heavy duty sacks are included in the formulation. The formulation contains recycled PE in the core and Exceed XP in the skin-layers, which allows the properties of the film to be retained. ExxonMobil also collaborated with German machinery maker Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) by demonstrating a 40-micron, five-layer polyolefin dedicated (POD) collation shrink film, which includes 30% recycled PE. The collation shrink film was shown processed on W&H’s Varex II blown film line, and again included ExxonMobil’s Exceed XP, Enable performance PE polymers and LDPE in the formulation.

ExxonMobil and W&H have created a POD collation shrink film with 30% recycled PE

The collation shrink film boasts toughness, holding force and shrink performance for high integrity packaging and storage stability at thinner gauge. Optical properties provide visual in-store consumer appeal while the film is easy to process with fast start/stop technology and high output. It has been validated by film and packaging producer Grupo Armando Alvarez to effectively package 6 x 1.5 l bottles. In yet another development, stand-up pouches (SUPs) can now be made using recycled material from full PE laminated SUPs and PE polymers. This was demonstrated in a collaboration between ExxonMobil, Hosokawa Alpine AG, Erema Engineering Recycling and Henkel. The new SUP packages combine 30% recycled PE with 70% virgin ExxonMobil performance PE polymers, as an alternative to BOPP, BOPET, or BOPA, and are suited for non-food applications, such as detergents. The films were fabricated on Hosokawa Alpine’s MDO line with Trio technology, allowing for optical (gloss and haze) and stiffness properties. These films need to be stretched less than five times, compared to six times when using other polymers, which improves the MDO processability, say the companies. Meanwhile, Loctite Liofol solvent-free adhesives from Henkel’s newly introduced RE product range are “designed for recycling”, by offering a set of features allowing homogenous laminates to be recycled mechanically.



Stand-up pouches (SUPs) can now be made using recycled material from full PE laminated SUPs

The SUPs were later recycled on Erema’s Intarema TVEplus system that combines filtration, homogenisation and degassing in a single step. “ExxonMobil introduced full PE laminated SUP packaging solutions as a replacement for conventional multi-material structures which can be difficult to recycle. These full PE SUPs can be easily recycled where programmes and facilities to collect and recycle plastic films exist,” said David Hergenrether, ExxonMobil Chemical Vice-President, PE. SML displays high-volume stretch film system Austria’s SML showcased its new high-performance PowerCast XL stretch film line at K2019. The 169-tonne system had been set up by a team of SML engineers in what it said was a record-breaking time of only 20 days.

SML showed its its new high-performance PowerCast XL stretch film line

The PowerCast XL is specially designed for customers requiring a high roll-width flexibility, a wide thickness range and high output volumes. Claiming that it is the only brand-name supplier in this segment, SML says it covers stretch wrap film lines of all sizes, offering solutions in widths from 1,500-6,000mm. As a further development of SML’s PowerCast concept, the XL boasts a net film width of 4,500 mm. Without increasing the trim ratio, the new line is able to produce 400, 450, 500 and 750 mm wide rolls. Other technical features of the new system are: • eight extruders, 13 layers • a 5,435mm wide CloerenReflexTM die

Extrusion Technology at K2019 (Review) • a 1,600 mm diameter chill roll with a 5,500 mm width • a double turret winder, W4000 4S 2T, with four shafts per turret As well, SML’s newly introduced "hands-free" operation of the extrusion die makes product changes on the new PowerCast XL line fast and straightforward. Less manpower is required, waste is reduced and overall line effectiveness is raised significantly. With the new ReflexTM die in combination with the in-house developed Booster regulation, the line operator does not need to manually interfere in crossprofile adjustment at product changes any more. Using a conventional system, it takes sometimes 30-45 minutes until the required product quality is reached. The available “hands-free” and Booster regulation can do this in around 10 minutes completely automatically. The automatic mapping of the die bolts is another innovation from SML to minimise both personnel costs and waste production. With conventional equipment, the operator needs to do a manual die mapping at every product change to ensure the good regulation of the thickness gauge. With the new automatic version developed by SML, a special software constantly regulates the expanding and contracting of the die bolt at a defined position to the film. The thickness measuring unit recognises the position of the bolt and automatically readjusts the mapping. All of SML’s stretch film lines can measure the real temperature of the extruded film directly on the chill roll. This gives manufacturers the possibility to predict the quality of the film with regard to its elongation already inline during production. The operator then knows immediately if he needs to modify or readjust anything to achieve the right film.

