COVID-19 - News digest as of 07.07.2020

1. Mitsui Chemicals expands mask component production in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (Tokyo) announced the decision to have wholly owned subsidiary Sunrex Industry Co. Ltd. (President: KAWAHITO Koichiro) expand its production facilities for TEKNOROTE™ mask nose clamps, said the company. This comes amid increased demand with mask-wearing now having become more common in the effort to contain novel coronavirus infections. Through this move, the Mitsui Chemicals Group’s production capacity of mask nose clamps will rise by around 150 percent, reaching a level sufficient to supply 3 billion masks per year. Depending on mask demand trends going forward, Mitsui Chemicals will also consider making further expansions to its production facilities for mask nose clamps.


LG Chem pushes for RE100 initiative to reduce carbon emissions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LG Chem, a petrochemical and battery-making arm of South Korea's LG Group, will push for Renewable Energy 100 (RE100) in all its operations around the world and curb carbon emissions to 10 million tons by 2050, said Ajudaily.

RE100 is an initiative seeking to source 100 percent of electricity consumption from renewables and accelerate change towards zero-carbon grids. Considering its current business growth, LG Chem's carbon emissions are expected to reach about 40 million tons in 2050, but it intends to cut more than 30 million tons. "By using sustainability as a key competitive advantage, we will provide innovative and differentiated sustainable solutions and create sustainable business models," said LG Chem vice chairman and CEO Shin Hak-cheo.

LG Chem will establish a circular economic system that recycles not only products but also waste by developing eco-friendly plastics and biodegradable plastic materials. By 2024, the company will commercialize polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) and polylactic acid, a corn ingredient. PBAT is a biodegradable random copolymer used such as plastic bags and wraps. PBAT makes it ideal for combination with other biodegradable polymers.

LG Chem will set up an energy storage system (ESS) facility for charging electric vehicles made of reusable batteries. ESS has emerged as an effective means to establish stable and efficient systems for power demand and supply. Energy storage demand is growing thanks to the global transition from carbon-intensive energy sources to natural gas and renewable source solutions.

Battery makers are developing technologies to recycle battery packs for electric vehicles as lithium-ion battery-powered cars are just now coming to the mass market worldwide. LG Chem has partnered with Umicore N.V., a materials technology company headquartered in Brussels, on research and cooperation in battery recycling.

Last year, South Korea revised the law on recycling electric vehicle batteries and designated a special zone for battery recycling in the southeastern city of Pohang. Electric vehicle batteries use chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs. They reach an end of life for replacement. Valuable materials and metals in battery packs can be recovered and recycled.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 721,290 tonnes in the first four month of 2020, up by 4% year on year. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments grew partially because of the increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim.

Croatian oil firm INA aims for USD282 million biorefinery investment

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Croatia’s oil and gas firm INA said it aims to invest 250 million euros (USD282.4 million) to build a biorefinery in the central town of Sisak to help reduce its carbon footprint, said Reuters.

The company, whose biggest shareholders are Hungary’s energy group MOL and the Croatian government, has applied for strategic project approval at Croatia’s ministry of economy and entrepreneurship. It is also seeking European Union funding, as the bloc of which Croatia and Hungary are members, aspires to cut emissions to zero by 2050.

“The support of the EU and the Croatian government are key preconditions for the final implementation of this important project ... which fits into the Green Plan and European Energy Strategy," Sandor Fasimon, INA Board President, said in a statement. The Croatian government had no immediate comment.

INA owns two refineries, one in Rijeka and a smaller one in Sisak, where it is developing an industrial facility producing bitumen from 2021. As part of the industrial complex, the refinery would produce advanced bioethanol from second-generation, sustainable biomass, as well as green power, INA said.

In February, INA signed a deal with Axens, awarding the French group the licence to supply cellulose ethanol technology and the basic engineering design for advanced bioethanol production.

Last year, INA also inked a deal with Belgian firm De Smet Engineers & Contractors on the provisional basic design for an ancillary facility and its integration into the existing refinery.

INA plans to invest 50 million euros to establish a raw material supply chain, primarily into plantations of the biomass crop miscanthus, which is regarded as a sustainable source of biofuel.

