COVID-19 - News digest as of 08.09.2020

1. LG Chem targets zero major environmental, safety accidents from 2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LG Chem says it will establish a "global standard" for environmental safety and expand it to the company's business sites worldwide. LG Chem has also announced that it will reestablish its environmental safety standards for all its business sites globally and considerably strengthen its management system, said Chemweek. LG Chem says that it is currently activating its M-Project, a large-scale safety initiative involving in-company environmental safety and process technology experts, as well as external agencies specialized in related fields, with the goal of achieving zero major environmental and safety accidents from 2021. The decision to execute the project followed the company's announcement in May that it would carry out safety inspections at all its sites worldwide following recent accidents in India and South Korea.


Axens forms partnership to develop, commercialize chemical recycling of PET

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Axens, IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN; both Rueil-Malmaison, France) and Jeplan, Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) have recently signed a joint development and commercialization agreement in order to develop, demonstrate and commercialize an innovative polyethylene terephthalate (PET) monomer recycling process for all types of waste PET-based materials, including bottles, films, trays or textile (polyester), said Chemengonline.

This new process, called Rewind PET, involves an optimized, glycolysis-based PET depolymerization combined with specific purification steps aiming at removing all organic and inorganic compounds present in waste PET. The product is a purified BHET (bis(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalate) monomer, ready to be used in a PET plant and produce again any type of PET, from fibers to food grade resins.

The partners can demonstrate a strong track-record in the field: Jeplan has operated the first ever industrial PET bottles chemical recycling plant, called Pet Refine Technology (PRT: 22,000 ton/yr), in Japan. In 2018 Jeplan also started-up a 2,000 ton/yr demonstration plant, called Kitakyushu Hibikinada Plant (KHP) in Japan, aiming at textile to textile recycling. While in the past 6 years, IFPEN and Axens have developed a process able to recycle and upgrade colored and opaque PET bottles into clear food grade PET.

Now, Jeplan, Axens and IFPEN are putting together their operating, engineering and technological background and will leverage the 2,000-ton/yr demonstration plant of Jeplan in order to accelerate the development and demonstration of their joint flexible process. With the support of the work at IFPEN facilities in France and the demonstration unit, the partners target to be ready for the worldwide licensing by Axens of the Rewind PET process within the end of 2022.

In the meantime, the three partners will continue to closely work with the actors of PET packaging and textile industries to validate the quality of the recycled PET, ensuring that the full process and logistics chain are safe, robust and economically viable, and set up the first industrial projects.

According to Pierre-Franck Chevet, chairman and CEO of IFPEN, “This reflects IFPEN’s commitment to address society’s growing expectations in terms of reducing plastics waste in line with public policies and plastics industry commitment. IFPEN strategic approach combine plastics waste recycling with sustainable solutions to maximize renewable bio-based chemical in order to achieve long term target of GHG emissions reduction in the downstream sector."

Masaki Takao, CEO of Jeplan, declares “Jeplan will continue to enhance the delivery of sustainable recycled finished products through its BRING Technology, with the involvement of consumers. Jeplan will also leverage its operational experience at KHP and PRT plants to support the adopters of the Rewind PET process and the development of new industrial project. This French/Japanese partnership between our three companies will symbolize an important achievement of our two countries in the field of circular economy."

Jean Sentenac, CEO of Axens, is convinced that “this flexible, high-performance process will answer the PET packaging and textile industries needs to reach their ambitious recycling targets at the 2025–2030 horizon. Beyond licensing, Axens will propose to Rewind PET customers a global offer, from the delivery of turn-key modular units to a full support for the operation of this new process. Axens is strongly committed to develop efficient solutions for the circular economy."

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PET consumption totalled 367,720 tonnes in the first six months of 2020, up by 19% year on year. Russian companies processed 62,910 tonnes in June. Russian plants reduced their PET output in January-June 2020 by 25% year on year. Overall PET chips production at four Russian plants reached 281,100 tonnes in January-June 2020.

Ineos, Saica Natur partner for post-consumer recyclate supply in flexible packaging

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos has partnered with waste management company Saica Natur (Zaragoza, Spain) in a supply agreement for recycled low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), said Chemweek.

The long-term agreement will help Ineos’ olefins and polymers (O&P) Europe business serve growing demand for increased levels of recycled product in sustainable, virgin polymer-quality flexible packaging, Ineos says. The company is expanding its Recycl-IN range of polymers to include flexible packaging solutions with more than 60% post-consumer recyclate (PCR), it says.

The partnership has enabled Ineos O&P to develop high-performance recycled PE resins to help meet the needs of converters, brand owners, and retailers to use more than 60% recycled plastics in applications such as stretch and lamination films, according to Ineos.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, June estimated LDPE consumption in Russia grew to 55,260 tonnes from 45,490 tonnes a month earlier. Kazanorgsintez raised its PE output after a spring shutdown for a scheduled turnaround. Russia's estimated LDPE consumption rose to 291,270 tonnes in January-June 2020, up by 5% year on year. Russian producers raised their production, and LDPE imports also increased. June LLDPE shipments to the Russian market rose to 38,600 tonnes from 31,290 tonnes a month earlier, production increased. Russia;s overall LLDPE shipments totalled 191,700 tonnes in the first six months of 2020, down by 7% year on year. Production increased by 89% year on year, whereas exports grew by several times.

