Sugarcane-based Pantene bottle to launch in Western Europe

(Greener Package) -- Procter & Gamble has begun producing its new Pantene shampoo and conditioner bottles made primarily from plant-based plastic≈a move it first announced last August. This high-density polyethylene material, a first for the haircare industry, is made from sugarcane and will be featured on the Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion collection. The new bottles will be initially launching in Western Europe with expansion plans to the rest of the world over the next two years.

According to P&G, the packaging uses less of the planet's nonrenewable resources, replacing petroleum-based plastic with plastic derived from sugarcane, a natural and renewable resource. The company also notes that sugarcane-derived plastic consumes more than 70% less fossil fuels and releases more than 170% less greenhouse gases per ton than traditional petroleum-based plastic.


Solutia opened EVA manufacturing center in China

(Solutia) -- Solutia Inc. announced the opening of its new Vistasolar(R) ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) manufacturing center in Suzhou, China. The new facility recently passed major testing milestones and is now ready to supply commercial-grade Vistasolar EVA encapsulant for use in solar modules. This announcement marks the latest in a series of investments Solutia has made to help solar module manufacturers lower the total cost of production and help make solar energy competitive with traditional sources of energy.

Solutia is the market leader for EVA films in Europe and the first global supplier to build an EVA manufacturing center in China. Chinese solar module manufacturers currently produce more than half of all modules installed globally, and this new manufacturing center will strengthen Solutia's position to reliably supply high-quality solar encapsulants to the Chinese photovoltaic market. Solutia also produces encapsulants in Germany, Belgium, the United States, Mexico and Brazil.


Mississippi, Ohio rivers halt chemical barge traffic

(ICIS) -- High river levels stalled and delayed chemical shipments in the US as spring storms pummeled a wide swath of states and made many barge waterways inoperable, sources said on Thursday. Major flooding on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers was affecting the midwest and lower eastern states, according to the US Geological Survey.

The swollen waterways have halted barge traffic north of Paducah, Kentucky, said Steve Holcomb, a spokesman for Kirby, the largest US barge operator.

Barges of caustic soda sent by US Gulf coast are at a standstill in numerous cities, unable to offload because of elevated river levels, market sources said.

A US Gulf caustic soda producer confirmed inoperable areas and delays in barge shipments. ⌠In three or four weeks, this river system is going to be empty, the source said.

The distributor said river swells of up to 53 feet at the Cincinnati port have prevented the offloading of six of its barges, which must offload at a maximum of 48 feet.


Total's adjusted net operating income in the first quarter of 2011 surged 52%

(ICIS) -- Total's adjusted net operating income for its chemicals business in the first quarter of 2011 surged 52% year on year to EUR 238 mln (USD 355 mln) on the back of higher demand and margins, the French oil and gas major said on Friday.

Chemical sales for the first quarter rose 21% year on year to EUR 5.1bn, the company said in a statement.

Sales of base chemicals rose 31% to EUR 3.32bn in the first quarter of 2011, from EUR 2.53bn in the same period a year earlier, while revenues from specialty chemicals rose 6% to EUR 1.79bn.

Overall, Total's adjusted net income rose 35% year on year to EUR 3.1bn, as sales climbed 22% to EUR 46bn, the company said.

Looking ahead, Total is looking to invest in improving the energy efficiency and competitiveness of its Normandy plant and to increase its production capacity in South Korea and Qatar, the company added.


China set higher capacity requirements on new petrochemical projects

(ICIS) -- China has set higher capacity requirements on new petrochemical projects as part of its effort to restructure the industry and improve its competitiveness, analysts said on Friday. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's regulatory body that approves major investment projects, issued an "Industrial Restructuring Catalog" early this week containing the raised minimum capacities for specific plants that will take effect on 1 June. The government body last issued the industry catalogue in 2005. Plants with very small capacities will be weeded out for a more efficient use of energy and resources. Production at these plants must be as centralised as possible given their high potency to pollute the environment. New refineries must at least have a 10m tonne/year capacity, up from the 8m tonne/year minimum set in 2005, according to the NDRC catalog.