As it was written earlier, INA has put into trial operation a new propane propylene splitter facility worth 500 million kuna (USD81 million/72 million euro) that aims to boost its competitiveness by expanding product portfolio. The new facility, which is located at INA's Rijeka oil refinery, will produce a high-purity propylene used as a semi-finished product in the petrochemical industry. The splitter's capacity is 84,000 tonnes of propylene per year. The products will be stored in four underground tanks, connected to the upgraded logistics grid for further road, rail and water shipment to the markets of Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Works on the new facility started at the beginning of 2019, during the time of one of the biggest overhauls at the Rijeka oil refinery worth an overall 800 million kuna.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market was 457,930 tonnes in January-May 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Deliveris of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.

Meghmani Finechem commissions additional caustic soda plant in Gujarat

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Meghmani Finechem (MFL), a material subsidiary of Meghmani Organics (MOL), has commenced commercial production of additional caustic soda plant along with captive power plant in the existing chlor-alkali and derivative complex at Dahej in Bharuch, Gujarat, said Projectstoday.

The company has completed additional caustic soda plant of 1,28,000 tpa along with captive power plant of 36 MW in the existing chlor-alkali and derivative complex. The company has started commercial production from 20 June 2020.

The caustic soda expansion has been set up at a cost of Rs 300 crore and captive power plant at Rs 150 crore.
MFL expects that the expansion will add revenue of Rs 200 crore in FY21 and Rs 360 crore in full year of operation in 2021-22.

With this additional caustic soda, the company will reach to 2,94,000 tpa and captive power plant to 96 MW. This will significantly contribute to reduce the country’s dependence on import.

The chlorine and hydrogen being co-product, after this expansion, its capacity will increase by 1,10,000 tpa and 37 million NM3 per annum, respectively.

Additional chlorine and hydrogen generated from this plant will ensure continuous supply to the existing customer, agrochemical, pharmaceutical industries and upcoming downstream project of chlor-alkali derivative complex viz Hydrogen Peroxide, Epichlorohydrin and CPVC resin inthe existingchlor-alkali complex.

As MRC informed earlier, May production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) in Russia was 112,000 tonnes (100% of the basic substance) versus 101,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of caustic soda totalled 543,000 tonnes in the first five months of 2020, up by 1.4% year on year.


Henkel concludes five-year plastic waste reduction bond

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German consumer goods company Henkel has successfully completed a plastic waste reduction bond, said Packaging-gateway.

The five-year, USD70m bond is a private placement with Japanese insurance companies Dai-ichi Life and Dai-ichi Frontier Life. Proceeds from this bond will help finance key projects and activities under Henkel’s sustainability actions.

It also emphasises the company’s commitment to enhance a circular economy and reduce plastic waste. In March this year, Henkel enhanced its sustainability commitment to make 100% of Henkel’s packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. It also planned to reduce the amount of fossil-based virgin plastics by 50%.

Henkel CFO Marco Swoboda said: "Sustainability is not only firmly embedded in our strategic framework for the future but also increasingly relevant for investors and the financial market. "We are proud to be the first corporate issuer of a plastic waste reduction bond, once more demonstrating our ability to conclude innovative sustainable investment instruments at attractive terms.

"By linking financing concepts to our plastic waste reduction initiatives, the finance team shows its continuous commitment to actively contributing to our sustainability agenda." Multinational investment bank and financial services holding company HSBC served as the Green Structuring advisor and lead manager in relation to the transaction.

In April this year, Henkel unveiled new Persil 4in1 DISCS detergent packaging, which now contains 50% postconsumer recycled polypropylene (r-PP) obtained from discarded household plastics.

As MRC informed earlier, Henkel AG & Co. KGaA (Dusseldorf, Germany) announced that Henkel Adhesives Technologies has officially inaugurated its new production facility in Kurkumbh, India.

Henkel are also partnering with Borealis and plastics solutions company Borouge to develop flexible packaging solutions for detergents containing both virgin polyethylene (PE) and high amounts of post-consumer recyclate (PCR) in efforts to increase sustainability.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market was 457,930 tonnes in January-May 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Deliveris of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.