The basis for the new cups is a three-layer PET (or PP) sheet with a physically foamed central layer that can be easily recycled. It says that the first outcome is “promising” with cups boasting a heat resistance of up to 100°C created form standard APET. The sheet for such cups can have an overall density of about 0.65 kg/ dm³, which saves material and increases the insulating properties, so that it is possible to hand-hold these cups filled with hot liquids. Unlike PS, mono-material foamed sheet, especially from PET, is also straight-forward to recycle. Indian processor first to take delivery of Brampton line US extrusion machinery maker Davis-Standard had all its companies under one roof as well as with the newest members of its global brands: Maillefer, Brampton Engineering and TSL. This was probably one of the reasons it managed to clinch sales of over US$17 million at the show. The new orders represent the full spectrum of DavisStandard’s product lines, including orders for pipe and tube systems, blown film systems and coating and lamination systems. In addition to complete lines, there are several developing projects for equipment and technology upgrades to existing product lines. And with India’s packaging sector having grown exponentially, it is no surprise that multilayer film processor Vishakha Polyfab was one of the latest orders. The processor has become the first in India to add Brampton’s AquaFrost water-quenched blown film technology. Vishakha has been a long-time Brampton customer, installing India’s first seven and nine-layer barrier blown film lines. With the addition of the water-quenching system, the company will be able to improve film clarity and thermoformability, balance orientation, and increase processing versatility with fewer resins, says Brampton. Besides the AquaFrost, it provides the multilayer AeroFrost air blown system, film winding and other film production solutions.

SML is working with Kiefel on mono-material hot fill cups made from foamed PET

Meanwhile, jumping on the circular economy bandwagon, over the last six months, SML has developed an extrusion method to make high quality stretch film from 80% post-consumer LLDPE/LDPE recycled materials. SML is also developing foamed sheet for hot fill applications, with new features in terms of heat resistance, insulation and recyclability, in a joint R&D programme with German thermoforming machinery maker Kiefel.

Vishakha Polyfab has become India’s first with AquaFrost technology from Brampton NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2019


Injection Moulding Asia Machinery

K2019: Slower industry growth; circular economy a gamechanger Against the backdrop of a slowing economy

Sales down; investments in infrastructure up The first of the conferences kicked off by German machinery maker Arburg was a harbinger of not-toogood news. Arburg’s Managing Partner Michael Hehl pointed out that 2019 would be challenging as a result of the “difficult economic situation”. Although Hehl declined to say how the company would fare, he hinted it would not reach the record sales revenue of EUR754 million in 2018. “We are aware of the downturn in order intake levels that has affected less complex machines but the good thing is that the economic slowdown creates shorter delivery lead times,” he perused.

caused by uncertainties of Brexit and the US/

China trade war, as well as a downturn in the automotive sector, Euromap and machinery

makers forecasted lower turnovers. However,

there were some bright spots like the circular economy and digitalisation showcases.


orldwide production of plastics and rubber machinery rose by 1.3% to EUR36.8 billion in 2018. Of this, European manufacturers accounted for a lion’s share of 42.3%, rising up by 1.9%. However, an economic slowdown is forecast. “After ten years of continuous growth and an increase in the Euromap production of 59% since 2010, 2019 will see the expected dip,” said Luciano Anceschi, President of the European umbrella organisation of plastics and rubber machinery associations (Euromap).

