PRA Magazine April 2024 Issue

Page 1

AS l A’S LEAD l NG m AGA z l NE for th E p LAS t l c S AND rubb E r l ND u S try DIGITAL


8 Country Focus

In pursuit of the reduction of carbon emissions, China is transforming its car industry and increasing the adoption of new energy vehicles, says Angelica Buan in this report

11 Packaging

The sustainability agenda has evolved significantly, and become an integral aspect of the ethos embraced by the environmentally conscious younger generation who are driving the trends in sustainable packaging, says Angelica Buan in this report

15 Machinery News

At Chinaplas 2024, Austrian extrusion machinery supplier SML will show a new type of multi-functional cast film system for the production of easy-torecycle mono-material film and its advanced Triplex coating and laminating line for aseptic cardboard packaging


1 Industry News

4 Materials News supplements

- recycling: Coca-Cola has debuted its 500 ml brands in 100% rpET bottles in hong Kong and Indonesia

- recycling: project Stop, co-founded by Austria’s Borealis and Systemiq, is making strides in Indonesia with 9,000 tonnes of plastic successfully collected as of December 2023

- recycling: After their merger, Coperion and herbold offer a broad base of solutions for recyclers and will showcase this at Chinaplas 2024

- Indian rubber: rJA interviews the All India rubber Industries Association (AIrIA)’s newly appointed president, Shashi Singh, on the emergence of the north-east region as a rubber supplier

- Country focus: Despite challenges in the global market and supply chain, Asia's primary rubber producers are successfully achieving their growth targets, with China playing a pivotal role as a major trade partner, adds Angelica Buan in this report


Stephanie Yuen



Prestige Trading



ISSN 1360-1245

AS l A’S LEAD l NG MAGA z l NE for T h E p LAST l CS AND ru BBE r l ND u ST ry Volume 39, No 271 publlshed slNce 1985
In this issue
AS A’S LEAD NG m AGA NE for DIGITAL The packaging sector is a key user of plastics materials. Thus, it is of importance that brand owners and materials suppliers stay up-to-date on the preferences by consumers, especially the younger generation, on
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Tel: +31 547 275005 Email: Associate publisher/executive editor Tej Fernandez Tel: +6017 884 9102 Email: senior editor Angelica Buan Email:
sustainability and recycling
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• Private equity firm Arsenal Capital Partners has completed a majority investment in Polycorp Ltd, a Canadian manufacturer of engineered elastomer solutions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Polycorp serves its global customer base with rubber- and polyurethane- based elastomer solutions.

• Speciality materials firm Trinseo has commenced a sale process for its 50% ownership in Americas Styrenics (AmSty), a joint venture with Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, by 2025. As part of its transformation strategy, the company had previously announced its intent to divest its styrenics businesses with a focus on selectively marketing individual assets or regional businesses. AmSty was established in 2008 and is part of Trinseo’s regional Styrenics Businesses operating in the Americas.

• Infinity Recycling (IRC)’s Circular Plastics Fund is investing in Ioniqa Technologies BV, a clean tech spinoff from the Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands), to help accelerate the scale-up and roll out of its enhanced PET recycling technology.

• SQM Lithium Ventures has invested US$9.4 million in UK electric vehicle battery recycler Altilium to help the company scale up its operations. The corporate venture arm of Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile's (SQM) lithium business provided most of the US$12 million Series A funding round for Altilium, following a US$2.6 million investment by SQM, the world's secondlargest lithium producer, in the start-up last year.

• Chemical firm

LyondellBasell has acquired mechanical recycling assets and properties containing rigid plastics recycling processing lines from PreZero, a US recycling/ waste management service provider. It includes leasing the processing facility in Jurupa Valley, California, which has a production capacity of 23,000 tonnes/year for recycled materials.

• Vienna-headquartered Constantia Flexibles is to acquire 57% of the shares of packaging producer Aluflexpack In parallel, Constantia Flexibles will launch an all-cash public tender offer for all publicly held registered shares of Aluflexpack.

• Speciality chemicals firm IMCD NV is to acquire the business of speciality distribution

company ResChem Technologies Pty Ltd and ResChem Trust in Australia and New Zealand. Terms were not disclosed. Established in 2007, ResChem specialises in resins, additives and pigments for use in inks, coatings, adhesives and construction applications.

• Sweden's Perstorp is buying out its minority partner in the joint venture Shandong Perstorp Chemical Co (formerly Shandong Fufeng Perstorp Chemical Co), which has owned and operated Site Zibo in China. Perstorp is now the sole owner of the polyol manufacturing operation, located in Zibo, Shandong province. It was established as a joint venture between Perstorp and their Chinese partner Shandong Fufeng Hongjin Investment Co in 2007. Gaining full ownership will ensure that Perstorp can continue developing the site, and can aim to make substantial site upgrades to safeguard the competitiveness of the site, it adds.

• Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) has closed the acquisition of a 24.9% shareholding in Austrian energy and chemicals group OMV from Mubadala Investment Company

Financial details were not disclosed. OMV is also owned by Austrian independent

holding company

Österreichische Beteiligungs AG (ÖBAG) (31.5%), with the remaining share capital in free float. Through this, Adnoc has increased its shareholdings in both Borealis and Borouge.

• Supplier of chemicals for the steel, automotive, energy, and aerospace industries Kodiak has strengthened its position in process fluids through the acquisition of Aztech Lubricants, expanding its product portfolio to powdered chemicals. Terms were not disclosed.

• Norwegian silicon-based materials provider

Elkem, in line with its cost reduction programme, is exiting its financial investment in battery materials company

Vianode, which is backed by global aluminium and renewable energy company Hydro and Altor Fund V, a fund managed by Altor Fund Manager.

• German speciality chemicals firm

Evonik is selling its superabsorbents business to the International Chemical Investors Group (ICIG). The purchase price is in the low triple-digit million euro range.

• Sumitomo Chemical Co has transferred its shares in Sumika Color Co to Nippon Pigment Company. Sumika Color is engaged in the organic pigment, masterbatch, and resin compound businesses.


Plant Expansions/Openings/Set-ups

• US-based circular economy startup firm Novoloop is constructing a pilot plant in India, in collaboration with public-listed speciality chemical manufacturer Aether Industries The project will unfold in phases, with the start-up of initial operations commencing in Q1 2024 and culminating in a 70-tonne/ year plastic intake capacity by the end of 2024.

• Turkey’s Bayegan is licensing Lummus Technology ’s Catofin technology for a new 450 kilotonnes/ year PDH unit and Lummus' Novolen technology for a new 450 kilotonnes/ year PP unit, to be constructed at its complex in the Hatay Province. It will be Lummus' first integrated PDH and PP complex in the country.

• QatarEnergy and Chevron Phillips Chemical are constructing a US$6 billion integrated polymers complex in Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar. The 435-acre project site will include an ethane cracker with a capacity of 2,080 kilotonnes/year of ethylene, making it the largest ethane cracker in the Middle

East and one of the largest in the world. It will also include two HDPE derivative units with a total capacity of 1,680 kilotonnes/year.

• German materials firm Covestro is implementing a unique process for producing aniline entirely based on plant biomass instead of petroleum for the first time. At its Leverkusen site, the plastics manufacturer has now put a special pilot plant into operation for this purpose.

• The joint venture between chemical firm Sabic and China’s Fujian Energy and Petrochemical Group Co recently held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of full execution and construction phase of the Sabic Fujian Petrochemical Complex (SinoSaudi Gulei Ethylene Complex Project) in Fujian province, China.

• Singapore-based petrochemicals, green energy and natural resources conglomerate, ChemOne Group , master developer of the Pengerang Energy Complex ( PEC ), has confirmed the commencement of execution for the

PEC with engineering progressing well for the aromatics project in Johor, Malaysia.

• US materials firm Eastman has achieved on-spec initial production and is generating revenue from its new molecular recycling facility in Kingsport, Tennessee.

• US energy firm Next Wave Energy Partners , a portfolio company of Energy Capital Partners ( ECP ), announced that its alkylate production facility, known as Project Traveler and located adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas, has achieved commercial operations.

• Russian oil company Gazprom Neft has started up a plant to recycle PP/PE packaging into secondary granules in Gatchina, Leningrad region, with a capacity of 8,600 tonnes/year.

• Swiss technology firm Sulzer will supply its PLA technology to India’s Balrampur Chini Mills that will construct India’s first bioplastics plant, which will produce 75,000 tonnes/year of bioplastic using sugarcane as a

feedstock. It will be located adjacent to one of BCML’s sugar cane processing facilities.

• AkzoNobel has added five new powder coating lines at its production plant in Hanoi, Vietnam, which will help to strengthen the company’s position in Asia for the consumer electronics market.

• Chennai-based Chemplast Sanmar is commissioning its 41,000-tonne/ year specialty paste PVC resin facility at Cuddalore, India, this year. The US$43 million plant has increased the company’s paste PVC capacity to 107,000 tonnes/year.

• Japan’s Zeon Corporation has completed construction of a recycling plant for cyclo olefin polymers (COP) at its Takaoka plant. It will have a production capacity of 6,000 tonnes/year.

• LyondellBasell has announced that Inner Mongolia Rongxin will use the its technologies for a 500 kilotonnes/year Spheripol PP plant and a 400 kilotonnes/ year Hostalen ACP HDPE plant, to be built in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, China.

Industry n ews 2 APRIL 2024

• Trinseo is closing down to its PC unit at Stade, Germany, by year-end, due to weak demand and prices, oversupply, high costs.

• Mexico's Orbia is putting a pause on the expansion plans for its PVC production capacity due to challenging market situations that have adversely impacted its profits in 2023.

• German firm BASF has inaugurated its Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) plant at the Zhanjiang site in China, the largest single TPU production line for BASF globally. The new site will be BASF’s largest investment to date with around EUR10 billion upon completion.

• German technology firm Merck has opened the Merck Digital Hub in Singapore, the first outside of the US and Europe for its digital business. Supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board ( EDB ), the hub aims to propel advancements within the healthcare and semiconductor industries.

• W.R. Grace & Co says that China Coal Shaanxi Energy & Chemical Group has expanded its license for its Unipol PP process technology, doubling its PP production capacity from 300,000 to 600,000 tonnes/ year. Located in

Yulin City, Shaanxi province, China, the new reactor line is expected to begin producing homopolymers, random and impact copolymers, and terpolymers in 2025.

