Demand for plastics containers in USA to rise

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Demand for plastic containers in the U.S. is forecast to increase 4.9% annually to USD32.4 billion in 2016, consuming 14.2 billion pounds of resin, according to Canplastics.

The report from the Cleveland-based industry market research firm forecasts that growth will be driven by performance advantages over alternative packaging formats as well as a recovery in the overall economy following the recession of 2007-2009.

The report also notes that volume gains will lag value gains as the average weight per container unit continues to fall, reflecting preferences for small, single-serving containers in a number of food and beverage markets, and lightweighting of containers to reduce material use and enhance sustainability. Also, despite increased competition from pouches and other types of flexible packaging, these will often augment rather than replace rigid containers. PET and high density polyethylene (HDPE) are by far the primary plastic container resins, accounting for a combined 86% of demand in 2011.

Bottles and jars, which represented 77% of plastic container poundage in 2011, are by far the leading plastic container type. Through 2016, plastic bottle and jar demand is expected to rise 2.8% per year to 165 billion units, moderated by the already-dominant position of plastic in many applications, with few new areas existing for large-scale conversions. Additionally, bottle unit growth during 2001-2006 benefited greatly from booming sales of bottled water. Moving forward, a considerable decline in bottled water growth is expected based on environmental factors. However, developments will be aided by healthy prospects for smaller single-serving beverage bottles. Among major bottle and jar markets, the fastest gains are predicted for pharmaceutical and food applications.

Faster volume gains are expected for other plastic container categories, such as tubs, cups and bowls. Demand will be backed by popular trends like convenience, portability and portion control benefits of single-serving cup packaging as well as favorable outlooks for certain foods (e.g., yogurt, hummus, single-cup coffee) typically packaged in tubs and cups. A rebound is expected for plastic pails based on a recovery in construction activity from low levels in 2011, which will increase demand for paints, adhesives, driveway sealers and other goods typically packaged in pails.


Lanxess developed high-molecular EPDM grade for dynamic applications

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Specialty chemicals company Lanxess has developed Keltan 9565Q, an ethylene-propylene-diene rubber (EPDM) that can really compete with natural rubber (NR), which is susceptible to aging, as per the company's press release.

This new grade is characterized by its exceptionally high molecular weight, which gives the synthetic rubber its extremely high NR-type strength and resilience. Nonetheless, as a saturated polymer, this grade also still features the heat, weathering and ozone resistance typical of EPDM rubber. Keltan 9565Q is thus not only superior to natural rubber in terms of heat aging but can also offer this benefit in highly dynamic applications. In addition, this new ultra-high-molecular Keltan grade opens up new potential for more economical EPDM processing compared with NR.

"Customers in the mechanical engineering and automotive industries are demanding more and more types of rubber that withstand high operating temperatures for long periods," explained John Beelen, synthetic rubber expert in the High Performance Elastomers business unit of Lanxess. "Due to its high resilience and tear resistance, natural rubber is still in demand in the industrial sector but can hardly meet the rising temperature requirements."

As MRC wrote previously, in May 2015, Lanxess provides its innovative bio-based Keltan Eco EPDM rubber to Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. This well-known global manufacturer of seals and vibration control technology products recently started to produce rubber seals made of Keltan Eco EPDM at its North American affiliate. Keltan Eco EPDM (ethylene-propylene-diene monomer) rubber contains up to 70% of ethylene obtained from sugarcane, and has an impressive set of properties that is in no way inferior to that of "conventional" EPDM. The bio-renewable rubber compound, for which development at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies already began in 2012, addresses the constantly increasing standards on CO2 footprint reduction, especially in the automotive industry, and the overall global pull for more sustainable industrial solutions.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.0 billion in 2014 and about 16,300 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.

Poland tops the growth league in European flexible packaging market in 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Flexible packaging demand in Poland achieved solid growth of 5 per cent during 2014, compared with 1.4 per cent for Europe as a whole, according to Canplastics.

Other national markets that PCI identified as having significantly outperformed the European average were Turkey, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and Romania.

"For the second year running there have been very few inflationary pressures within the European flexible packaging market and volume consumption growth in most European countries has been tracking that of value over the last year," report author Paul Gaster said. "Poland, however, has stood out as the one major market where demand has continued to grow strongly, underpinned by robust domestic demand and a successful focus on packaged food exports."

According to the report, Poland’s flexible packaging industry has achieved its success by supporting the high levels of inward direct investment made by multinational food brand owners in recent years, keen to take advantage of growing packaged food markets in Eastern Europe and of lower production costs available in the Polish market. "Their converted flexible packaging needs have been able to be supplied by a sophisticated domestic flexible packaging industry in which leading multinational converters Amcor, Constantia and Mondi, along with Polish converter Alupol are the major players," Gaster said.