Arburg’s Michael Hehl pointed out that 2019 would be challenging as a result of the “difficult economic situation”

But despite this, Arburg has invested doubledigit million Euros to expand its infrastructure at its headquarters in Lossburg, such as the Training Centre to be launched in 2020; and a new assembly building for large Allrounders and turnkey systems. Furthermore, in the US, it is increasing the size of the head office in Connecticut by 50%, as well as in Italy, while the French subsidiary will have a new building with expanded area of 25% to 1,600 sq m by next year. Meanwhile, compatriot machinery maker Engel also cited similar factors as deterrents to sales/investments. Christoph Steger, Chief Sales Officer, noted the “drastic declines worldwide”, with the automotive business, which is its largest sector in its five business units, being hardest hit. Having closed the 2018/19 year with EUR1.6 billion sales, Steger projected the current year sales to decline by 19% Engel’s Christoph Steger to EUR1.3 billion. “We have noted the “drastic declines had ten great years and have worldwide”, with the to face the fact of the tenautomotive business, which year cycle.” But he furthered is its largest sector in its five business units, being that the market could hardest hit capitalise on the recycling/ circular economy. “Recycling should be viewed as an opportunity and rules have to be set worldwide with incentives needed to ensure all countries undertake recycling.”

Euromap executives expect the industry to embrace the circular economy, even as the industry faces economic challenges

Anceschi, speaking ahead of the start of the October-held K2019 show in Germany, said the slump in the automobile sector, decreasing investments due to the US/China trade war, Brexit and “unpredictable national laws for the use of plastics” would result in a turnover decline of 10% in the current year and 5% in 2020. But the silver lining at K2019 proved to be the circular economy. And with the European Commission demanding the use of 10 million tonnes of recycled materials in Europe by 2025, from the 2.5 million tonnes now, it is expected that the circular economy will become a growing business field.


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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery In terms of infrastructure spending, Engel has almost completed its 2020 EUR400 million investment programme into capacity expansions and upgrades across its sites. At its large machine facility in St Valentin, Austria, Engel is setting up a customer technology centre while it opened a customer centre at its headquarters in Schwertberg in July. Machinery, robot and auxiliary equipment maker Wittmann Group also echoed a successful ten-year run, according to CEO Michael Wittmann. “The current situation reminds us of the 2008/9 period but now we are faced with market fluctuations,” he added. Having generated sales of EUR425 million in 2018, Michael forecast a turnover of EUR377 million for 2019, a decline of 11%. As for 2020, he said it would be difficult to make a forecast, adding, “We are entering 2020 with a lower backlog than we had in 2019 and this makes a huge difference.” Nevertheless, the company has proceeded with its expansions, having added on 2,150 sq m to its facility in Kottingbrunn, Austria, while its subsidiary Wittmann Battenfeld expanded its facilities in Germany, Czech Republic, Mexico and Italy.

But despite the rising propensity to invest, the CEO maintains a cautious economic focus, emphasising that he doesn’t foresee an end to the crisis. Liebig added the company would continue to increase production capacity and invest in R&D and production support, such as MyConnect, to assist customers with application optimisation. Taking a more relaxed approach at its press conference was Munich-based KraussMaffei Group, with its executives in casual sneakers and in the company’s brand colours. “We are taking steps into the future, and we are not afraid to do so,” CEO Frank Stieler said, while placing emphasis on the company’s new brand identity as well as on upgrading works on infrastructure globally. With the support from its parent company China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina), KraussMaffei has kicked off four projects to modernise its operations. It is currently planning or building KraussMaffei’s Frank Stieler production facilities placed emphasis on the company’s new brand identity in Munich/Parsdorf, as well as on upgrading works Hannover/Laatzen, Einbeck on its sites globally (Burgsmüller) and Jiaxing/ China. Stieler added, “We make KraussMaffei fit for the future.” Touching on the market situation, Stieler said, “Our fundamentals are intact, and although we cannot predict how the automotive and packaging sectors will do, markets will require products (and machines).”

Feeling the pinch, but soldiering on Another company feeling the pinch is Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery, with sales down to EUR286 million, about 9% down from EUR295 million in 2018, said CEO Gerd Liebig. He also said the company has had a good run and now needs to be more flexible to meet the economic uncertainties. Nonetheless, in a post-show report, Liebig reported EUR25 million sales confirmed over the eight-day exhibition, hailing the show an “unprecedented success”.

Plunging into the circular economy Arburg launched its arburgGREENworld, its solution to the circular economy, a green programme that rests on the four pillars of Green Machine, Green Production, Green Services and Green Environment.