• Materials firm Arkema has increased its global manufacturing capacity for Pebax elastomers by 40% at its Serquigny plant in France.

• Sweden-based specialty chemicals firm Perstorp has commissioned an ISCC Plus-certified plant in western India to meet growing market demand for Penta chemicals. Located in Sayakha, Gujarat, the facility was officially inaugurated recently. It has the capacity to annually produce

40,000 tonnes of Pentaerythritol and 26,000 tonnes of calcium formate.

• German methacrylate producer Röhm is expanding production capacity for Plexiglas moulding compounds at its largest global production site in Worms, Germany.

• Japan’s DIC Corporation ’s subsidiaries in India, DIC South Asia Private Limited in Mumbai and Ideal Chemi Plast Private in Badlapur, have together established the DIC South Asia Private Limited Application Lab, a dedicated laboratory for evaluating coating resins for automotive coatings and infrastructure applications.


Waste-to-hydrogen takes the cue in sustainable energy paradigm

As a vital component in achieving zero-emission fuel, energy storage, and grid stability, hydrogen stands out as a pivotal element in shaping a sustainable future. However, technologies for its extraction are still evolving, and face scrutiny due to environmental risks, says Angelica Buan.

Costly processes to produce hydrogen

Hydrogen, celebrated as a clean alternative to methane, a key component of natural gas extracted from oil and gas fields, claims the title of the lightest and most abundant element. It can be derived from various resources, including natural gas, nuclear power, biogas, and renewable sources like solar and wind energy. This energy-carrier element can be stored, transported, and utilised for power generation. Unlike conventional fuels, hydrogen combustion yields water instead of CO2, making it a climate-friendly energy source.

Governments, alongside diverse sectors, particularly those with significant carbon footprints, and the energy industries, are increasingly turning to hydrogen as a pathway to decarbonisation. Its production can stem from fossil fuels as well as renewable energy sources. New technologies are enabling generation of hydrogen from wastes as feedstock.

Hydrogen applications hold critical importance in sectors where emissions are challenging. The concept of a hydrogen economy, envisioning a future energy system where hydrogen serves as a sustainable energy carrier for various applications such as transportation, electricity generation, and industrial processes, is driving demand for hydrogen.

However, the caveat lies in the fact that while hydrogen is regarded as a promising alternative to fossil fuels, the methods currently employed to produce it either result in excessive CO2 emissions or are prohibitively expensive.

Eliminating plastic wastes via waste-to-hydrogen technology

According to data from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) , the world generates a staggering 400 million tonnes/year of plastic waste, and projections indicate a continued rise, with global primary plastic production expected to reach 1,100 million tonnes by 2050.

However, studies reveal that of the 7 billion tonnes of plastic waste, less than 10% has undergone recycling. The financial toll of this inefficiency is significant, with the estimated annual loss in the value of plastic

packaging waste during sorting and processing alone ranging between US$80-120 billion, UNEP reported.

For industries constantly seeking solutions to plastic waste, the Waste-to-Energy (WtE) method presents an enticing solution for transforming waste plastics into valuable products, such as hydrogen, regarded as the fuel of the future.

Waste-to-Energy technology presents an enticing solution in transforming waste plastics into valuable products, such as hydrogen, regarded as the fuel of the future.

Market potential of waste to hydrogen technology

The process of converting waste materials, typically plastics, into hydrogen is known as Waste-to-Hydrogen (WtH) technology.

The market potential for WtH conversion is substantial, buoyed by increasing public awareness. According to The Brainy Insights , “Waste to Hydrogen Market Size Report 2023-2032”, the global WtE market generated over US$4.6 billion in revenue in 2022, with projections indicating a CAGR of nearly 22.6% from 2023-2032, with the market peaking at US$35.4 billion.

Among the burgeoning businesses investing in WtH technology is UK-based Powerhouse Energy Group . Pioneering a hydrogen-generating plant utilising waste plastics, Powerhouse employs its proprietary

Materials News 4 APRIL 2024 Materials News

Powerhouse DMG technology at the Peel Plastic Park in the North West of England. Positioned within the energy and resource hub Protos, it has been selected as the site for a full-scale commercial application of Powerhouse’s plastics-to-hydrogen technology.

The technology converts unrecyclable plastics, typically disposed of through incineration or export, into synthesis gas (syngas), from which hydrogen is extracted. Once operational, the process becomes selfsustaining, requiring only a small amount of natural gas for initiation. The produced hydrogen will be compressed on-site for transportation via tube trailers or piped to nearby hydrogen fueling centres.

In a similar pursuit, German investment firm Wermuth Asset Management (WAM) has invested in Plagazi , a Swedish cleantech firm specialising in green hydrogen technology. Plagazi's technology converts various types of waste, including nonrecyclable materials, into hydrogen through plasma gasification, with operations across Europe.

One of their projects includes the Köping Hydrogen Park in Sweden, set to produce 12,000 tonnes/year of hydrogen from 66,000 tonnes of waste while providing 10 MW of district heating to the municipality.

WAM's investment, sourced from its Green Growth Fund 2 (GGF2), aims to support Plagazi's growth, with potential additional capital from the upcoming Clean Industrialisation Fund (GGF3). WAM shared that Plagazi's WtH technology offers promising potential for the European circular hydrogen economy.

Researches turn up the heat for sustainable gas

Closer to home, at Nanyang Technological University (NTU ), Singapore, scientists have developed a groundbreaking method utilising light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and a commercially-available catalyst, all at room temperature, to convert various types of plastic into valuable chemical components for energy storage. This innovative approach tackles the challenge of recycling plastics with stable carbon-carbon bonds.

Published in the journal Chem , the process offers energy efficiency and can be powered by renewable sources, unlike traditional methods such as pyrolysis, currently the sole commercial method for recycling waste plastics.

Led by Associate Professor Soo Han Sen of NTU's School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Biotechnology, the method effectively breaks down plastics like PP, PE, and PS, which collectively constitute a significant portion of global plastic waste.

By harnessing LED technology, which provides the initial energy to break the carbon-carbon bonds, coupled with the vanadium catalyst, the process follows a two-step approach. Firstly, the carbonhydrogen bonds in the plastics are oxidised, rendering them less stable and more reactive.

5 APRIL 2024 Materials News
Powerhouse Energy Group's first hydrogen generating plant at Protos will be using waste plastics based on its proprietary Powerhouse DMG technology. Plagazi's technology utilises plasma gasification to convert wastes into hydrogen

Subsequently, the carbon-carbon bonds are broken down, leading to the formation of chemical ingredients such as formic acid and benzoic acid, both vital for fuel cells and hydrogen storage.

In contrast to high-temperature methods like pyrolysis, this LED-driven technique demands less energy and is compatible with renewable sources such as solar or wind power.

This initiative forms a part of the Spruce project, aimed at repurposing plastics for a circular economy, with estimated annual economic benefits reaching millions of dollars. Supported by various entities including NTU, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste , the National Research Foundation, A*STAR , and the Ministry of Education , the project spotlights Singapore's commitment to sustainability.

Similarly, researchers at the University of Oxford’s Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, led by Professor Peter Edwards and Dr Tiancun Xiao, and collaborating with colleagues in the UK, China, and Saudi Arabia, have devised a method to convert plastic waste into hydrogen gas and high-value solid carbon.

The team developed and utilised a novel catalysis technique, which employs microwaves to activate catalyst particles, effectively extracting hydrogen from polymers.

Published in Nature Catalysis , the study outlines how plastic particles, when mixed with a microwavesusceptor catalyst, yield hydrogen gas and carbonaceous materials, predominantly carbon nanotubes. This onestep process simplifies plastic waste management, extracting over 97% of hydrogen quickly and affordably, without CO2 emissions.

The research originated from fundamental studies of the size-induced metal to insulator transition (SIMIT), showcasing the practical application of deep scientific understanding. The researchers discovered that as metal particles transition into the mesoscopic regime via SIMIT, their conductivity decreases significantly, while their microwave absorption increases substantially. This event causes small metallic particles below the SIMIT threshold to act as highly efficient microwave absorbers, generating numerous small "hot spots" when exposed to microwave radiation. Consequently, these hot spots effectively heat catalyst particles, enhancing their reactivity.

Photoreforming: sunlight-driven innovation

Elsewhere, scientists at UK’s Swansea University and the University of Cambridge discovered a sunlightdriven method called photoreforming to convert plastic waste into hydrogen and useful chemicals.

Photoreforming, a sunlight-driven method discovered by scientists from Swansea University and the University of Cambridge, can be utilized to convert plastic waste into hydrogen and useful chemicals

Led by Moritz Kuehnel of Swansea University and Erwin Reisner of the University of Cambridge, the process utilises cadmium sulphide quantum dots as photocatalysts to break down plastics. It involves dropping the photocatalyst onto plastic and immersing it in an alkaline solution, where sunlight reduces water to hydrogen and the plastic oxidizes into small organic molecules.

Remarkably, the method works even with contaminated plastics, making it versatile for real-world waste.

The team successfully converted a plastic bottle into hydrogen with efficiency comparable to pure polymers, showcasing the environmental and economic potential of the process. However,

Materials News 6 APRIL 2024
NTU's pilot plant is turning waste plastics into hydrogen and carbon nanotube

further research is needed to make the technology economically viable. Kuehnel envisions scaling up the process and applying it to other types of waste, potentially serving as a household waste treatment solution, providing hydrogen for heating or fuel.

In 2020, the researchers initiated a project to use hazardous medical wastes for converting into hydrogen fuel. The National Health Service (NHS) was reported to have already spent £700 million annually disposing of medical waste, especially with the surge caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, including masks and protective equipment.

The Welsh government has funded the project with £47,000, which involves collaboration with epidemiology experts from India’s King Institute of Preventive Medicine & Research and Thiruvalluvar University . They are examining the photocatalysts’ antiviral activity against various pathogens, including the SARS virus. Partners in the project also include the nanomaterials group at Indian Institute of Technology Mandi.

The simplicity and low cost of photoreforming augur well for its viable implementation in countries lacking an established recycling system.

A smokescreen for “real” solutions to plastic wastes?

As developments in WtH forge ahead and its adoption gains momentum, the question looms: is it truly a holy grail solution that a world drowning in plastic waste and in pursuit of sustainable energy sources is seeking?

