Japan JX shuts petchem unit; but naphtha cracker runs unaffected

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japan's JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp shut a 140,000 tonnes per year (tpy) propylene-making unit at its Kawasaki plant for an indefinite period due to bad margins, said Reuters.

The propylene unit, which uses olefins conversion technology and feed on ethylene and butene, was shut on Monday, a company spokesman said.

Traders said a string of new propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plants springing up in China and South Korea have created an oversupply of propylene, a building block for plastics.

"Propylene is not doing well due to oversupply. In the last 12 months, we were seeing on-purpose propylene plants coming onstream," said a Singapore-based trader.

Naphtha cracking margins on the other hand are healthy, traders said, as crackers produce a diversified range of petrochemical products including propylene, butadiene, but with the bulk of it being ethylene, also a building block for plastics.

"Ethylene is holding up, thanks to demand," said another trader but based in North Asia.

As MRC informed before, on January 6, 2015, Japan's JX Nippon Oil and Energy shut its olefins conversion unit (OCU) in Kawasaki indefinitely. The shutdown has been attributed to compressed margins in the wake of low propylene prices as compared to prices of ethylene.

The Nippon Oil Corporation, or NOC or Shin-Nisseki is a Japanese petroleum company. Its businesses include the exploration, importation, and refining of crude oil; the manufacture and sale of petroleum products, including olefines (ethylene, propylene) and aromatics.

MEG plant shuts for maintenance by CMMFC

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China Man-Made Fiber Corporation (CMMFC) has shut operations at its monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, said Apic-online.

A source in Taiwan informed that the company has taken off-stream its MEG plant early this week for a maintenance turnaround. It is scheduled to remain shut for around 8 weeks.

Located at Kaoshiung in Taiwan, the MEG plant has a production capacity of 200,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed before, Shanghai Petrochemical restarted its No.2 MEG plant in China following a maintenance turnaround on December 3, 2014. It was shut for a maintenance turnaround on October 17, 2014. Located in Jinshan, Shanghai, the No.2 MEG plant has a production capacity of 380,000 mt/year.

Besides, in August 2014, Xinjiang Tianye Group started a new MEG. Located in Xinjiang province, China, the plant will have a production capacity of 250,000 mt/year.

Plastic bag makers file second California ballot measure

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Plastic bag manufacturers have filed a second ballot initiative related to the California plastic bag ban, said Environmentalleader.

In February, the American Progressive Bag Alliance’s ballot measure to repeal California Senate Bill 270 - legislation passed in 2014 to ban plastic retail bags and allow grocers to charge and keep 10 cents for each paper, compostable or reusable plastic bag provided to their customers - qualified for the November 2016 ballot.

If the manufacturers’ second proposal, filed with the California Attorney General’s office on Oct. 2, qualifies for the November ballot, voters will decide if they want to allow retailers to keep the 10-cent bag charge or redirect the fees to environmental project like recycling or beach cleanups, according to Plastics News.

"Our industry is proud to give California voters a chance to overturn a deeply flawed, job-killing law, or at least, ensure bag fees are dedicated to helping the environment instead of increasing grocer profit margins," Lee Califf, executive director of the APBA, told Plastics News in an emailed statement.

Califf says SB 270 wasn’t about stopping plastic waste and improving the environment; but rather a "backroom deal between the California Grocers Association and their union friends to scam consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees — all under the guise of environmentalism." Califf says the law, if implemented, will kill 2,000 local manufacturing jobs and “funnel obscene profits to big grocers."

As MRC informed earlier, Brazil’s mega-city of Sao Paulo initiated a ban on petroleum-based plastic grocery bags on April 5, following a multi-year dispute between plastic industry trade groups and city government.

WACKER expands Mexico technical center to include dispersion applications for Coatings & Adhesives

MOSCOW (MRC) -- WACKER has expanded the service portfolio at its technical center in Mexico City, Mexico, said Coatingsworld.

The local facility now comprises state-of-the-art applications technology and test equipment for polymer dispersions needed as binders for architectural coatings and adhesives. The expansion not only enables WACKER to help its local customers develop new and tailor-made products for the region. It also encourages the exchange of know-how and promotes internationally recognized quality standards in Latin America. The expansion has focused on vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymer (VAE) dispersions used as binders for low-odor indoor paints, durable outdoor coatings and sustainable water-borne adhesives.

This measure will help WACKER to further bolster its position as a globally leading producer and supplier of VAE dispersions. "Latin America is a promising market for WACKER. Demand is increasing steadily for our high-quality dispersions. Our sales in the region have grown significantly over the recent years and we are encouraged by the regions’ potential. This new facility will help foster the development of our products and support the needs of our local customers", explained John Fotheringham, vice president of Dispersions at WACKER POLYMERS.

The enhanced technical center will now also support customers in the paints, coatings and adhesives sectors to develop new products and applications for the regional markets with regard to locally available raw materials, climatic and environmental conditions, and regional requirements. The new labs are equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation meeting international standards: Test are ranging from optical and rheological property measurements of VAE-enhanced paints such as gloss, reflectance, viscosity or sag resistance to physical qualities of paints and adhesives like density, solids content or thermal stability.

Additionally, the technical center has installed a new UV chamber to analyze color fading and weathering behavior of polymer-modified exterior coatings.

As MRC wrote previously, in 2013, Wacker Chemie AG officially launched its new production plant for ethylene-vinyl-acetate copolymer (EVA) dispersions at its Ulsan site in South Korea. The additional 40,000 tonnes from the second reactor line increases the site's EVA-dispersion capacity to a total of 90,000 tonnes per year. The production capacity of the site has, thus, almost doubled, making the plant complex one of the biggest of its kind in South Korea.

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.

North American plastic box makers merge

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Two plastic box companies have merged to create what they believe is the largest manufacturer of the specialty packaging in North America, said Plasticsnews.

Clear plastic boxes are formed from sheet to create a premium packaging option to folding paper cartons in a range of consumer products, explained Dave Dennison, president of Printex Transparent Packaging Inc. Dennison’s former company, Transparent Packaging, merged with Printex Packaging in late August to form Printex Transparent Packaging Inc. The merged entity has production plants in St. Laurent, Quebec, and Islandia, N.Y., and both will keep running, according to Dennison. The merged business employs about 60 and has annual sales exceeding $10 million. The new company has three design centers in North America and also works with a partner in China for offshore packaging jobs.

Transparent plastic boxes are a high-end alternative to folding paper cartons for packaging cosmetics, candy and a host of other consumer products. Dennison said a study by Clemson University showed consumers feasted their eyes on the clear plastic boxes for 678 percent longer than when products were packed in paper boxes.

In addition to plastic boxes, the new company produces hybrid packaging comprised of plastic windows and paper walls and this too is a growing market. For many of these applications, Dennison said, the company works with paper box producers who usually aren’t familiar with plastics and how to handle them without scratching the surface or otherwise degrading the appearance of the package.

Dennison said the bigger, merged company will be able to compete more effectively with imports. Retailers such as Wal-Mart are reshoring some packaging needs and this is fueling growth beyond the materials-replacement trend. Although growth is healthy, the plastic box market is still relatively small, explained Dennison.

Printex Transparent Packaging buys plastic sheet, die cuts it, prints and decorates the blank, then creases it. The customer has the option of folding the shape into a box using equipment and techniques recommended by Printex Transparent. PET is the major resin in the process but PVC, polypropylene and other polymers can be used. For paperboard cartons with windows, the window often is PET or polystyrene. Dennison said his firm also offers post-consumer recycled content for PET constructions.