Though SHI CEO Gerd Liebig noted that visitors to the stand were less than K2016, the company managed to secure orders worth EUR25 million

Arburg showcased its concentrated expertise on the circular economy


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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery

Engel’s Sim Link makes it possible to transfer simulation data to a machine and to import measurement datasets from the machine control unit to the simulation software

US company Milacron Holdings Corp. tied up with Swiss firm ei3 Corp to introduce M-Powered, its digital solutions business, which offers a full-suite of Industry 4.0 services and predictive functions that uses advanced analytics and AI to capture value from machine data to improve overall machine performance, such as availability, quality, uptime and others. The system is able to monito Milacron machine components like heater bands, hydraulic pumps, and feed screws. To support this, Milacron said it is tripling its work force for its digital solutions to further monitor projects.

On the new Allrounder 1020H Arburg showcased a circular economy display of PP cups containing recycled PP

On the show floor, Arburg cooperated with recycling machine maker Erema that provided the recyclate for the production of thinwall cups containing 30% PP recyclate and PP material from Borealis on a new Allrounder 1020H Packaging version with 6,000 kN clamping force and the new size 7,000 injection unit. A second circular economy application demonstrated how PCR material from household waste can be returned to the cycle to produce durable technical products. In this process, an electric twocomponent Allrounder 630A with 2,500 kN of clamping force produced handles for the safety door of Allrounder machines from PCR and TPE. The PCR is based on PP (Dipolen) and is supplied by mtm plastics (Borealis Group), processed using the ProFoam foaming process, and the two foamed handle halves plus the inserts were assembled in the mould. Digitalisation no more a buzz word Under the arburgXworld banner, which will be available globally in 18 languages, Arburg presented a variety of new apps for the customer portal bearing the same name – from “Machine Finder” for finding the right Allrounder and “Virtual Control” for simulating the machine control system, through to “Self Service” for guided error analysis and troubleshooting. Elsewhere, Engel announced its collaboration with 3D design software firm Autodesk on a product known as Sim Link, which will be available globally next year. The aim is to link the simulation with the real process, in order to be able to better support the plastics processor throughout the complete product life cycle – from product development and tool design through to production. Engel demonstrated this at K by showing how the results of simulations performed using Autodesk’s Moldflow simulation software can be transferred to Engel’s CC300 control unit and how process and measurement data can flow back from the machine for use in the simulation.

Milacron has tied up with ei3 Corp to introduce its digital solutions business

Sumitomo Demag’s web-based myConnect software is designed to optimise the cooperation with production managers and maintenance staff in moulding plants. The single platform enables customers to get instant assistance, including machinery support and visual troubleshooting, online documentation and order parts direct from a digital catalogues, allowing reduced operating costs and more efficiency, it said. Meanwhile, KraussMaffei launched its Polymore online marketplace for compounds, masterbatches, and recycled and post-industrial materials. It boasts around 19 compounders and recyclers and KraussMaffei says more are to be added. While only available to customers in Italy and German-speaking countries, the company said it plans to expand its reach in the future. 3


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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • Russian oil/petchem firm Sibur and China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) will set up a joint venture for a 50 kilotonne/yearcapacity nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) facility in China. Sibur will own 40% and Sinopec, 60%. Sibur and Sinopec also signed a cooperation agreement to produce 20 kilotonnes/ year SEBS (styrene, ethylene and butylene-based block copolymers) in Russia. • Materials company Trinseo has completed the acquisition of US Dow Chemical’s latex production facilities at Rheinmunster, Germany. The US$44 million transaction includes two latex production facilities at Rheinmunster, as well as site infrastructure and services contracts, and approximately 108 employees who have transferred from Dow to Trinseo. • Japanese automotive parts maker Toyoda Gosei has invested US$460,000 into Japanese AI start-up Tryeting, which specialises in the development of materials using AI. Nagoya University’s Tryeting provides an AI platform that integrates various types of software, with a focus on materials informatics. • Australian Green Distillation Technologies (GDT) has signed a US$50 million agreement with Volco Power to set up five tyre recycling plants in South Africa that will process 700,000 old tyres into 8 million l/year of oil, 7,700 tonnes/year of carbon black and 2,000 tonnes/ year of steel. GDT currently