US-based Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) cautions against using WtH as it essentially equates to yet another method of burning plastic, akin to burning fossil fuels.

According to GAIA's advocacy brief titled "Hydrogen made from waste – is it green or is it red?”, hydrogen derived from WtH processes involving plastics only perpetuates reliance on fossil fuels.

The organisation highlights that a significant portion of the energy content in municipal solid waste (MSW) consists of petroleum-based plastic waste. Moreover, the steam reforming process during conversion releases substantial amounts of CO2, contributing to its high GHG footprint.

GAIA went on to say that the carbon-intensive nature of the process involves multiple steps, including pyrolysis and catalytic steam reforming, both of which demand significant energy inputs. These hightemperature thermal processes, predominantly powered by fossil fuels, incur substantial energy consumption throughout pre-treatment, processing, and post-processing stages. Consequently, energy efficiency remains notably low, with a significant portion of energy lost during various conversion steps, from pyrolysis to compression and transportation of hydrogen.

Moreover, GAIA asserts that prevailing plasticto-fuel technologies exhibit poor material efficiency, estimating yield rates ranging from 4-16.6%, leaving a significant portion of material wasted in the process.

In essence, GAIA contends that existing technologies fail to achieve a net-positive energy balance and sees no foreseeable improvements.

The group advocates for more effective strategies, such as reducing plastic production and phasing out single-use plastics, as the most viable solutions to address the plastic waste crisis.

Gaia, in its


contends that current technologies lack a net-positive energy balance and believes that reducing plastic production and eliminating singleuse plastics are more effective strategies to tackle the plastic waste crisis
Materials News 7 APRIL 2024

China: breaking the high carbon emissions cycle with EVs

China leads in global carbon emissions reduction as it overcomes challenges in its pursuit of cleaner air and sustainability by transforming its car industry and increasing the adoption of new energy vehicles, says Angelica Buan in this report.

According to the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) findings, global carbon emissions have not yet achieved the COP28 target and Paris Agreement goals, such as limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Despite growing investments in and adoption of clean energy technologies and services, carbon emissions growth has slowed.

Investments in clean energy technologies rose by almost 50% to reach US$1.8 trillion between 2019-2023, as reported in the IEA’s Clean Energy Market Monitor report from March 2024.

Total capacity deployment for solar and photovoltaic (PV) technologies also saw a significant increase in 2023, notably, electric vehicle (EV) sales surged by 35%, reaching 14 million cars.

Reports have highlighted a 35% surge in electric vehicle sales, indicating a prevailing sentiment toward reducing emissions within the transport sector

As a result, EVs accounted for one in every five vehicles sold globally in 2023. The IEA finds that most of this deployment has taken place in China and developed economies. These countries were responsible for 90% of the new solar and wind power capacity additions and 95% of global EV sales.

China's emissions challenge

China's carbon emissions have soared in tandem with its economic expansion, fuelled primarily by its heavy reliance on coal for energy generation and industrial production. The nation's emissions have made significant contributions to global greenhouse (GHG) gas levels,

exacerbating the climate crisis and posing serious environmental and public health risks domestically.

China contributes to over a quarter of global carbon emissions, predominantly relying on coal for electricity generation, with renewables making up less than 30% of its energy mix

According to Climate Watch, China is a major carbon emissions emitter, accounting for a total share of 25.88%. Its use of coal still dominates electricity generation at 64.3%, with renewables only accounting for 27.7% share in electricity generation, thus keeping its carbon emissions high.

Despite making strides in renewable energy deployment, particularly in wind and solar power, China's carbon emissions remain stubbornly high. The transportation sector, in particular, has emerged as a major contributor to the nation's carbon footprint, propelled by the rapid growth of vehicle ownership and urbanisation. Addressing this challenge requires innovative solutions that not only reduce emissions but also promote sustainable economic development.

Nonetheless, China has made commitments to peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. According to United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) data, China takes to lowering its CO2 emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by over 65% from the 2005 level.

Among China’s measures towards the net-zero direction is an increased focus on large-scale new energy development. Development of green and low carbon industries such as new energy vehicles (NEVs) is taking centre stage.

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Country FoCus

Enabling change on a policy level

China has positioned itself as a global leader in the production and deployment of EVs, and has in recent years, heavily invested in charging infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of EVs.

China has emerged as a global leader in EV production and deployment, heavily investing in charging infrastructure to support the growing number of EVs

Furthermore, China is ramping up efforts to improve its transportation network, underscored by the implementation of multi-modal options and an increase in the use of railways and waterways. These efforts aim to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Such steps will focus on promoting NEVs and vessels, advancing intelligent transportation systems, electrifying railways, constructing hydrogen filling stations, and normalizing the use of shore-end cables at ports.

Additionally, China focuses on expediting the development of a convenient and efficient battery charging and swapping network. Energy efficiency standards and labelling for vehicles and vessels will be upgraded, while older, highemission vehicles and vessels will be gradually phased out.

Driving sustainable mobility with new energy vehicles

NEVs encompass a range of electric and hybrid vehicles that utilise alternative energy sources, such as electricity, hydrogen, and biofuels, to power their propulsion systems. These vehicles offer a cleaner and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

According to UNCC data, China’s push for NEV industry development has been bolstered by issuing parallel management measures for average fuel consumption and NEV points of passenger vehicle enterprises, as well as establishing a mechanism wherein traditional fuel vehicle manufacturers repay NEV manufacturers.

Undoubtedly, the NEV industry has transitioned from its introductory phase to a period of growth, ranking first in the world in both production and sales. In 2019, there were 3.81 million NEVs in China, marking a 46% increase over the previous year. Additionally, guidance has been provided to allay the automotive industry improve energysaving technology.

Putting NEV solutions in action

China's approach to promoting NEVs is multifaceted, and according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), China has demonstrated its commitment to NEVs by setting a goal that by 2035, all new vehicles sold in China must be powered by new-energy. It has been specified that half of these vehicles sold must be electric, fuel cell, or plugin hybrid, with the remaining 50% comprising hybrid vehicles.

Among the cornerstone measures driving NEV uptake are regulatory and subsidy measures. Since 2012, China has been actively fostering energy conservation through initiatives like establishing inter-ministerial coordination, implementing supportive policies at both national and local levels, and consistently enhancing fiscal and tax incentives for NEVs.

In a recent development, China has rolled out a revamped taxation policy to drive the adoption of NEVs. Replacing the previous tax exemption, this new scheme offers NEV buyers a tax break of up to RMB30,000 (US$4,230) per vehicle for two years, from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2025.

For purchases made between 1 January 2026 and 31 December 2027, buyers will only pay half of the standard purchase tax, capped at RMB15,000 per vehicle. This initiative seeks to accelerate the shift towards cleaner transportation and invigorate the EV sector in China.

A favourable market for major carmakers

To-date, the uptake of NEVs is expected to increase due to incentivisation, benefitting both consumers and manufacturers and making EVs more affordable and attractive to buyers.

The numbers speak for themselves. In 2024, total sales of NEVs are projected to reach 11.5 million units, marking a 20% year-on-year increase, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

BYD, a Shenzhen-headquartered manufacturer of new energy vehicles and power batteries, highlighted the increasing adoption of NEVs as it ended 2023 with record sales, surpassing the 3 million annual sales targets. According to data, December sales reached 341,043 units, marking a 45% increase, a significant 61.9% increase from the previous year. Furthermore, BYD experienced remarkable growth in exports and globalisation efforts.

In November last year, BYD rolled out its 6 millionth NEV from the production line at the Zhengzhou factory, within a mere three months from the 5 millionth.

The milestone vehicle, named BAO 5, is a super hybrid SUV under BYD's Fangchengbao sub-brand. BYD's varied brand portfolio, comprising Dynasty, Ocean series, Denza, and Yangwang, has also favourably cornered the market.

Since 2010, BYD has undergone global expansion, introducing electric public transport solutions in more than 400 cities across 70 countries. It has also penetrated 58 countries and regions, with cumulative passenger vehicle sales surpassing 200,000 units.

9 APRIL 2024
Country Fo C us

Similarly, Li Auto Inc, a notable contender in China's NEV market, posted a noteworthy surge in deliveries for March 2024, with 28,984 vehicles dispatched, representing a 39% year-over-year growth. As a result, the company's first-quarter deliveries reached 80,400, marking a 52% increase compared to the previous year.

By the end of March 2024, the Beijing-headquartered automaker has achieved cumulative deliveries of 713,764 vehicles, proudly asserting its status as the first emerging new energy automaker in China to surpass 700,000 cumulative deliveries. Currently, the company has 474 retail stores in 142 cities, complemented by 356 servicing centres and authorised body and paint shops in 209 cities. Moreover, there are 357 supercharging stations equipped with 1,544 charging stalls operational nationwide.

Along the same vein, SAIC Motors, another prominent player in China’s thriving NEV market, announced an increase in new NEV retail sales to 155,000, indicating a significant 56% year-on-year increase, while overseas market retail sales climbed to 165,000, reflecting an 19% year-on-year growth. SAIC Motor's proprietary brands accounted for over 55% of the total sales volume.

During the period from January to February, SAIC Motor noted growth in NEV sales, with wholesale sales reaching 125,000 and retail sales hitting 155,000, marking a nearly 60% increase year-on-year. Its electric SUV, IM LS6, achieved cumulative sales of 6,171 units this year.

Challenges not dimming future prospects

Where does China stand regarding its zero-carbon emissions goal? According to recent research from Greenpeace East Asia, China is nearly there. The study calculated emissions pathways for China’s car industry, indicating that it is on track to peak carbon emissions in 2027. However, emissions are expected to plateau afterward, with only a marginal decrease of around 1% per year for three years and a cumulative decrease of only 11% by 2035. This trajectory overshoots the realistic pathway for the industry to achieve Net Zero by 2060.

In the car industry, current policies indicate a projected peak in emissions by 2027, with the industry emitting 1.75 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Greenpeace East Asia suggests that to achieve net zero emissions by 2060, the industry must reduce emissions by approximately 3% annually from the peak. However, by 2035, emissions must decrease by at least 20% from the peak. Current projections, unfortunately, only show an 11% decrease by then, necessitating drastic measures for later years.

Achieving a 20% decrease by 2035 requires that zeroemissions vehicles make up 63% of total car sales by 2030 and 87% by 2035.

