News and analysis for the region’s plastics convertors
October 2013 | Issue 1
Medical applications are experiencing rapid growth in the Gulf region
Innovation key to successful future
Plastic resin producers in the GCC must continue to innovate and invest in new products to remain competitive ulrich reiners kempton, Germany
he GCC region has become a global leader for plastic resins production. Initially driven by feedstock availability, the development of capacities and product diversification has been further enhanced by demand for special plastic products. Continued innovation has therefore become essential to compete in international markets and several state-of-the-art innovation centers are now being built exclusively for the resin suppliers’ customers. There are more than 1,200 plastic converters in the region, most of which have highly competitive products either in terms of their prop-
erties or cost competitiveness. However, their target markets are mainly within the GCC. There is still a high volume of imports of plastic products to the GCC even for mass products like plastic food packaging. The reason for this trend is that the specifications for products in both developing and international markets are not being met in all cases by regional converters. There is only one way to reach regional and international markets and maintain a competitive standard: innovation in products and processes. Innovation does not mean re-inventing the wheel. Innovation is the sum of small improvements in products and processes. No plastic converter ❯❯ Page 5 needs to race miles ahead; it is good
Welcome to the first edition of Gulf Plastics, a new publication from GPCA designed to meet the information needs of the burgeoning plastics converter community in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The publication will cover upstream news revelant to the introduction of new products and their end use applications. A special section entitled “Plastics Fantastic” will feature innovation in plastic products and processes. Gulf Plastics will also contain news about equipment for converters, be they injection moulders, blowmoulders or sheet thermoformers. And, of course, there will be plenty of coverage of convertors themselves, through news of their activities and investments as well as interviews. The publication will also address key issues affecting convertors’ business practices, such as local and global regulations, innovation and opportunities in regional and export markets. Across the GCC countries, there are moves to develop plastic application innovation centers to foster the development of the regional plastic conversion industry and drive it towards higher value plastics products. This will signal the beginning of a closer cooperation between regional polymer producers and their plastic convertors. Further new petrochemical complexes across the GCC are being designed with processing parks as an integral part of the overall investment. And foreign investment is being encouraged to attract downstream industries, such as automotives and electronics, to extend the plastics value chain. In light of this, GPCA feels the time is right to launch this regular Gulf Plastics title. We hope you enjoy it and find it useful and informative. Abdulaziz alhajri Chairman, GPCA Plastic Committee/ CEO, Borouge
INSIDE This ISSUE اﻻﺗـﺤـﺎد اﻟـﺨـﻠﻴـﺠـﻲ ﻟﻠﺒـﱰوﻛـﻴـﻤـﺎوﻳﺎت واﻟـﻜﻴـﻤـﺎوﻳﺎت
GULF PETROCHEMICALS & CHEMICALS ASSOCIATION
PE and PP grades meet packaging needs 2 LyondellBasell ups PP and TPO performance3 Plastics Fantastic 3 5 SABIC extends Gulf plastics capability
Degradability myth 6 7 GPCA promotes plastic waste initiatives Napco expands learning institutes 8 9, 10, 11 Arabic summaries
GPCA Gulf Plastics is online at: gpca.org.ae
SABIC is expanding its polymer offerings
ABIC, already a leading global producer of commodity and engineering polymers, is pursuing a number of new projects in its home base of Saudi Arabia. New projects have recently been initiated to manufacture polyacetal (POM), PMMA and ABS in the country. A joint venture project with ExxonMobil is also in progress to manufacture a number of elastomeric materials and fillers, including polybutadiene and styrene-butadiene rubber, butyl and halo-butyl rubber, EPDM, TPE, TPOs and carbon black. All of these products will be available for local and regional investors and industrialists to set up downstream operations. To support local market development, the SABIC Plastics Applications Development Center (SPADC) is being developed in the Riyadh Techno Valley at King Saud University (KSU). This aims to be a center of excellence for automotive, packaging, consumer, construction, signage and compounding applications. SPADC will work closely with SABIC’s other technology and innovation centres to achieve set targets, including training of customers and employees. It will enable Saudi Arabia to enter advanced industrial fields and support the National Industrial Clusters Development Program to develop industries such as packaging, automotive and machinery. It will also help develop new plastics applications and extend technical support to local and international customers. ■
New PE and PP grades meet packaging needs S
ABIC HDPE F00851 is the latest addition to SABIC’s family of thin blown-film HDPE grades. It comes with a superior stabilization package and a specially designed molecular architecture to produce superior processing performance and better property balance at higher throughputs. The high and broad molecular weight distribution characteristics of SABIC HDPE F00851 ensure good processability, minimize disruptions during film production and provide the good mechanical properties expected in blown film. As an added advantage SABIC HDPE F00851 offers processability at similar or lower temperatures and an option of down gauging due to its better properties when compared to regular HDPE film grades. SABIC HDPE F00851 is recommended for producing grocery sacks, shopping bags, refuse bags, thin film for bag on roll, wrapping film and also for replacement of thin paper products.