operates one plant in New South Wales and is raising capital for another in Toowoomba, Queensland. • Chinese tyre machinery maker Safe-Run Machinery has secured an international bid to supply US$100 million worth of production systems for fellow Chinese Shandong Linglong Tire’s new factory in Serbia.SafeRun has previously supplied intelligent automated production lines and PCR uni-stage tyre building machines for Linglong’s factories in China and Thailand. • Swedish tyre recycling company Enviro will be joining the India-Sweden Innovative Accelerator (ISIA) to bring new and improved technology to the Indian tyre recycling industry. ISIA, a collaboration project between the Swedish Energy Agency, Business Sweden and the Confederation of Indian Industries, is directed at selected Swedish companies as part of a longterm investment to establish renewable energy solutions in India. • Tyre manufacturers Michelin and Continental, together with software developer Smag, will start up Rubberway by end2019. In accordance with the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), Rubberway will assess practices and risks regarding environmental issues, social affairs, and Corporate Social Responsibility governance. • Michelin, French training and research institute

IFPEN and French biomass firm Axens are to construct the first industrial-scale prototype plant producing bio-butadiene in France. Launched in late 2012, the EUR70 million BioButterfly project aims to produce butadiene from 2G ethanol made from forest or agricultural residues and plant-ethanol. Construction will start in late 2019 and is expected to be completed in 2020 on Michelin’s site in Bassens, where Michelin is already using petroleum-butadiene to manufacture its synthetic rubbers for Europe. The industrial prototype requires validation to prove its technological and economic viability for mass production (between 20 and 30 tonnes/year). This is the last phase before industrial implementation of the process (100,000 tonnes/ year) to be marketed by Axens. • US-based speciality chemicals firm Cabot Corporation has opened its new fumed silica manufacturing facility in Wuhai, China, adding on an 8,000 tonnes/year in capacity, thereby becoming the largest producer in China. The joint venture project is with Inner Mongolia’s Hengyecheng Silicone (HYC) that will provide a long-term source of feedstock, with Cabot owning an 80% equity interest in the facility. • China-based Jiangsu General Science Technology will trial its US$300 million tyre production plant in December 2019 in Rayong Industrial Zone, Thailand. The plant is to produce 1


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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News million truck/bus tyres/year and 6 million passenger car tyres/year and will generate about US$320 million in revenue. The Chinese tyre maker is also investing US$80 million to set up a subsidiary based in Thailand as part of its overseas network and is developing a fully-automated “smart” tyre plant at its site in Wuxi, Jiangsu. • Synthetic elastomers company Arlanxeo has ramped-up sales of Keltan KSA EPDM rubber, produced in Saudi Arabia, through the course of 2019. Marketing and sales of the new EPDM grades are based on an agreement concluded between Arlanxeo and its parent company Saudi Aramco in 2018, while collaboration has been further enhanced by the take-over of full ownership of Arlanxeo by Saudi Aramco beginning of 2019. Arlanxeo is also investing in CR (chloroprene rubber) and NBR capacities. The turnaround of the CR plant in Dormagen, Germany, has been completed allowing for a production of up to 70,000 tonnes/year of CR. Furthermore, the modernisation of the NBR plant in La Wantzenau, France, started in mid-2018 and aims to bring the plant up to the latest technology standards. • UK polymers supplier Synthomer has inaugurated its new 36,000 tonnes expansion to its acrylic dispersions production facility in Worms, Germany. The investment increases the site’s capacity in excess of 30% and its fully automated production facility

significantly enhances the site’s capability to produce made to order speciality acrylics. Synthomer operates dispersion plants in the UK, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Italy and Spain, with Worms facility being its largest acrylic site in Europe. • Munich-based Wacker Group has opened a plant for manufacturing pyrogenic silica at its US site in Charleston, Tennessee, with a production capacity of 13,000 tonnes/year. Investments for the new facility total around US$150 million and have led to 50 new jobs at the Charleston site. Up to now, Wacker has produced pyrogenic silica at its German sites in Burghausen and Nünchritz and at its Zhangjiagang site in China. • Finnish tyre manufacturer Nokian Tyres has cut 41 jobs related to production, maintenance and testing at its passenger car tyre production plant in Nokian, in response to a weak automotive market. Meanwhile, Nokian has invested in a new Spanish testing facility and plans to increase heavy tyres capacity at its Nokian facility. Nokian also recently inaugurated its US plant in Dayton, Tennessee, for passenger/light truck tyres – its third overall and first outside of Europe – some two years after breaking ground on the US$360 million project. The 830,000sq ft factory features equipment from Comerio Ercole, HF Mixing Group, Herbert Maschinenbau, Steelastic and in-plant logistics from Cimcorp Oy.