To achieve a 20% decrease by 2035, zeroemissions vehicles need to comprise 63% of total car sales by 2030 and 87% by 2035, according to Greenpeace East Asia

It is evident that although China's initiatives to promote NEVs have shown promising outcomes, substantial challenges persist on the journey toward widespread adoption and sustainability. Concerns such as limited range, constraints in charging infrastructure, and the environmental impact of battery production remain significant obstacles to the mass adoption of EVs. Nevertheless, efforts to tackle these challenges persist.

Furthermore, realising a comprehensive shift towards sustainable mobility necessitates addressing systemic issues, particularly reducing reliance on coal in the energy mix, and strengthening infrastructure for NEVs.

Amidst these challenges, China's persistence in combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions through the promotion of NEVs puts it on the right path towards carbon neutrality. This emphasises the country’s vital role in leading the world towards achieving its netzero goals as soon as possible.

10 APRIL 2024 Country Fo C us
BYD unveiled its six millionth NEV, named BAO 5, a super hybrid SUV, at its Zhengzhou factory SAIC’s EV sales, including its SUV IM LS6, have been on the rise.


Consumers cancelling culture of unsustainability

The sustainability agenda has evolved significantly, becoming an integral aspect of the ethos embraced by the environmentally conscious younger generation who are driving the trends in sustainable packaging, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Driving sustainable packaging trends

Decarbonisation transcends boundaries of geography, gender, and age, especially in today's fiercely competitive market, where companies vie for a larger share of the consumer pie, sustainability is increasingly seen through the eyes of young consumers. Understanding the buying patterns of this demographic is crucial for producers aiming to thrive in the contemporary market landscape. Young consumers, known for their tech-savviness, eco-consciousness, and quest for authenticity, possess distinct purchasing habits.

Based on estimates depicted on Credit Suisse ’s ESG report, “Treeprint: when emissions turn personal”, young consumers aged between 16-40 years represent 54% of the world’s population; and their share in total global consumer spending is set to rise from 48% in 2020 to 69% by 2040.

One thing is certain: this segment is drawn to brands that align with their values, prioritise meaningful experiences over mere materialism, and exhibit a strong commitment to sustainability. Thus, for brands to get a big share of the market, they must connect with young consumers.

Less carbon footprint through lifestyle choices

For many young consumers, lifestyle choices mirror commitment to sustainability. And the remarkable consumer power held by this demographic cannot be overlooked.

A 2022 report by Credit Suisse titled, "The Young Consumer and a Path to Sustainability", which covered ten countries, including five developed nations (US, UK, Germany, France, and Switzerland), and five in the developing world (China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa), revealed eye-opening insights. Together, these countries represent nearly 60% of global GDP. It is no surprise that sustainable packaging holds strong appeal for young consumers, given their increasing concern for environmental issues and preference for eco-friendly options.

Brands that offer sustainable packaging not only align with the values of young consumers but also

bolster their brand image, fostering loyalty and long-term engagement.

Plastic packaging shift to sustainability

The packaging industry's shift towards sustainability, especially through the use of recyclable plastics and other eco-friendly materials, is not only changing the way products are packaged but also reshaping consumer preferences worldwide.

According to a 2020 McKinsey Sustainability in Packaging report, over half of US consumers expressed concerns about the environmental impact of packaging, encompassing various issues beyond just marine litter.

Furthermore, consumers are willing to pay extra for eco-friendly products, more sustainably packaged options, given they are accessible and well-labelled. Moving forward, they express nearly equal interest in recyclable and recycled plastic packaging, along with fibre-based alternatives, as viable solutions.

These findings are echoed in Trivium Packaging 's 2023 Buying Green Report, which bared a notable rise in demand for sustainable packaging, signalling a growing trend among environmentallyconscious consumers.

It found that despite inflation-driven price hikes, consumers show willingness to invest more in sustainable packaging. Overall, 82% of respondents are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, a four-point increase from 2022 and eight points since 2021. Notably, 90% of younger consumers aged 18-24 showed a strong inclination towards investing in sustainable packaging options.

Regarding sustainable packaging preferences, 71% of consumers are found to choose products based on packaging sustainability. Interest in sustainable packaging has risen since 2022, especially among younger demographics and high-income earners. However, 59% of consumers look for recycling and sustainability information on labels, while 46% find unclear labeling to be a significant purchasing barrier.

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Age matters: in sustainable packaging

The transition towards sustainable packaging is resonating with consumers across all age groups, from millennials to baby boomers, indicating a pervasive and lasting trend.

The 2024 Sustainability and Convenience in Packaging Survey, conducted for Austrian plastics packaging provider Alpla in partnership with US consumer survey firm Pollfish touched on the issue of age in sustainable preferences - specifically, whether a generational gap exists in the adoption of sustainable and eco-friendly packaging.

The results of the survey showed that respondents' perspectives on sustainability efforts differ among age groups. However, while older individuals typically prioritise convenience over sustainability to a greater extent, younger consumers showed a stronger preference for sustainable options, with 54% of those aged 18-34 frequently choosing sustainably packaged products.

Similarly, younger consumers are inclined to travel extensively and pay extra for eco-friendly packaging, as indicated by the report. Furthermore, they are significantly influenced by the sustainable shopping habits of their peers, suggesting a potential ripple effect of such behaviour within this demographic.

Recyclable PE packaging

With an eye towards helping converters create packaging that can be more easily mechanically recycled than conventional polyolefin shrink film (POF) solutions, China’s Shantou Mingca Packaging Co and ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Research & Development Co ( ExxonMobil ) have developed an innovative double bubble polyethylene-based shrink film (PEF) solution.

Mingca Packaging and ExxonMobil have introduced a double bubble PE-based shrink film solution

The so-called next generation of POF has been created using ultra-low density Exceed XP performance PE. The PEF can be used to package products in a variety of shapes, such as electronics, household and personal care products, medicines, food, books and magazines, plastic utensils, and toys.

The firms say the recyclability of the film structure has been third party validated and certified by TÜV Rheinland

PEF shrink film can help provide exceptional “shelf appeal” to products, making them look attractive to consumers. In addition, the PEF solution can provide a snug-fit with small and soft corners, further increasing appearance aesthetics.

It can shrink more than 70% upon heating and can help enable shrink performance at lower temperatures.

Thanks also to its low-temperature shrinkage capability, the new PEF solution can offer potential cost savings due to the shrink tunnel consuming less energy than what is needed with conventional POF solutions. Similar to POF, the new PEF shrink film can be produced using double bubble technology. Converters can typically switch from their current POF formulation to the next generation conveniently with only a few adjustments to their existing POF production line, while brand owners can adopt the new solution without upgrades or changes to their packaging lines, add the firms.

Building up the brands that use ocean-bound plastics

Ocean-bound plastics present a promising solution to the challenge of sustainable packaging. An initiative designed to reduce the amount of plastic that enters the oceans by collecting PET bottles and turning them to a high quality, Prevented Ocean Plastic is championing the people on the frontlines of the recycling revolution and announced there are now 500 products packaged in its traceable and certified recycled plastic, made from discarded plastic collected from coastal areas.

Prevented Ocean Plastic is working with brands globally to keep plastics out of oceans. The firm says almost 500 products have now been packaged in its traceable and certified recycled plastic

12 APRIL 2024

Brands and retailers making a better plastic choice include Lidl , Louis Vuitton , Hana Sushi , Patagonia , Treaclemoon , Sainsbury ’s, Waitrose and Booths Supermarket as key partners, along with major manufacturing partners such as Groupe Guillin , Spectra Packaging , and Berry Global for offerings across multiple product categories, including fish, poultry, soft fruits, pet food, personal care, and home cleaning. Cosmetics retailer Lush is also a partner and says that it has started transitioning to using the fully traceable material in its clear PET bottles.

Prevented Ocean Plastic is also conducting research into bottle collector demographics, starting in Ecuador, to further understand their priorities, needs and how to support them. Plus, working together with Prevented Ocean Plastic, recyclers around the world, manufacturers, businesses and brands have helped prevent over 2.5 billion bottles from reaching the oceans, according to the organisation.

Henkel says it has increased the share of recycled plastic in its consumer goods packaging to 19% worldwide. Plastic makes up 45% of its packaging, followed by paper with 40%.

Henkel aims to reduce the amount of virgin plastics in its consumer products by 50% by 2025

Meanwhile, multinational firm Henkel has increased the share of recycled plastic in its consumer goods packaging to 19% worldwide. A prominent example is doubling the recycled content level to 50% for the entire universal liquid detergents portfolio in Europe, such as Persil.

In alignment with this commitment to sustainability, Mitsu Chem Plast , India-headquartered manufacturer of plastic blow-moulded and injectionmoulded products, has rolled out MiEcoPET.


a sustainable packaging solution MiEcoPET, purported to use up to 50% less materials for HDPE packaging

According to Mitsu, this groundbreaking product utilises 30-50% less raw material than traditional HDPE containers and incorporates 30-60% recycled PET material.

The MiEcoPET range includes containers of various sizes, including the Pet-in-Box concept, catering to diverse packaging requirements across industries such as lube oil, edible oil, beverages, food, and FMCG (fast moving consumer goods).

Capping opportunities of recycled plastics

Treading in the direction of sustainable stewardship, US materials firm Avient Corporation has expanded its Gravi-Tech REC Recycled Formulations portfolio with a new grade containing up to 60% ocean-bound plastic waste, alongside recycled fillers, achieving a total recycled content of up to 98%.

Avient and Plastic Bank are collaborating on ocean-bound plastic use for luxury caps and closures

The firm says the materials offer a sustainable alternative to metals commonly used in luxury packaging caps and closures, with improved design flexibility and processing efficiency.

The Europe-made new grade, Gravi-Tech REC GT5200-5089 C I natural, is based on Social Plastic polymer resin from Plastic Bank , a Canada-based for-profit recycling enterprise, supporting a >70% reduction in Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) compared to virgin material. These formulations, according to the company, offer visual surface effects and can be applied in luxury packaging applications such as cosmetic caps, perfume caps, and spirit bottle caps, providing an alternative to metal inserts and enabling streamlined manufacturing processes.

Meanwhile, two key players have joined forces to design a new can cap using recycled material. TotalEnergies and Bericap are launching a cap for 20-l lubricant packaging incorporating 50% postconsumer recycled plastic (PCR), in compliance with DIN 60 standards for lubricants.