Zhejiang Petrochemical starts up phenol and acetone plant in Zhoushan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chinese private-sector petrochemical producer Zhejiang Petrochemical (ZPC) achieved on-specification production at its Zhoushan phenol/acetone plant earlier this week, said Polymerupdate.

The phenol/acetone plant, with 400,000 t/yr of phenol and 250,000 t/yr of acetone capacity, was fed with its feedstocks propylene and benzene a week ago after a delay of almost two months because of some facility issues.

The phenol/acetone unit is the last to start operations in the first phase of construction at Zhoushan in east China's Zhejiang province. This phase includes a residual fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC) with 280,000 t/yr of propylene capacity, a naphtha cracker with 1.4mn t/yr of ethylene and 700,000 t/yr of propylene capacity, a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit with a 600,000 t/yr propylene capacity and full integrated downstream units. The RFCC and naphtha cracker started operations in December 2019. while the PDH unit came on line in mid-July.

ZPC is building a second phase at Zhoushan, which include 300,000 t/yr low-density polyethylene, 450,000 t/yr of high-density polyethylene/linear low-density polyethylene and 900,000 t/yr polypropylene units, which are aiming for a start-up during late 2020 to mid-2021.

As MRC informed earlier, Zhejiang Petrochemical has delayed the shutdown of its polypropylene (PP) unit owing to weather issues. In China informed that, the company has postponed the shutdown of the unit to August 28, 2020. The unit was initially suppose to shut on August 26, 2020 and was expected to remain under maintenance for about 8-10 days. Located at Zhoushan, Zhejiang, China, the PP unit has a production capacity of 375,000 mt/year.

Phenol is the main raw material for bisphenol A (BPA) production, which in turn is used to produce polycarbonate (PC).

According to MRC's ScanPlast, in the first half of 2020, the total estimated consumption of PC granulate in the Russian Federation (excluding imports and exports to Belarus) amounted to 47,300 tonnes against 40,700 tonnes in 2019. Total demand increased by 16%.

Coca-Cola to transition to 100% rPET bottles in Netherlands, Norway

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Last week, Unilever announced that it will derive 100% of the chemicals used in its cleaning and laundry product formulations from renewable or recycled carbon by 2030, eliminating its use of fossil fuel-derived carbon in the sector, said Chemweek.

This move, like Coca-Cola's, could point to a possible trend emerging among the world's leading consumer brands to reduce their reliance on fossil-fuel based chemicals.

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP; Uxbridge, UK), a Coca-Cola subsidiary, says that Coca-Cola in the Netherlands and Coca-Cola in Norway will transition from using bottles made with virgin polyethylene terephthalate (PET), to bottles made from 100% recycled PET (rPET). Coca-Cola in the Netherlands says that from October 2020 it will transition all its locally-produced small plastic bottles to 100% rPET, including brands such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Fanta, with large plastic bottles following in 2021. Coca-Cola in Norway will transition to 100% rPET for all plastic bottles that it produces locally during the first half of 2021, it says.

The announcements follow that of Coca-Cola in Sweden in December 2019, which was the first subsidiary to switch to 100% rPET, CCEP says. They support Coca-Cola’s ambition in Western Europe to accelerate toward the use of 100% rPET and the elimination of virgin PET in all its bottles within a decade, the company says. The gradual transition to 100% rPET in Western Europe is expected to contribute to removing a total of more than 200,000 metric tons/year of virgin PET from Coca-Cola’s packaging portfolio, CCEP says.

According to CCEP, the switch to 100% rPET in the Netherlands will eliminate the use of more than 10,000 metric tons of virgin plastic, amounting to a 21% annual reduction in the carbon footprint of its plastic bottles compared with the rPET level before the transition. Its portfolio in the Netherlands already consists of more than 50% recycled PET.

The transition in Norway will remove about 4,300 metric tons of virgin plastic annually, delivering a 28% reduction in the carbon footprint of the company's plastic bottles. Its portfolio in Norway currently consists of 25% rPET, it says.

Coca-Cola in the Netherlands and Coca-Cola in Norway will be the first companies in their respective countries to move their entire portfolio of locally-produced plastic bottles to 100% rPET, CCEP says. Rapidly expanding and effective deposit return schemes operational in the two countries have enabled the production of high-quality rPET resin in those markets, the company says.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PET consumption totalled 367,720 tonnes in the first six months of 2020, up by 19% year on year. Russian companies processed 62,910 tonnes in June. Russian plants reduced their PET output in January-June 2020 by 25% year on year. Overall PET chips production at four Russian plants reached 281,100 tonnes in January-June 2020.

CCEP is the sole licensed bottler for Coca-Cola products in Andorra, Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.