• Michelin will close its truck tyre factory at La Rochesur-Yon, France, which will affect 619 employees, and a further 74 people who work in nearby Maine-et-Loiret, manufacturing rubber for the site in La Roche-sur-Yon. However, Michelin is looking at “a major public-private project” to relaunch the failing Roche-surYon site, which a US$77 million investment was unable to accomplish. Michelin employed about 110,000 people worldwide, including 20,000 in France, as of end-2018, but has recently also announced the closure of a German factory with 858 employees by 2021. • A major supplier to tyre plants in China, Chongqing General Trading Chemical (CGTC), has ceased execution of all unfinished contracts from September, after it ran into liquidity problems. • Technology firm Continental has decided to fully spin off its powertrain business Vitesco Technologies (Powertrain division) with subsequent listing. The company says it is tackling the accelerating trend toward powertrain electrification and “reacting to the at present largely unpredictable conditions” for a potential partial IPO in 2020. With this, it will no longer pursue a potential partial IPO of its powertrain operations, which had originally been considered. This is subject to the approval of the Supervisory Board of Continental by April 30, 2020. It could then take effect within the same year.


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Rubber Journal Asia Green Rubber

Tyre makers rally for sustainable “white gold” material Tyre makers are affirming their commitment

Rubber cultivation in the region takes up more than 8 million ha, with over 80% cultivated on small farms

to sustainable natural rubber sourcing while helping weed out unethical and

environmentally unsound practices across

its supply chain, says Angelica Buan in this article.

Lat e x : mi l k i n g t h e wh ite g o ld Inc r e a s i n g v e h i cl e s a l e s a n d e x p a n d i n g v e hicle flee t s i z e a r e e x p e c t e d t o d r i v e t h e g l o b a l tyre m ar ke t . T h ro u gh 2 0 2 2 , t h e g l o b a l t y r e m a r k e t is fore c a st t o exce e d US $ 3 1 9 b i l l i o n , T e c h Sc i R es e a rc h re p ort e d . T h i s m e a n s m o r e d e m and fo r natu r a l r u b b e r ( N R ) f r o m p r o d u c e r s , e s p e cially from S o u t h e a s t A s i a a n d S o u t h A s i a , w h i c h acco u n t e d f o r m o r e t h a n 9 0 % o f t h e g l o b a l rub ber ou t p u t . R u b b e r c u l t i v a t i o n i n t h e r e gio n tak e s u p m o r e t h a n 8 m i l l i o n h a , w i t h o v e r 80% cult i v a t ed o n sm a l l fa r m s . O n t h e f l i p s i d e o f t h i s s u r g i n g d e m a n d, the sit u a t i on i s a l so e l i ci t i n g i l l e g a l e x p a n s i o n s o f rub b e r p l a n t a t i o n s t o m e e t t h e g r o w i n g d emand for l a t e x , a l s o c a l l e d “ w h i t e g o l d ” , u s e d i n tyres and o t h e r e n d u s e r p r o d u c t s . S o m e p l a n t a tions are e v e n e n c r o a c h i n g p r o t e c t e d a n d r e s e r v ed fore s t a r e a s .

Global tyre makers, which consumed about 70% o f the w o rld’s rub b e r s up p ly, have ear lier on recognised the environmental risk posed by the growing rubber demand. Thus, they crafted their respective sustainability agenda to stem these une thic al p rac tic e s . In October 2018, a sustainable rubber cultivation p latfo rm, the Global Platform for Sustainable Natur al R ubber ( GPSNR ), w as fo rme d to suppor t the Wor ld B us ines s C ounc il f or Sus ta i nabl e Developm ent ( WB C SD)’s Tyre Industry Project (TIP ), a glo b al, C EO-le d o rganis atio n of over 200 le ading b us ine s s e s , to imp ro v e the s ustainability of the NR value chain. Singapore-sited GPSNR aims to “harmonise standards to improve respect for human rights, prevent land-grabbing and deforestation, protect biodiversity and water resources, improve yields, and inc re as e s up p ly c hain trans p are ncy and trac e ab ility”. T ec hnologic ally tr ac king s upply c hain GPSNR founding members, French tyre maker Mic helin, and Ge rman tyre make r Continental AG, together with French software developer, SMAG (Smart Agriculture), have developed a te c hno lo gic al s o lutio n fo r map p ing s u stainability practices in the NR supply chain. Through the jo int v e nture the y fo rme d in Singa por e, Soc iete des Matier es Pr em ier es T r opi cal es, the p artne rs w ill b e de p lo ying the te c hnical platf or m