13 APRIL 2024
has unveiled


TotalEnergies Lubrifiants' lubricant cans made in France and Belgium will be fitted with new caps made from the PCR material, with the raw material that comes from TotalEnergies' own circular polymer range.

TotalEnergies Lubrifiants and Bericap have joined forces to launch a new cap for lubricant cans made from recycled plastic

Elsewhere, South Korea’s CJ Biomaterials has unveiled a fully biodegradable PHA bottle cap developed by US-based Beyond Plastic , in what it claims as the “world’s first completely biodegradable” plastic bottle cap. CJ Biomaterials’ PHACT, a contraction of ‘PHA’ and ‘Act’, was launched in 2022 and was then the only amorphous PHA on the market. It is a softer, more rubbery version of PHA that offers different performance characteristics than the crystalline or semi-crystalline forms that currently dominate the PHA market.

CJ Biomaterials has introduced what it says is a fully biodegradable PHA bottle cap

The raw materials

for Phact are sugars

sourced from plants like sugar cane, tapioca, corn and cellulosic biomass. CJ Bio can increase PHA content in microorganisms from about 5% default accumulation up to 85% through fermentation via engineered microbial strains. The company employs advanced downstream technology for the extraction of PHA components and for the manufacture of specific products.

Non-plastics as packaging elements

Beyond plastics, sustainable packaging encompasses a spectrum of eco-friendly materials, including cardboard, paper, glass, and compostable bioplastics compromising the integrity of the packaging or the quality of the product they contain.

In line with this, WestRock , an American corrugated packaging company, serves this segment with its PETCollar range as an alternative for PET bottle packaging. PETCollar, a fibre-based multipack clip solution, replaces hard-to-recycle plastic rings and shrink film with paperboard. It comes in various sizes and designs adaptable to different bottle shapes and configurations.

WestRock is partnering with Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages, the first bottler to implement its PETCollar Shield Plus, which is a paperboard alternative to plastic rings

Similarly, Smurfit Kappa , a corrugated packaging company and paper-based packaging company based in Dublin, Ireland, has crafted a tailored TopClip system for BeerSelect , enabling Belgium's pioneering brewery to embrace this innovative packaging solution.

TopClip, a 100% paper-based alternative to shrink wrap, is purpose-built for bundling multi-packs of beverages in a sustainable manner. Amidst rapid growth and a strong commitment to sustainable packaging, BeerSelect sought an end-to-end solution that matched its environmental goals.

Thus, the switch from traditional packaging to sustainable packaging presents significant opportunities for innovation and differentiation within the industry.

14 APRIL 2024
Smurfit Kappa has created a bespoke TopClip system for mid-sized breweries

Cast film systems for the Asian market

In recent months, Austrian extrusion machinery supplier SML says its development efforts have focused on increasing capacity, productivity and efficiency as well as promoting recyclability in the sense of a circular economy.

As such, at Chinaplas 2024, SML will focus on its new type of multi-functional cast film system for the efficient production of easy-to-recycle mono-material film and its advanced Triplex coating and laminating line for aseptic cardboard packaging.

Beside standard products, such as CPP, CPE, Cast-PET and barrier films, SML's new cast film line fitted with its further-developed MDO unit is especially designed to process mono-oriented films for easy recycling.

SML will showcase its latest multi-functional cast film system for the production of easy-to-recycle mono-material film. The line is fitted with a further-developed MDO unit to process mono-oriented films for easy recycling

- Wide functional range: standard food and non-food packaging to easy-to-recycle stand-up pouches

- Advanced MDO unit – improved film properties

- Simple maintenance

Meanwhile, SML says its Triplex coating and laminating lines represent a new approach in the manufacturing of liquid packaging board e.g. for dairy products or fruit juices. It is designed to process thin paper and rigid paperboard at an equally high quality.

- Optimised product change overs - low waste

- Best cost-performance ratio

- Comfortable operation and good accessibility

The company will display its machinery at Stand No. 2.1C50.

Another showcase is the Triplex coating and laminating line for aseptic cardboard packaging

Machinery news

Kautex back to business under Jwell Machinery

Following the acquisition by China’s Jwell Machinery Co. in January 2024, German extrusion blow moulding systems supplier Kautex Maschinenbau System says it is back to its normal operative business.

Haichao He, President of Jwell, says that Kautex has a strong image and is well known in the blow molding market. “With a well-developed strategy and wellskilled employees, Kautex continues building a brand reputation as a premium machinery solution provider in the blow moulding machinery world. We continue to pursue this strategy consistently and enrich it with elements of the Jwell strategy,” he added.

Under Jwell Machinery, Kautex says it is out of the doldrums and sales are back on track. Jwell is an extruder manufacturer in China, specialising in extrusion equipment for various industries

Kautex adds that three blow moulding machines have been shipped out from its production facility in Bonn to customers so far after the successful factory acceptance test in Bonn. The next three machines will be ready in the upcoming months. Not only for machine delivery, the sales and after-sales activities have been a focus of the management team during these times.

The sales business is getting back on track again. The end-to-end supply chain management is working also very well, claims the firm.

Meanwhile, after securing the brand, patents, and most relevant assets of the Kautex Group, Jwell has established a new company Foshan Kautex Machinery Manufacturing, in Shunde, Foshan City, Guangdong Province. The finalisation of the facility and the new company is still ongoing.

Kautex Maschinenbau in Bonn, together with the Jwell team, is managing the after-sales requirements of the current customers from the Asian region.

15 APRIL 2024

CHINAPLAS 2024: On a roll with cutting edge technologies, solutions

As the global economy emerges from the shadow of the pandemic, China has swiftly rebound, reaffirming its role as the primary engine of worldwide economic growth.

China represents over 30% of global economic growth and 14% of the world’s total export volume. In this favourable context, CHINAPLAS 2024, the world’s leading plastics and rubber trade fair, is poised for remarkable growth in both scale and international participation.

Taking place at the National Exhibition and Convention Centre (NECC) in Hongqiao, Shanghai, China, from 23-26 April 2024, the event will feature over 4,420 international exhibitors from 40 countries and regions, including nine country/region pavilions representing Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, UK, US, and Taiwan.

Visitors can anticipate a wide range of solutions covering circular economy initiatives, digitalisation, innovative materials, and high-end technologies from China.

The show, poised to showcase on a sprawling exhibition area of 380,000 sq m at NECC, boasts renowned exhibitors such as BASF, DuPont, Covestro, LG Chem, Evonik, Mitsubishi Chemical, Polyplastics, Lyondellbasell, Borouge, Clariant, Sinopec, Wanhua Chemical, PetroChina, Sinochem Plastics, Kingfa, Wote, Arburg, Brueckner, Engel, Chen Hsong, Haitian International, Yizumi, Jwell, Borch, Shaanxi Beiren, Liansu, Tederic, and many others.

This year, over 800 companies, including 250 recognised as "Little Giants," are highlighted as “Professionalisation, Refinement, Specialisation, and Innovation (PRSI)” enterprises. These standout firms in the plastics and rubber industries display advanced machinery and innovative material solutions, promoting "High-end Technologies from China" globally.

As always, CHINAPLAS 2024 is highly anticipated by global buyers eager to capitalise on emerging opportunities. The event is expected to attract over 360 delegation groups, including more than 70 groups from overseas countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Poland, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam. With projections of over 270,000 visitors, including more than 50,000 international attendees.

Ada Leung, General Manager of Sales and Marketing of organising firm Adsale Exhibition Services, affirms, “As the No.1 plastics and rubber industry exhibition in Asia, CHINAPLAS 2024 will spare no efforts to welcome exhibitors and visitors from across the globe. The show is set to redefine industry standards and foster international collaboration within the vibrant plastics and rubber sectors.”

CHINAPLAS 2024 is presenting 130 groundbreaking technologies on its diverse and dynamic platform within

the plastics and rubber industries, captivating the interest of industry professionals and enthusiasts alike. Some of these innovations will mark their world debut, including the MHF-Maplan FIFO Horizontal injection machine, ASB double-layer injection blow moulding machine, and cap compression moulding machine.

World trends and plastics and rubber summit: celebrating China’s economic rebound

China's economy is thriving, boasting advancements across multiple sectors. In 2023, the production volume of plastic products rebounded by 3% to 74.89 million tonnes compared to 2022, propelled by technological progress and economic development. Export value surpassed US$100 billion and is projected to grow further in 2024.

To promote sustainable development in plastics and rubber industries, the inaugural World Trends and Plastics and Rubber Technology Summit will coincide with the exhibition.

The three-day international summit will focus on new energy vehicles (NEVs), photovoltaic, wind power, lithiumion, hydrogen energy, energy storage, packaging, electronics, electrical, and other emerging industries, exploring trending topics such as "The Global Plastics & Rubber Industries: Megatrends, Opportunities & Challenges," "Digitalisation for Industrial Transformation and Sustainability," "Innovative Technology for Electric Vehicles," and "Innovative Technology for Green Energy."

Industry representatives and experts worldwide from Brazil, China, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, the US, and more will share their experiences, technological solutions, as well as opportunities and challenges in key global and emerging markets. The summit will also promote technological leadership, industry upgrading, and commitment to sustainable development in the plastics and rubber industries.

Attendees will gain valuable insights into industry trends and innovations through sessions led by professional associations and leading suppliers, thus fostering networking and business opportunities.

Product Innovation Gallery: Immersing in Product Innovations

Are you encountering difficulties in new product development or material sourcing? Do you want to quickly understand the innovative manufacturing technology behind the product? The Product Innovation Gallery is the spring of inspiration.

Imagine giant exhibit walls with the theme "From Products to Technology, From Technology to Products," strategically placed in high-traffic locations across halls

16 APRIL 2024 AdvertoriAl

2.1, 4.1, 5.1, 8.1, 1.2, 6.2, and 7.2, inviting visitors to embark on a journey of wonder. More than 70 dynamic enterprises showcase over 100 pieces of their distinctive products and semi-finished products, unveiling the groundbreaking plastics technology that powers them. Buyers will be inspired to optimise and iterate their own products and locate suitable suppliers by uncovering the secrets and suppliers that drive these remarkable innovations.