Orpic moves PE, PP project ahead O
Acrylic monomer debut for the Gulf
audi Acrylic Monomer Co (SAMCo) has achieved mechanical completion of the first acrylic monomer production facility in the Middle East. The plant, in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia, has been built by a joint venture between Tasnee Sahara Olefins and Dow Chemical. The new facility will produce glacial acrylic acid (GAA) and butyl acrylate (butyl-A) to meet regional, global and captive demand. It uses Dow technologies. Tasnee will market the products in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Dow will market them throughout the rest of the world. Dow says the investment provides advantaged feedstocks to fuel its production of acrylic emulsion polymers for applications such as coatings and adhesives. The plant will also allow more reliable and efficient supply to customers in the Middle East and AsiaPacific. ■ 2 | GULF PLASTICS | October 2013
SABIC has also introduced new grades of polypropylene (PP) for use in rigid packaging. Developed specifically for high performance injection moulded rigid packaging applications, the three new QRYSTAL random copolymer grades (QR6701K, QR6731K& QR6711K), have higher melt flow rate for better processability and contain special additives for excellent optical properties. The materials will enable processors to save significant amounts of energy by reducing cycle times and carbon footprint. ■ In response to market requirements in the automotive sector, SABIC has introduced five new high performance HOMO & HECO grades (PP591A, PP595A, PPI703C, PPI453C and PPI126C). These are intended for compounding applications in automotive bumpers and interior and exterior parts. They will provide better processability as well as enhanced product performance requirements. ■
“For the first time in Oman, the development will enable the utilisation of heavier components of natural gas, collectively known as C2+” Musab Al Mahruqi CEO, Oman Refineries and Petroleum Industries Co
man Refineries and Petroleum Industries Co (Orpic) will begin work on the FrontEnd Engineering Design (FEED) and select a technology provider for its $3.6bn integrated Sohar polymers project before the end of this year. The Sohar project is scheduled to be completed by 2018 and will have units to produce high-density polyethylene (PE), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and polypropylene (PP). Feedstock for the new ethylene steamcracker that will supply the polymer units will be provided from the existing Sohar refinery (60%) and from a new gas extraction plant in Fahud (40%). The project, which will be integrated into the existing Sohar refinery, PP and aromatics units, will also produce additional gasoline and benzene. For the first time in Oman, the development will enable the utilisation of heavier components of natural gas, collectively known as C2+, comprising ethane, propane, butane and condensate. The Sohar plastics project will produce the petrochemical building blocks that will open up further opportunities for the plastics industry in Oman. ■ www.gpca.org.ae
LyondellBasell ups PP and TPO performance Using its in-house polymerisation catalyst and reactor technologies, the polyolefins specialist is boosting polymer performance
olyolefins producer LyondellBasell is continuously exploring new opportunities and, with the support of its joint ventures in the Middle East, will continue to meet and exceed customers’ needs. Moplen EP2550 is a newly launched highimpact copolymer resin manufactured with Spherizone PP technology at Al-Waha Petrochemicals in Saudi Arabia, a joint venture with Sahara Petrochemicals. Moplen EP2550 is formulated with nucleating agents for high stiffness, long-term heat ageing stabilisation for good thermal resistance and antistatic agents for better end-use performance. This heterophasic copolymer with a melt flow rate (MFR) of 11 presents an excellent balance of stiffness and impact resistance offering customers a new alternative for wideranging applications including luggage, housewares, pails, compounding and other injection moulding applications where higher
Tempodrome in Berlin, Germany, uses Hifax TPO waterproofing membrane impact strength is required for end use. After requests by customers to meet demanding waterproofing membrane applications, LyondellBasell also offers Hifax thermoplastic polyolefins (TPOs). These high-performance specialty resins are recognised in the industry as tough, versatile materials combining ease of installation, durability and long service life. Unlike conventional TPOs that are me-