Rubber plantations are expanding to meet the growing demand for latex, also called “white gold”, used in tyres and other end-user products


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Rubber Journal Asia Green Rubber Sc aling s us tainability s tandar ds B r idges tone Gr oup, the world’s largest tyre and rubber company and founding member of the GPSNR, has been enforcing its Global Sus tainab le P ro c ure me nt P o lic y (GSP P) , wh ich aims to create thriving and sustainable supply chains, and ultimately ensure alignment with the c o mp any’s us e o f 100% s us tainab le mater ials by 2050 and beyond. Thro ugh a 2018 p artne rs hip w ith EcoV adi s, a provider of sustainability, risk and performance ratings for global supply chains, Bridgestone monitors and rates the environmental, social and ethical performance of its supplie rs to he lp ide ntify and e v aluate qualifie d s u pplier s, promote best practices, and serve as a c o mmunic atio n and imp ro v e me nt to o l f or th e indus try o v e rall.

“Rubbe rwa y” . T h e l a t t e r is a s m a r t p h o n e a p p t h a t allo ws users t o m a p a n d ass e s s p r a c t i c e s a n d r i s k s rega rd i n g e n v i ro n m e n t a l issu e s , s o c i a l a f f a i r s and c orpo ra t e soc i a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y gov e r n a n c e t h r ou g h o u t the N R i n d u s t r y, f r o m rub b e r - p r o c e s s i n g plan t s d o w n s t r e a m t o plan t a t i o n s u p s tr e a m , acc ord i n g t o t h e p a r t n e r s . T h e R u bberw a y a p p has b e e n i n u s e s i n c e 2 0 1 7 and d u e f o r o p e r a t i o n by y e a r - e n d , t h e j o i n t ven t u r e i s e x p e ct e d t o c ompl y wi t h t h e ob jec t i v e s o f t h e G P S NR . M i c h e l i n sa i d t h e Rub b e r w a y a p p w a s dev e l o p e d t o m a p t h e t y r e The Rubberway app is able to map the tyre maker’s NR supply make r’ s N R supp l y ch a i n chain in different geographical in d i f f e r e n t g e o g r a p h i c a l areas are a s . T h e t e c h ni c a l plat f o r m a l r e a d y i s u s e d i n s o m e N R - p r o d ucing cou n t r i e s , s u c h a s T h a i l a n d , I n d o n e s i a , I v ory Coa st , N i geri a , G h a n a a n d B r a z i l , Mi ch e l i n s aid. C o n t i n e n t a l ’ s i n v e s t m e n t i n t h e j o i n t v enture wil l g o t o w a r d s o p e n i n g t h e p a t h t o w i d e r use of t h e a p p b y o t h e r t y r e m a k e r s a n d c a r p arts man uf a c t urers. Th e p r o j e ct , i t s a i d , w i l l b ene fit the N R s u p p l y c h a i n c o m p r i s e d o f a n e s t i mated 6 m i l l i o n f a r m e r s , 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 i n t e r m e d i a r i e s and ove r 5 0 0 p ro c e ss i n g p l a n t s .

Bridgestone engages EcoVadis’s methodology to ensure its suppliers comply with its sustainability policy

Bridgestone’s GSPP sets expectations for business partners and suppliers to operate with respect to human rights, environmental standards and product quality while including additional requirements for land conservation and rights, point of origin traceability and resilience. Clear-cut undertaking across the value chain German car maker BMW Group claims that transparency and sustainability throughout the value chain is integral to its company tenet as it is buying NR indirectly. The group alone needs around 24,000 tonnes/year of NR for vehicle tyres. Over the years, BMW, the only automotive company that is also represented in the GPSNR executive committee, has taken steps requiring greater sustainability from tyre manufacturers, it said.