Tech Talk: Showcasing diversified and advanced technologies

With a successful track record spanning six sessions, Tech Talk, another concurrent event, stands as the chosen platform for technology releases. To be held from 23-24 April at booth 2.2G106, it will unveil over 150 innovative technologies, solidifying its position as CHINAPLAS's foremost technology event. The organiser will select the latest, hottest, and most breakthrough over 30 advanced technologies from numerous innovative ones, releasing them in open forums. This provides professional buyers with an excellent platform to quickly grasp industry trends.

Tech Talk will centre around five main themes: "Advanced Packaging Solutions," "Eco-friendly Solutions," "Automotive Plastic Solutions," "3D Printing," and "2024 New Materials."

Top companies from the plastics and rubber industries will participate, seizing the opportunity to engage and interact with the audience. Simon-ion will demonstrate innovative applications of intelligent static control solutions in packaging and film. Eastman Chemical will introduce its high-performance copolyester plastics. Kraiburg TPE will focus on TPE innovations and solutions in the automotive industry. Stratasys will highlight the latest innovations in plastic 3D printing, including materials and equipment. SI Group Fine Chemicals will present innovative additive solutions for highperformance antioxidant and recycling applications.

Applications in Focus: exploring high-performance applications

Applications in Focus will once again bring together a diverse array of brands, universities, and research centres, showcasing cutting-edge applications across various industries. With a focus on high performance, the event will cover over 60 hot topics, including photoelectric cables, circular economy, low-carbon energy, medical sterilisation packaging, integrated biomedical engineering, readymeal packaging, green packaging, automobile safety, and environmental protection.

Featuring ten thematic seminars in total, this event provides invaluable insights into the experiences and technological prospects of various application industries. Here, highlighted are a few of these enlightening seminars. CP Business Services (Yantai) Co will organise the “New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Forum: Prioritising Safety, Battery Life, and Material Selection,” where insights into the current landscape and future trends of the new energy vehicle industry will be shared.

The forum on “New Trends and Applications of Catering Packaging Consumption,” hosted by China Catering Brand Alliance, will delve deeper into the opportunities in packaging materials for catering.

The National Engineering Research Centre of Novel Equipment for Polymer Processing, in collaboration with Guangzhou Huaxinke Intelligent Manufacturing Technology Co, Jiangsu Photovoltaic Industry Association, and China Plastic Film Web, will hold the “Embracing a New Era of Energy: Toward a Zero-Carbon Future – Photovoltaic POE Technology Forum,” further exploring challenges and new opportunities in the field.

Anchoring towards smart and green directions by embracing “New Productive Forces” "New productive forces" encompass both intelligent and green aspects. CHINAPLAS 2024 will feature the "Injection Moulding Machinery & Smart Manufacturing Tech Zone," "Auxiliary & Testing Equipment Zone," and "3D Tech Zone."

These areas will comprehensively showcase AI-enabled plastic moulding, machine vision, AI-based visible light sorting machines, robotics and automation, high-speed and stable mechanical arms, digital platforms, solutions achieving fully automated interconnection of multiple production processes, digital twinning, and other "digitalisation and smart manufacturing" technologies. These demonstrations vividly illustrate how digitalisation enhances the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing processes.

In specialised areas dedicated to topics related to circular economy and sustainability, such as the "Recycled Plastics Zone," "Bioplastics Zone," and "Recycling Tech Zone," the latest green plastic materials and processing technologies will be showcased. These include post-consumer recycled polycarbonate, sustainable TPE, CO2-based multifunctional plastics, bio-based plastics, biodegradable plastics, bottle sorting machines, chemical recycling technologies, innovative materials for energy storage and charging, and many more. These exhibits will shine with their innovative solutions and contributions to sustainability.

Centred around three main themes: "Plastic Recycling & Fashion Trends," "Recycling & New Plastics Economy," and "Industrial Linkage and Low Carbon in All Fields," the organisers will hold the "Plastics Recycling & Circular Economy Conference and Showcase" concurrently.

Senior government officials and leading industry organisations, brands, materials, and machinery suppliers will be invited from around the world to participate in the conference and share their insights on hot topics in the circular economy, covering international trends and policies of plastics recycling, leading regions' experiences in recycling and sorting, as well as innovative achievements of recycling and utilisation.

The online pre-registration of CHINAPLAS 2024 has started. All visitors are required to pre-register and reserve the entry dates in advance for admission of the show. Pre-register now at - https://www.chinaplasonline. com/CPS24/preregistrationlanding/eng for an admission ticket at RMB50 or US$7.5. Pre-registered visitors shall receive their Visitor eBadges (for local visitors) or eConfirmation Letters (for overseas visitors). Admission tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.


Injection Moulding Asia


Coke launches 100% rPET bottles in Hong Kong/Indonesia Coca-Cola recently debuted its 500 ml brands in 100% rPET (recycled plastic) bottles, said to be the first-ever Coca-Cola packaging made from 100% rPET in Hong Kong.

The new packaging features “I’m a 100% rPET bottle” and “Recycle Me Again” messages to build recycling awareness and encourage action among consumers.

In 2020, Sprite made a bold transition to transparent bottles to enhance bottle recyclability. The effort continues with the recent adoption of transparent bottles by Schweppes sparkling water. Furthermore, to help reduce plastic use, Bonaqua has been placing nearly 170 Water Stations across the city and advocating “bring your own bottle”.

Coca-Cola has launched 100% rPET bottles in Hong Kong

In partnership with industry associations and other organisations, including Drink Without Waste and industry peers, the Coca-Cola system in Hong Kong is investing HK$3 million in 2024 to support a new neighbourhood collection scheme by mobilising participating housing estates, their cleaners and the resident households to build a recycling habit and mechanism. Each resident in Hong Kong is invited to separate and recycle plastic bottles to help build a plastic bottle “recycling loop”!

Hunter Jin, CEO, Swire Coca-Cola SEAHKT Operations (Southeast Asia, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan markets), also highlighted a significant investment the firm has been making in New Life Plastics , Hong Kong’s first foodgrade-ready plastic recycling facility. “It will have sufficient capacity to recycle each PET bottle we sell by 2030 as part of our World Without Waste ambitions.”

This rollout further enhances the company’s commitment to a sustainable future in Hong Kong. The rPET journey commenced in 2019, when a variety of Coca-Cola brands started using rPET content in the production of bottles. Also since 2020, all locally produced bonaqua water bottles (2 l or below) use 100% rPET. Bonaqua sparkling water launched in recent months has also adopted this sustainable format.

Each Bonaqua 500 ml bottle weighs 11.8-52.8% lighter than a typical PET bottle in the market - helping to achieve 29% less overall CO2 emissions compared with other water brands, says Coke.

In 2021, Bonaqua launched its first label-less bottled water, further reducing packaging waste and improving recyclability through packaging design.

And in 2022, Coca-Cola Hong Kong reintroduced the Returnable Glass Bottles line encompassing key brands such as CocaCola, Coca-Cola No Sugar, Sprite, Fanta and Schweppes. Bonaqua followed with the launch of its first label-less bottled water for individual sale, making it available to a broader range of customers and last year, rolled out water in Returnable Glass Bottles, inviting like-minded hotel industry players to join the sustainability effort.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, recycler PT Amandina Bumi Nusantara has produced the rPET for Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and Sprite Waterlymon bottles on two recoSTAR PET 165 HC iV+ bottle-to-bottle recycling systems from Starlinger

In June 2023, Coca-Cola Indonesia , in partnership with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Indonesia (CCEP Indonesia) , launched the first bottles made from 100% rPET (excluding bottle caps and labels) for its most popular soft drink brands.

The rPET is supplied by one of Indonesia’s recycling pioneers, Amandina Bumi Nusantara. The company operates a plastics recycling plant on the outskirts of Jakarta with two Starlinger recoSTAR PET HC iV+ bottleto-bottle recycling systems and processes 3,000 tonnes of collected PET bottles every month. Two types of clear bottle-grade rPET pellets are produced - one for carbonated
1 APRIL 2024
Starlinger supplied the recycling machine for rPET bottles in Indonesia

Injection Moulding Asia

beverages and one for spring water. In addition, the company supplies hot-washed flakes in clear and lightblue colours.

Amandina Bumi Nusantara collaborates with Mahija Parahita Nusantara Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by CCEP Indonesia and Dynapack Asia . As in many other Asian countries, over 90% of plastic waste collection activities in Indonesia are carried out by waste pickers in the informal sector - called “recycling heroes” by Amandina and Mahija. The remaining percentage is managed through formalised systems such as waste banks and other organised collection efforts.

CCEP Indonesia aims to make 100% of its packaging recyclable and to ensure that at least 50% of the plastic bottles are made of rPET by 2025. The company’s targets for 2030 are to collect 100% of their plastic bottles to enter the recycling stream, and to eliminate virgin plastic in their plastic bottles.

Amandina Bumi Nusantara, which was established by CCEP Indonesia, one of the largest soft drink producers in Indonesia, and Dynapack Asia, one of Asia’s leading plastic packaging companies, as a facility for PET bottleto-bottle recycling in 2021, is also the first PET recycling company that has obtained the SNI Marking Product Certificate (SPPT) from the National Standardisation Agency (BSN) for implementing the Indonesian National Standard (SNI) 8424:2017.

Project Stop not stopping just yet: extended to East Java

Besides PET, other types of plastics such as PE bottles or PP cups are collected and recycled in Indonesia. The government has been working on developing strategies and roadmaps to address plastic waste and promote recycling practices. In 2019, it adopted a regulation aiming to reduce waste by 30% by 2029.

Also in Indonesia, Project Stop, co-founded by Austria’s Borealis and Systemiq , has already marked milestones and made impacts in the country. From the inception of Project Stop to the end of December 2023, around 400,000 individuals gained access to comprehensive waste services through the project. Many are now using formal waste collection services for the first time, which is an important step in improving community well-being and environmental sustainability.

Since its inception in 2017, it has worked hand-in-hand with its governmental and non-governmental partners, has created almost 300 full-time jobs across all Project Stop locations. These jobs vary from waste collection and material sorting to waste system management and administrative roles.

Furthermore, more than 60,000 tonnes of waste, including nearly 9,000 tonnes of plastic, have been successfully collected as of December 2023.

The project’s ‘system enabler’ approach entails building the waste management system together with governments at the local level over several years, then stepping back so that the local units of governance can fully operate their own systems.

In 2023, Project Stop handed over operations in its second and third cities – Pasuruan and Jembrana – after nearly four years operating on the ground in each location.