chanical blends of elastomers in a PP matrix, Hifax TPO is an alloy of rubber and PP produced in the polymerisation reactor. Made using the company’s proprietary Catalloy technology, the reactor alloys feature uniformly dispersed rubber within the crystalline matrix, enabling enhancement of key properties such as stiffness and impact balance, thermal resistance and low-temperature flexibility. ■
Temperature change drives repeatable polymer shape change Sun blinds that automatically open and close as the temperature rises and falls are just one possibility resulting from the development of new shape-memory polymers. According to the researchers from the Institute of Biomaterial Science in Teltow, Germany, actuators and motors are also feasible. They have developed plastics that can change repeatedly from one shape to another, simply as the temperature rises
and falls. A key aspect to the innovation is that the shape change is reversible and occurs repeatedly as the temperature cycles within a selected range – the first time this has been achieved. Professor Andreas Lendlein, director of the institute, explains that the manufacture of the polymer provides a relatively large degree of freedom in choosing the conversion temperature and the kind of shape change. The shape-memory effect is achieved at molecular level within the polymer. The active
polymers are built of structural elements that undergo changes to their mobility over a very wide temperature range. To transform the activity at the nano-level to macroscopic movement, some of these structural elements are assigned to an internal scaffold that determines the geometry of the motion and orients the motion. The proportion of motion elements can vary to shape-giving elements and this will allow control on the movement as well.
October 2013 | GULF PLASTICS | 3
تتعاون (سابك) مع زبائنها ومورديها كل يوم ً وفي كل مكان بالعالم لتقدم حلوال عملية .ومبتكرة تصنع الفرق للجميع
Everywhere, every day SABIC partners with its customers, suppliers and the world at large to deliver innovative and practical solutions that makes a difference to everyone.
www.sabic.com GPN_280713_004.indd 1
SABIC extends Gulf plastics capability
Plastic processors in the Middle East now have access to locally produced compounds
ABIC has opened its first engineering thermoplastics (ETP) compounding facility and a new polypropylene (PP) compounding plant in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The facility is on the site of its manufacturing affiliate, Saudi Specialty Chemicals Company. Both the ETP compounding and PP investments bring SABIC closer to its customers in the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and India, enabling them to get to market faster. Four compounding lines in all were installed by Coperion of Germany and have a total throughput of 43,000 tonnes/year. In the initial phase, the ETP compounding plant will produce Lexan, Cycoloy, Xenoy and Valox materials for the consumer electronics, healthcare, transportation, building and construction industries. The PP compounding unit will produce glass-, chalk- and talc-filled grades and serve customers in automotive and non-automotive sectors. The facilities will make it easier to access a diverse material offering, provide local options for custom colour matching and provide the potential for shorter lead times. ■
The SABIC compounding plant was supplied by Coperion under a turnkey contract
Innovation key to successful future ❯❯ Continued from page 1 enough for certain properties to be better by 10%. Much of the innovation in Europe comes from 30,000 smalland mid-sized companies because they are acting faster than larger companies. The valuable assets of these firms are still under-utilised in the Gulf region, but can be used by looking into new products, technologies and markets. Market opportunities for plastic products from the region exist, but need to be explored further. For example, food packaging will grow 4-6% in the GCC. Major projects in poultry production, prepared food and food services are in the realization phase, according to the food industry. Medical applications are also growing particularly fast in the Gulf while building and construction is still a source of growth in plastic conversion. Export opportunities are obvious to almost all regions of the world. The GCC is an ideal geographical hub for export and regions
within its reach have higher growth rates, such as Sub-Sahara and Asia. Turkey is a good example for its determination and persistence in approaching new markets. Year on year, its plastic conversion industry is growing by some 6-8% - not only because of increased domestic consumption. Turkey has been able to penetrate into the more established markets like Western Europe or North America with new and competitive products. It is not only the low price that makes the difference but the product innovation that converters have accomplished by small steps over years.