GPSNR, a sustainable rubber cultivation platform was formed to improve the sustainability of the NR value chain


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Rubber Journal Asia Green Rubber US tyre producer Cooper Tire & Rubber Company underscored in its recent edition of corporate responsibility report its undertaking to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills from its manufacturing plants, while increasing the amount of waste that is recycled and reused by other sources. Cooper is recycling approximately 78% of waste annually. The GPSNR signatory is among the leaders in the industry who established this important work initiated by the WBCSD-TIP. Meanwhile, Cooper has been involved in the biorubber initiative together with its consortium partners, including Clemson University, Cornell University, PanAridus and the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, to study the use of guayule-based rubber in tyres. Guayule is a flowering shrub that is native in south western US and northern Mexico. In 2017, the Ohio-headquartered company completed a five-year US$6.9 million Biomass R&D Initiative (BRDI) grant. Cooper says it has completed tyre builds using guayule plants and new guayule related materials as early as 2014.

BMW, a member of the GPSNR, requires around 24,000 tonnes/year of NR for vehicle tyres

Ad h eri n g t o s i m i l a r t r a n s p a r e n c y r o u t e , fe llo w G PS N R membe r I t a l i a n t y r e m a k e r P ir e lli has laid out i t s S u s t a i n a b l e N a t u r a l R u b b e r P o l i c y (SNRP) Imp l e m e n t a t i o n R o a d m a p 2 0 1 9 - 2 0 2 1 t o e n sure its tier 1 s u p p l i e r s a d h e r e t o i t s s u s t a i n a b i l i t y policies. The S N R P a l so i n cl u d e s r i s k m a p p i n g a ct i v ity t o e v a l ua t e t h e r i s k s r e l a t e d t o t h e g e o g r a phic al area s o f sou rc i n g , a s w e l l a s o t h e r fe a t u r e s t ha t w i l l en su re t r a n s p a r e n c y i n a c t i v i t i e s and imp l emen t a t i o n s o f s u s t a i n a b l e s t r a t e g i e s a c ro s s its val ue c h a i n .

A different route: rubber from other sources Resourcing rubber from other plants is an option focused on by other tyre makers. US tyre manufacturer Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is pressing on with its plans to use soybean oil to replace petroleum-derived processing oils for its tyres by 2040. It also plans to increase its soybean oil consumption by 25% by 2020. It started using soybean oil in the tread compound of tyres in 2011. Apart from adopting green technology as a more sustainable approach and a boost to the US soybean industry, it reasoned that this strategy can attract a growing segment of eco-aware consumers. On the other hand, soybean oil helps keep the rubber compound pliable in changing temperatures, a key performance achievement in maintaining and enhancing the vehicle’s grip on the road surface. Goodyear has three tyre lines produced with soybean oil, namely the Assurance WeatherReady, Eagle Exhilarate and Eagle Enforcer All-Weather. Goodyear added that the commercialisation of soybean oil in tyres as its latest technology breakthrough builds on the company’s other recent innovations, such as the use of silica derived from rice husk ash, another component Goodyear is using in certain consumer tyres, along with current and past uses of components such as carbon fibre, DuPont Kevlar, volcanic sand and more. This is to say that there are various approaches to achieve sustainability of NR, which the tyre industry is committed to exploring and succeeding in.

More re c yc l i n g m e a n s le ss r u b b e r w a s te End o f l i f e t y r e s ( E L T s ) a r e d i f f i c u l t t o r e c ycle and whil e t h ey c a n b e r e u s e d a n d r e t r e a d e d , a t s o me poi n t , t h e s e t y r e s w i l l b e d i s c a r d e d . A n e s timated 1.5 bi l l i on t yre s/ y e a r a r e p o t e n t i a l l y ch o k ing up land f i l l s . H e l p i n g i n r e c y c l i n g t y r e w a s t e s can also ach i e v e t h e t y r e i n d u s t r y ’ s s u s t a i n a b i l i t y agenda.

Pirelli, Cooper Tire and Bridgestone have tapped Guayule-based rubber in developing sustainable tyres


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