Now, Project Stop Banyuwangi Hijau, in the Banyuwangi Regency of East Java, is focusing on the full regency level and shifted into implementation mode by opening a large-scale materials recovery facility (MRF) and launching initial service rollouts. Only three months after its inauguration in September 2023, the facility is already providing access to waste services to more than 13,500 individuals in 12 villages.

The program has built upon a long-standing strategic partnership with the Banyuwangi government, a collaboration highlighted by the direct backing of Ipuk Fiestiandani, the Banyuwangi Regent. She has emphasised the ongoing global waste issue and stressed the imperative need for cooperation among stakeholders to prevent environmental waste leakage.

The success of Project Stop can be largely attributed to its collaborations and close relationships with various Indonesian government bodies, including the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs (CMMAI) , the National Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) and the Banyuwangi regency government.

Ultimately, the Project Stop partners are aiming to provide waste collection services to 2 million people, creating over 1,000 jobs and collecting 230,000 tonnes/year of waste, including 25,000 tonnes of plastic. 2 JUNE 2022 Recycling APRIL 2024
Project Stop has extended its recycling programme to East Java. It has to date collected 60,000 tonnes of waste, of which nearly 9,000 tonnes is plastic


Injection Moulding Asia

Recycling equipment from one-stop shop

At this year’s Chinaplas show, German machinery firm Coperion will present key technologies for processing plastics at Booth F 106 in Hall 2.1. The centrepiece of the exhibits will be the STS 75 Mc PLUS twin screw extruder with its increased specific torque of 13.6 Nm/cm³ which allows the STS extruder to achieve up to 20% more throughput with markedly higher product quality, says the firm.

Together, Coperion and Herbold Meckesheim offer operators broad expertise in technology and process solutions for plastics recycling. Since their merger, both companies have continued to develop and optimally attune their technologies.

At Chinaplas, Coperion and Herbold Meckesheim will display a virtual PET recycling installation. Visitors to the booth can peer inside key components of the recycling installation and see for themselves the process-technical details in each process step and the high efficiency of each component.

Other exhibits at Booth F106 in Hall 2.1 include the Coperion ZSK 26 Mc18 twin screw extruder with a C/S-LW-NT28 twin screw feeder from Colormax Systems, a Coperion K-Tron T35-QC quick change feeder shown with a 2415 vacuum receiver for refilling ingredients, and a K-ML-SFS-KT20 twin screw feeder. In addition, Coperion K-Tron will be introducing the ProRate PLUS line of gravimetric single and twin screw feeders to the Chinese market, showing a PLUS-S feeder with refill. A CVH 550 high pressure rotary valve for granulates will also be on display.

For the STS 75, Coperion has raised the specific torque of the STS twin screw extruder from 11.3 Nm/cm³ to 13.6 Nm/cm³. The compounder thus achieves improved product quality and at the same time up to 20% higher throughput in every application. Critical to this level of performance, along with process-technical modifications, is optimisation of the drive’s key components. The new STS 75 Mc PLUS extruder is equipped with a high-power motor and a gearbox designed specifically for the high torque. Proven high-performance materials for the screw shafts ensure full torque transmission from the gearbox to the screw elements.

The higher fill level in the process section is crucial to the improved compound quality that the STS 75 Mc PLUS achieves. It reduces both shear stress and melt temperature and improves mixing behaviour. The result is an extremely gentle product handling at high throughputs. The process section of the STS 75 Mc PLUS is equipped with heating cartridges that generate heat very energy-efficiently exactly where it is needed.

STS extruders combine the advantages of substantially standardised and thus more cost-effective machine construction incorporating Coperion’s technical expertise. In the continued development of the STS 75 Mc PLUS, Coperion has profited from the comprehensive experience gleaned from its high-end ZSK Mc18 extruders. The new STS 75 Mc PLUS’s throughput increase of up to 20% makes it a particularly economical solution. Material costs per kilo drop and return on investment is reached much more quickly.

Coperion and Herbold Meckesheim realise plants for a wide variety of plastics recycling applications, from mechanical processing – shredding, washing, separating, drying and agglomerating of plastics – to bulk material handling as well as feeding and extrusion all the way to compounding and pelletising, such plants cover the entire plastics recycling process chain.

As well, Coperion will demonstrate its expertise in all feeding tasks at this year’s Chinaplas with its high-accuracy Coperion K-Tron K2-ML-D5-T35 Quick Change feeder equipped with ActiFlow smart bulk solid activator and EPC (Electronic Pressure Compensation). The feeder is equipped with a 2415 vacuum receiver for refill. The T35/S60 quick change feeder (QC) on display is designed for applications requiring quick changeover of materials and convenience of fast cleaning. The QC feeder allows for fast removal of the entire feeding module with screws in place for replacement with a second unit. Twin and single screw feeding modules are available.

The ActiFlow smart bulk solid activator offers an innovative method to reliably prevent bridging and rat-holing of cohesive bulk materials in stainless steel hoppers without internal hopper agitation. The smart flow aid applies gentle vibrations to the hopper wall, hereby carefully activating the contained material with the optimal amplitude and frequency, automatically adjusted by the controller based on bulk material flow. It is designed specifically to work with Coperion K-Tron’s line of gravimetric loss-in-weight feeders.

The 2400 Series vacuum receivers provide a high-capacity sequencing system primarily used where larger conveying rates or long distances are required, in applications with one or multiple destinations. They are designed to high quality standards for pneumatically conveying powder, pellets and granular materials for most industries. Conveying rates range from 327 to 6,804 kg/hour. The 2415 pellet receiver will be on display at Chinaplas 2024.

One of the centrepiece of the exhibits will be the STS 75 Mc PLUS twin-screw extruder with its increased specific torque for up to 20% more output

Additionally, Coperion will display the preconfigured size S ProRate PLUS single screw feeder, equipped with a 2410 receiver for refill. This continuous gravimetric feeder is very robust and stands out for its good price-toperformance ratio. The ProRate PLUS line was designed as an especially economical solution for reliably feeding free-flowing bulk materials. Coperion has expanded the ProRate PLUS feeder line with a PLUS-MT twin screw feeder especially for feeding powders.
3 APRIL 2024

Rubber Journal Asia


alliance that keeps Asia’s “white gold” shining

Despite challenges in the global market and supply chain, Asia’s primary rubber producers are successfully achieving their growth targets, with China playing a pivotal role as a major trade partner, adds Angelica Buan in this report.

China: a key figure in the global rubber market

China, the world’s second-largest economy, maintains its leading global position as both the largest producer and consumer of rubber products, primarily owing to its vast manufacturing industry and diverse sectors reliant on rubber. According to Statista , in 2022, China consumed 5.7 million tonnes of natural rubber (NR), meeting demands across automotive, consumer goods, construction, electronics, and manufacturing sectors. China dominates rubber production, including cultivating NR, manufacturing synthetic rubber, and fabricating rubber products.

Presently, China boasts a rubber-planted area spanning 1 million ha across key provinces such as Guangdong, Hainan, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Fujian, renowned as traditional regions for rubber cultivation. Data from the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) suggests China’s potential annual production of NR stands at approximately 1.1 million tonnes.

China’s rapid economic growth, driven by industrialisation and urbanisation, has sharply increased demand for rubber.

Import/exports boosting Asia’s rubber sector

As China’s economy continues its expansion, the corresponding growth in demand for NR, also referred to as ‘white gold’ due to the white liquid or latex extracted from the rubber tree, is evident in the market. Despite being the world’s largest consumer of NR for many years, China’s domestic

production capacity falls short, meeting less than half of the domestic demand, thus relying heavily on imports to fulfill its needs.

Despite fluctuations in manufacturing activity and volatile global prices of rubber and other raw materials, China’s appetite for rubber remains robust. According to the “China’s Natural Rubber Import Industry, 2023-2032” report by China Research & Intelligence , in 2021, China imported nearly 2.39 million tonnes of NR, marking a 3.8% increase year-on-year. The import value surged by 25.4%, reaching US$3.86 billion. Similarly, in the first three quarters of 2022, China’s NR imports continued to rise, reaching almost 1.84 million tonnes, a 10.3% increase year-on-year, with the import value climbing to US$2.99 billion, up by 11.1% compared to the previous year.

China imports four primary types of NR: latex, smoked sheets, technically specified natural rubber (TSNR), and other forms. In February 2024, data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) revealed that China’s rubber exports amounted to US$3.42 million, while imports reached US$182 million, resulting in a negative trade balance of US$178 million.

Comparing February 2023 to February 2024, China’s rubber exports surged by 121%, climbing from US$1.55 million to US$3.42 million, whereas imports declined by 36.6%, dropping from US$287 million to US$ 182 million.

The brisk growth of the automobile and tyre industries is anticipated to drive up demand for NR, which serves as their primary raw material. Despite being a major producer, China is unable to meet its domestic consumption through domestic production alone. Consequently, China heavily depends on imports from neighbouring Asian countries that produce rubber.

As China’s economy, a major consumer and producer globally, continues to expand, the corresponding surge in demand for natural rubber, often referred to as ‘white gold’, is evident in the market

Southeast Asian countries are the main sources of NR imports for China. According to China Research & Intelligence, in 2021, China’s major sources of NR

Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and others are the main sources of NR imports for China
Country Focus 1 APRIL 2024

Rubber Journal Asia

Country Focus

imports by import volume were Thailand, Malaysia, Cote d’Ivoire, Vietnam and Indonesia. Among them, Thailand is China’s largest NR import source. 2021, China imported 1.129 million tonnes of NR from Thailand, accounting for 51.1% of the total NR import volume and US$1.99 billion in import value, accounting for 51.7% of NR import value.

Sri Lanka/Myanmar: allies for rubber exports

Sri Lanka, the world’s sixth-largest rubber exporter and seventh-largest rubber-producing country, annually delivers nearly 98,000 metric tonnes of high-quality NR products, including sheet rubber, crepe rubber, technically specialised rubber varieties, and latex concentrate. China has strengthened its ties with Sri Lanka, a key nation along the route of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative in the sub-region.

Meanwhile, rubber cultivation holds significant agricultural importance in Myanmar, with the country boasting extensive rubber plantation land. The Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association reported that Myanmar has over 1.6 million acres of rubber plantations, yielding 300,000 tonnes/year of rubber from more than 800,000 acres.

Myanmar exports 92% of its rubber products to foreign markets, with China being the leading destination, accounting for 75% of total exports. The remaining 17% is distributed among Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, India, and other nations. Only 8% of rubber products are consumed domestically.