REGIONAL RECOGNITION There are many examples of outstanding achievements in plastic conversion from the GCC region on a globally leading scale: ■ The largest plastic pipes in diameter are
produced in the region; ■ It is home to one of the largest biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film producers with differentiation in innovative products; and ■ Geotextiles made here have a highly competitive position. There are more examples, but not enough. There are many more unexplored opportunities for a GCC plastic converter. In an environment of resin suppliers’ innovation, governmental support for new factories and growing domestic markets, any entrepreneur from the region should be motivated to innovate. The markets will wait for anybody; whoever is able to deliver the best product will succeed. There is no reason to wait. ■ Ulrich Reiners is managing director at Germanybased Executive Packaging October 2013 | GULF PLASTICS | 5
Degradability myth Plastics litter is a social and environmental problem that must be solved by education and recycling initiatives, not by engineering products for oxo-degradation containing oxo-degradable additives. Third, littering is a behavioural issue and needs to be addressed as such. Telling consumers that a material will degrade when tossed out the car window will only reinforce a bad behaviour by conveying to consumers the false impression that this material disappears without a negative impact on the environment. By promoting the false impression that biodegradable plastics will resolve the issue of littering, the amount of littering may actually increase.
ron cotterman dubai
“The use of oxo-degradable additives for plastic products is an example of an approach that creates misperceptions and can lead to negative unintended consequences” Ron Cotterman Vice president, sustainability, Sealed Air Corporation
added to plastics and exposed to sunlight, these chemical catalysts cause the plastic molecules to break into pieces. This so called “fragmentation reaction” continues as long as the plastic is exposed to sunlight and the catalysts remain active. However, the concept of a plastic material that would disappear from the side of the road while posing no harm to the environment is a myth. The chemistry by which oxo-degradable additives work requires a number of envi6 | GULF PLASTICS | October 2013
here is a rapidly growing demand from consumers and communities for solutions to combat littering of plastic products following their use. This encompasses a wide variety of plastic articles, including grocery carrier bags, flexible films, cutlery and bottles. Unfortunately, there is widespread confusion regarding which solutions actually improve environmental performance and which can actually have a negative environmental impact through unintended consequences. The use of oxo-degradable additives for plastic products is an example of an approach that creates misperceptions and can lead to negative unintended consequences. Regulations that require companies to incorporate such additives lead to challenges in compliance and in managing the proper disposal of plastic products. Recently several governments have passed regulations requiring the addition of oxodegradable additives to plastics to manage litter. The way that oxo-degradable additives work is similar to a burning reaction. The oxoadditives contain small amounts of metal compounds called chemical catalysts. When
Plastics bags are a highly visible pollutant ronmental conditions that often do not exist where articles are littered. First, consider the amount of time it would take for this material to “disappear”. Multiple published studies cite time frames of 90 days to many years for materials to degrade to the point where plastic fragments are no longer seen. The rate and extent of degradation depend on many factors, including temperature, complete exposure to light and the amount of oxo-degradable additives that are active in the plastic product. During the degradation process the material continues to be visible and still poses a threat to the wildlife that may ingest it.