In identifying another major European trend, PCI reports that growth in flexible packaging demand for coffee applications, boosted by changing consumer drinking habits, has been another driver of the market in 2014. While the volume of coffee consumed in most European markets has been broadly stable or in slow decline, new added-value formats has boosted flexible packaging usage. "Examples of this positive trend include increased usage of coffee pod and capsule systems using aluminium lidding and associated outer bags; also of VFFS bags of ground coffee and beans in some national markets; and the adoption of refill bags for instant coffee," Gaster said.

In the 15th edition of their report on the European market, PCI notes that Europe’s 12.9 billion euro flexible packaging market remains one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world, accounting for over 20 per cent of the global total. In 2014, flexible packaging demand in Western Europe grew by 1.2 per cent in both value and area terms, while the previous rapid growth in Eastern Europe has halved following sharp declines in growth in Russia and a real decline in demand in Ukraine.

Looking forward, PCI forecasts that flexible packaging demand will pick up slightly in Western Europe in 2015 as packaged food demand in some of the struggling EU economies continues to recover. However, this is expected to be offset in Eastern Europe where demand growth is expected to fall below 1 per cent due to expected consumption declines in Russia and Ukraine. Between 2014 and 2019, PCI is forecasting European flexible packaging CAGR of 2 per cent to reach 14.2 billion euros.


Wacker announces changes in its Executive Board

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Munich-based chemical group Wacker Chemie has announced the change it is Executive Board, according to the company's press release.

Thus, Dr. Joachim Rauhut (61), CFO of Wacker Chemie AG, is leaving the company as planned when his contract expires on October 31, 2015. Dr. Tobias Ohler (44), a Wacker Executive Board member since early 2013, is to take over as CFO on November 1. The Supervisory Board has extended his contract for another five years. It was due to expire on December 31, 2015.

Effective November 1, 2015, Dr. Christian Hartel (44) is to join the Executive Board. The duration of his contract is three years. Currently, Hartel is president of Wacker Silicones.

Dr. Peter-Alexander Wacker, Supervisory Board chairman, thanked Rauhut for all his dedicated work for the company: "Joachim Rauhut has decisively shaped WACKER Group’s development during his many years as CFO. He played a vital role in important projects, such as WACKER’s successful IPO in 2006. The company has a great deal to thank Joachim Rauhut for, and his achievements deserve our respect and recognition. In Christian Hartel, we have appointed an Executive Board member who has proven himself in several key positions at the company," said Wacker.

As MRC informed previously, Wacker aims to strengthen its commitment to sustainable business practices in the supply chain. To this end, in February 2015, the company joined the "Together for Sustainability" (TfS) initiative. Established in 2011, the project is targeted on implementing a standardized global program for responsible procurement of goods and services in the chemical industry and improving the ecological and social standards of suppliers. After AkzoNobel, Arkema, BASF, Bayer, Clariant, DSM, Evonik Industries, Henkel, Lanxess, Merck and Solvay, Wacker is the twelfth company to become a TfS member.

Wacker Chemie AG is a worldwide operating company in the chemical business, founded 1914. The company is controlled by the Wacker-family holding more than 50 percent of the shares. The corporation is operating more than 25 production sites in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The product range includes silicone rubbers, polymer products like ethylene vinyl acetate redispersible polymer powder, chemical materials, polysilicon and wafers for semiconductor industry.

PPG completes USD5 million expansion of Wuppertal, Germany, coatings plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PPG Industries announced the completion of a USD5 million expansion at its coatings manufacturing facility in Wuppertal, Germany, said the company in its press release.

The project added equipment to existing buildings on the campus, supporting up to a 35 percent increase in annual production capacity of environmentally sustainable waterborne coatings for automotive and industrial applications. The facility, which employs more than 190 people, plans to hire employees to manage the increased capacity.

The additional capacity will enable PPG to meet increasing demand for its waterborne coatings by automotive manufacturers and industrial customers in the region. Waterborne coatings use water as a base instead of the chemical solvents used in traditional coatings. In addition to a heightened focus throughout Europe on using sustainable products and practices, waterborne-coatings demand is being driven by adoption of compact-paint-process technologies by automotive manufacturers in Europe. Compact paint processes reduce the number of steps needed to paint a vehicle, enabling manufacturers to reduce energy used during the process and downsize the space required for the paint process in a manufacturing facility.

As MRC informed earlier, PPG Industries has agreed to acquire US-based IVC Industrial Coatings for an undisclosed amount. The company operates five manufacturing facilitates in the US, one plant in Guangdong, China, and a small development lab in Manchester, England. It has a workforce of over 300.

PPG Industries, Inc. (PPG) is a global supplier of protective and decorative coatings. Performance Coatings, Industrial Coatings and Architectural Coatings- EMEA segments supply protective and decorative finishes for customers in a range of end use markets, including industrial equipment, appliances and packaging; factory-finished aluminum extrusions and steel and aluminum. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in nearly 70 countries around the world. Reported net sales in 2014 were USD15.4 billion.