Vietnam: China’s second largest supplier of rubber Vietnam has risen as a significant player in the global rubber market. With a focus on both domestic production and international trade, Vietnam’s rubber industry plays a crucial role in the country’s economy and its position in the global marketplace.

In 2018, Vietnam’s rubber plantation area expanded to 966,845 ha, with over half of this area cultivated by smallholder rubber farmers. During the same year, Vietnam maintained its status as the world’s third-largest NR exporter, utilising a combination of domestic production and imports from neighbouring countries like Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, among others. The country has the capacity to produce between 1.2-1.5 million tonnes of NR.

Chinese customs data reported that in the first eight months of 2023, Vietnam emerged as China’s second-largest rubber supplier, contributing 976,100 tonnes valued at US$1.3 million. Vietnamese rubber has captured over 18% of China’s total rubber imports, representing a 0.43% increase compared to the same period the previous year.

Thailand: topping China’s import list

Thailand firms up its position as the world’s largest producer of NR within the global market, boasting an output of 4.3 million tonnes in 2022, staking a notable increase from the previous year’s 3.4%, according to data from the Rubber Authority of Thailand . The main rubber hubs in Thailand are located in Central and Southern regions, while for Indonesia, production centers primarily in Sulawesi and Java.

Nearly half, approximately 49%, of Thailand’s rubber exports find their way to China, representing the largest market for Thailand’s rubber and rubber products. However, subsequent years have presented challenges, reflecting a gloomy global market backdrop amid conflicts in Europe and volatile commodity prices, coupled with subdued economic growth.

Meanwhile, Kungsri Research ’s Natural Rubber Industry Outlook 2022-2024 forecasts that Thailand’s intermediate rubber industry will witness improved turnover over the next three years, albeit with heightened competition from neighbouring countries. Despite the favourable pricing environment benefiting rubber growers, vigilance against potential impacts of leaf fall disease on outputs is warranted.

The report further indicates that manufacturers of sheet rubber and technically specified rubber (TSR) will profit from increasing demand in China and Japan, driven by optimistic prospects for the automotive, tyre, and electric vehicle (EV) sectors, alongside the imperative to bolster rubber inventories. Similarly, producers of compound rubber are poised to capitalise on a more conducive business climate driven by rising demand from Chinese tyre and auto parts manufacturers.

2 APRIL 2024
Thai compound rubber producers are poised to take advantage of a more conducive business climate fueled by increasing demand from Chinese tyre and auto parts makers

Rubber Journal Asia

Indonesia: expansion destination for Chinese tyre makers

As the world’s second-largest producer of NR, Indonesia exports roughly 85% of its rubber production. Since the 1980s, the industry has seen steady growth, with around 80% of production attributed to small farmers. However, Indonesia’s productivity per ha remains relatively low due to ageing trees and limited replanting investment. Most production comes from regions like South Sumatra, North Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, and West Kalimantan.

China is a significant trade partner of Indonesia. In 2022, Indonesia exported over US$4 billion worth of rubber. During the same year, rubber ranked as Indonesia’s 12th most exported product. Key export destinations for rubber include the US, Japan, India, Canada, and China. Indonesia’s rubber exports to China amounted to US$403.25 million in 2022, based on data from the United Nations’ Comtrade.

In 2023, the Rubber Association of Indonesia (GAPKINDO) observed a decrease in domestic NR production supply, leading to a 10% decline in the average yearly export of NR products. Moreover, the country has faced challenges with diminished productivity due to land conversions from NR to other cash crops and commodities.

Consequently, Indonesia is advocating for a more proactive approach to global trade and has initiated discussions with Malaysia to explore various cooperation opportunities. Together, they aim to address NR pests and diseases that adversely affect productivity at the farmer level.

Meanwhile, several major Chinese tyre manufacturers are expanding their operations into Indonesia. Hangzhouheadquartered Zhongce (ZC) Rubber is constructing a new factory in Semarang, Indonesia, covering an area of 500,000 sq m. The facility is currently under construction and is anticipated to be completed within the year.

Additionally, Chinese tyre maker Sailun Group has announced a US$251 million investment to establish a new manufacturing facility in Demak City, Indonesia. The plant will have the capacity to produce 3.6 million radial passenger car tyres/year.

Malaysia: evolving support amid production decline Malaysia, Asia’s third-largest rubber producer, prioritises its rubber industry, considering it a major contributor to its GDP and economic growth. The country’s rubber manufacturing centres around tyres, industrial rubber products, and consumables like gloves and footwear.

However, NR production has seen a decline over the past few decades. According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) , Malaysia’s NR production dropped by 4.5% to 28,533 tonnes in July 2023 from 29,867 tonnes in June 2023. Year-on-year, rubber production was also down by 24.6% from 37,843 tonnes during the same period a year ago.

Additionally, rubber’s total stocks in July 2023 shrunk by 9.9% to 143,840 tonnes compared to 159,718 tonnes in June 2023.

Similar to Sri Lanka, Malaysia also has a trade pact with China. The Sino-Malaysian rubber trade between 1950 to 1980 mutually supported the two countries’ rubber supply and demand requirements. Overall, Malaysia’s total rubber exports exceed 1.1 million tonnes, with China serving as the main export destination, according to OEC data. In 2023, Malaysia’s rubber exports totalled RM20 billion, showing a 25.9% decline from 2022, with China accounting for 6% or RM1.1 billion of the exports, as reported by the Malaysian Rubber Council

Conversely, Comtrade data indicate that China’s exports of rubber to Malaysia amounted to US$851 million in 2023. This trade relationship is anticipated to further strengthen in the years to come. 3
APRIL 2024
Country Focus
ZC Rubber is building a new 500,000 sq m factory in Semarang, Indonesia, slated for completion this year Sailun, previously listed as a provincial-level green factory and the sole tyre company selected in Qingdao, is establishing a new facility in Indonesia

India Rubber

The All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) was established in 1945 with the purpose of representing the rubber sector in India. As the leading organisation for the industry, AIRIA works towards advancing its interests and facilitating cooperation, growth, innovation and development within the industry. RJA interviews AIRIA’s newly appointed President Shashi Singh.

How is the northeast region of India emerging as a prominent player in the rubber Industry?

Singh: The northeast region of India, including states such as Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh, have a favorable climate with ample rainfall and moderate temperature that provides the necessary conditions for the growth of rubber trees.

The central government has provided various incentives and support schemes to encourage rubber cultivation in this region. These include subsidies for establishing plantations, financial assistance for infrastructure development, and R&D initiatives for increased productivity. This has led to a push in many small and marginal farmers to take up rubber cultivation as a source of income.

What factors are driving change and development in the North-East rubber Industry? And how is this beneficial for the economy and environment?

Singh: Agriculture has long been the backbone of the economy in the northeast region, providing livelihoods for a significant portion of the population. However, with the decline in traditional crops, there has been a growing need for diversification in the agricultural sector. This has led to a shift towards exploring new crops and cultivation techniques that can provide farmers with a stable source of income.

One such crop that has gained popularity in recent years is rubber. The northeast region has ideal climatic conditions for rubber cultivation, and its demand both domestically and internationally has been steadily increasing. This has prompted many farmers to switch from traditional crops to rubber cultivation, as it offers higher returns and better market opportunities.

This has not only benefitted the farmers but has also contributed to the overall development of the region. Rubber cultivation also has the potential to bring about significant economic benefits for the region, such as employment opportunities and export potential. With its ability to thrive in the region’s climate and terrain, rubber cultivation is seen as a sustainable and viable option for diversifying agriculture in the northeast region

What new technologies and advancements are used in the North-East rubber industry?

Singh: Over the past five years, substantial efforts have been made to improve the rubber industry’s infrastructure in the northeast region. This includes the establishment of processing units, warehousing facilities, transportation systems, and research institutes to support the entire rubber production value chain.

Most recently, the Tripura government organised an Investment Summit, inviting companies in the rubber industry to set up manufacturing plants for rubber parts. They are offering various attractive incentives, such as Capital Investment Subsidy, Tax rebates, Power subsidy, Interest subsidy, EPF and ESI reimbursement, and Export Promotion.

The specifics of these incentives are as follows:

– Capital Investment Subsidy: companies can receive up to 40% (maximum of Rs.70 lakh per year) of their capital investment.

Rubber Journal Asia APRIL 2024
Shashi Singh, the newly appointed President of AIRIA, speaks to RJA on the development of the rubber sector in the North-east region

– establishments will prioritise purchasing from businesses in the rubber industry.

– Tax rebates: businesses can receive a 100% rebate (up to Rs.60 lakh per year) on taxes.

– Power subsidy: companies can receive a 25% subsidy (up to Rs.20 lakh per year) on their electricity bills.

– Interest subsidy: businesses can receive a 4% subsidy (up to Rs.3 lakh per year) on their interest payments.

– Standard Certification Charges: 100% (onetime)

How did rubber plantations in the northeast lead to the economic growth of the region?

Singh: The rubber industry plays a crucial role in employment generation, particularly in developing countries. This industry is known for its labour-intensive operations, which has led to the creation of numerous job opportunities for individuals in the local communities.

It has contributed significantly to reducing the unemployment rate and has provided a stable source of income for many households. One of the primary reasons for the labourintensive nature of rubber industries is the diverse range of activities involved in the production process.

From collecting latex from rubber trees to processing and manufacturing final products, there are various stages that require a skilled

and semi-skilled workforce. This provides an opportunity for individuals with different levels of education and skills to work in the industry, thus catering to a wide range of the labour force. The industry also provides opportunities for women to participate in the workforce, thus promoting gender equality and empowerment.

In what way has rubber industry in the northeast region attracted significant investments from both domestic and international players? And how does the government promote development and growth?

Singh: The export potential in the northeast region has greatly expanded due to a growing demand for rubber products worldwide, especially in thriving industries like automotive, construction, and healthcare.

The North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017 provides central incentives such as capital investment incentives for credit access (30%), interest incentives (3%), insurance incentives (100%), Goods and Service Tax (GST) and income tax reimbursement, transport incentive, and employment incentive (EI).

Positioned near significant markets both domestically and internationally, the northeast region has successfully leveraged this advantage, resulting in the growth of export-focused rubber industries and highlighting its promising potential for exports.

India Rubber Rubber Journal Asia


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