slow breakdown in landfill Second, degradable additives cause plastics to fragment into small pieces that have been shown to persist in the environment. The ability of those smaller pieces to further break down via biodegradation is quite controversial, requiring proper time, temperature, oxygen and moisture to support microbial growth. It is unlikely that those conditions exist for plastic fragments to completely degrade in the environment. It has been shown conclusively, for example, that conditions in a landfill or in commercial compost facilities do not support the biodegradation of plastics
A better way forward The widespread global response by governments, trade associations and environmental organisations on the issue of plastic waste and littering had been to focus on creating consumer environmental awareness and improving waste management infrastructures such as recycling. In countries where the development of systems for collecting, sorting and recycling of plastic products is well established, significant environmental benefits have been demonstrated while economic value for disposed plastics is created. While these recovery systems have initially focused on plastic bottles, further expansion is under way in many countries for other rigid plastics as well as flexible films where materials can be recovered and reused, thereby reducing the demand for virgin materials. The development of recycling options is coupled with education campaigns that have been shown to influence consumer behaviour. Consumer engagement campaigns are extremely effective in reducing littering while stimulating a greater awareness of environmental and social impacts associated with consumer behaviours. Furthermore, consumers see recycling programmes as a way that they can personally participate in helping the environment. The view that plastic degradation is a good way to control littering problem (such as by the use of oxo-degradable additives for plastic products) is indeed a myth in view of the significant unintended consequences and controversial science. It is better to explore other more scientifically sound alternatives such as recycling options in tandem with consumer education. ■ Ron Cotterman is vice president, sustainability, at US-based company Sealed Air Corporation. www.gpca.org.ae
GPCA promotes positive plastic waste initiatives S
everal initiatives are being undertaken by GPCA to raise environmental awareness of the proper use of plastic bags; the importance of recycling and plastics waste management; and to help resolve the issue of behavioural littering. In July 2011, GPCA became a signatory to the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter and also initiated the Clean Up The Gulf campaign to promote plastics recycling and raise awareness about the use of plastics. This initiative took place in six different locations in the Arabian Gulf region and involved around 2,500 participants. It resulted in nearly 10 tonnes of plastics waste being collected. GPCA believes that the use of degradable plastic bags is unsustainable as it will have a negative impact on the environment. However, the proper disposal of plastic bags, their reuse and recycling, could be beneficial for the eco-system, it says. The association has also collaborated with INJAZ UAE - a partnership between the business community, educators and volunteers - to carry out a series of eight workshops, reaching
Clean Up the Gulf volunteers gather out to 500 Emirati students in order to raise awareness of waste management strategy. A series of volunteer-led workshops known as the Plastics Ambassador Program are due to start later this year that will enable GPCA to educate students about plastics waste management and recycling. This programme is aimed at encouraging students to participate and become the foundation of the initiative, while helping them to understand plastics as a valuable resource. ■
GPCA focuses on the 4 Rs P
lastics play an unprecedented role in almost every part of our daily lives. It is impossible to go through a single day without coming into contact with some kind of plastic: shopping bags, water bottles, cell phones, automobile parts, keyboards for computers, chairs, tables, sunglasses, and so on. Recent estimates show that the global use of plastics bags totals 500bn/year. According to reports from the UAE Ministry of Environment, some 11bn/year plastic bags are used by people in the Gulf region. There has been a growing concern over the banning of plastics bags, which are deemed harmful to the environment, with degradable plastic bags being promoted as an alternative. There is a common misconception among national authorities and environmental groups that these degradable bags are eco-friendly. GPCA has voiced concerns through various forums about the move to ban them and switch to bio-degradable bags. The rationale behind this position is that it gives a false perception that littering is acceptable, “as the bag will dissolve away”. GPCA also points to other factors such as a lack of public understanding about the www.gpca.org.ae
chemicals used to oxy-degrade plastics, the length of time needed to break up the plastic particles and what is left in the environment after degradation. Instead, GPCA’s position is to focus on four criteria - the four Rs - to tackle the challenges associated with the improper disposal of plastic bags, namely: 1. Reduce: Bio-degradable plastics risk an increase in plastic bags consumption. Advanced plastics technologies allow plastics converters to reduce plastics use by 10-30%. 2. Re-Use: Bio-degradable plastic bags are thin and not designed for reuse. A better environmental solution are thicker, stronger bags that can be re-used, economically recycled and not be carried by the wind. 3. Recycle: These bio-degradable plastic bags cannot be recycled. 4. Recover: Energy contained in plastic will be wasted. Plastics should be recycled into useful products and at the end of their life, their energy should be recovered. ■ GPCA’s position paper on oxy-biodegradables and other degradable plastics bags is available in English and Arabic and can be accessed at: www.gpca.org.ae
New closure for narrow neck edible oil bottles
ermany-based closures manufacturer BERICAP has introduced a new plastic closure, the EV 28/26, for use with the latest, narrow-necked PET bottles used to package edible oils. Until 2010, it says, large areas of the edible oil industry used PET bottles with the standard 29/21 bottleneck, developed at a time when plastic closures had to fit both glass bottles and PET bottles. But in line with the move to 26mm bottle necks, the company has developed a series of edible oil closures in one-piece and two-piece versions, with differing equipment features. The EV 28/26 closure is a press-on type suiting the now-common PCO 1881 lightweight bottle neck. It is equipped with a screw closure to open the bottle and the content is protected with a membrane as a tamper evidence feature. As a standard feature, the screw cap is designed with special drip-less function to avoid spillage from the closure and bottle after pouring and can be supplied with or without a flow regulator. Typically, the EV 28/26 can also be used for products such as sauces, dressing, syrups, etc. ■
ENGEL e-speed unit handles demanding injection moulding
ustrian injection moulding machine maker ENGEL is introducing a new 650 tonne e-speed unit offering a combination of high injection-moulding speeds and low energy consumption. The hybrid machine uses the tried and tested technology of the all-electric ENGEL e-motion and e-cap series, but also boasts the performance of the ENGEL speed series. Engel says that it focused on two aspects in particular during the development of this addition to its speed series: the introduction of higher clamping forces at the top end of the series; and a new drive concept, which is said to guarantee excellent energy efficiency levels even at high speed. The new machine is said to achieve extremely short dry cycle times. An integrated controlled spindle cooling system helps to shorten cycle times, which reportedly can be less than 4 seconds, when thin-walled items such as containers and lids are being made. Engel says the e-speed 650 has been specially equipped with an extensive range of options – including cooling water and pneumatic options – to enable it to meet demanding packaging requirements. ■ October 2013 | GULF PLASTICS | 7
Napco expands learning institutes Saudi Arabia’s Napco plans to follow the success of its learning institute in Dammam with a similar facility in Jeddah
apco (IFP Indevco), in association with the learning and development unit at the Human Resources & Organizational Development (HR & OD) department of managing partner Indevco, expects to launch a new learning institute in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in November 2013. The institute forms part of the company’s strategy gradually to replace repatriating foreign employees with a young national workforce and provide these workers with the opportunity to increase their expertise. Among the benefits will be an improvement in key performance indicators such as overall productivity, quality control on the production floor, cost per unit and turnover of staff. Echoing Napco’s Dammam learning institute project, the site in Jeddah will focus on computer skills, workshops, English and technical terminologies, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and data processing, safety and security, as well as the important 5S prin-
Napco workers at the Damman learning institute benefit from developing new skills ciples – Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardise and Sustain. It will also allow young Saudis not only to learn new skills but to become acclimatised to Napco’s working environment and its corporate culture, feel part of the team and develop a genuine desire to excel at the company.
This new learning institute marks another milestone for Napco’s social commitment to educating its employees and improving management training. The company says this is not managed as a profit centre but demonstrates the manufacturer’s commitment to human resources development. ■
We Deal In High Performance Draw your next winning hand from our full deck of high performance solutions. LyondellBasell recognizes the need to exceed the performance boundaries of traditional polyolefins. We offer a wide array of advanced materials such as Polybutene-1 (PB-1) and Catalloy process resins. Consider these innovative polyolefins for use in your next roofing, geomembrane, stretch hood, industrial/residential pipe or consumer packaging application. LyondellBasell is continuously exploring new opportunities and with the support from our joint ventures in the Middle East region will continue to meet and exceed our customers’ needs.
For more information, please contact our Dubai office on +971 4 2045 970 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Catalloy is a trademark owned or used by LyondellBasell group companies.
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