Sabic partners with Estee Lauder, Albea, for use of recycled polymer resin in beauty packaging

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Skincare brand Origins and its parent company The Estee Lauder Companies (ELC) have partnered with chemical firm SABIC and beauty packaging manufacturer Albea to launch an advanced recycled tube package in 2021, according to Chemweek.

Origins will tap SABIC’s advanced recycling technology to manufacture a tube pack format made from tough to recycle, post-consumer mixed plastics material.

The skincare brand’s Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask will be packaged in a tube of a circular polymer resin made using SABIC’s certified circular polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) advanced recycling technology.

Albea will leverage its expertise in the use of recycled resins to provide a ‘high-performing’ tube experience.

With the help of advanced recycling technology, the hard-to-recycle plastics are broken down to its molecular state, which is then used to create high-performance plastics like a virgin material.

SABIC’s certified circular polymer, which is part of its TRUCIRCLE portfolio of circular solutions, makes use of this technology that can continually convert plastics back to the original polymer.

This partnership aligns with sustainable packaging goals of ELC. Among these goals feature increasing the amount of post-consumer recycled (PCR) material in its packaging by up to 50% by 2025. This will extend the efforts of Origins to have at least 80% of its packaging by weight to be recyclable, refillable, reusable, recycled or recoverable by 2023.

The certified polymers of SABIC are based on a mass balance approach.

The firms involved in the value chain need an ISCC PLUS certification, which verifies that the mass balance accounting follows predefined and transparent rules. Furthermore, it offers traceability along the supply chain, right from the feedstock to the final product.

Origins vice president of global marketing and product development Francesca Damato said: “Respect for the well-being of your skin and our planet is ingrained into our brand’s DNA.

“It guides our actions and is reflected in our Origins offerings which is why we’re excited to partner with SABIC and Albea to provide our consumers with a safe, high-quality and responsible packaging solution that helps reduce our impact on the environment.

“Together, we have an exciting opportunity to define how the prestige beauty industry can create sustainable, attractive packaging solutions that please both consumer and the planet. This is a significant first step in the transition towards a circular economy, helping to close the loop on plastic waste.”

SABIC circular economy leader Mark Vester said “The new Origins packaging is the result of true collaboration and innovation, and another step closer to closing the loop on used plastics. We are committed to collaborating with partners across the value chain to work towards a more sustainable, circular future.”

As MRC reported earlier, Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) have decided to reevaluate their crude-oil-to-chemicals project in Yanbu on the kingdom's west coast, according to an Oct. 18 statement on the Tadawul stock exchange, as they slash spending due to low prices. The USD20 billion project may be downsized to use Aramco's existing facilities in the port city, instead of building a new plant, the statement posted by SABIC said. "Both parties intend to re-evaluate the scope of the crude-oil-to-chemicals (COTC) complex project and study the integration of Saudi Aramco's existing refineries in Yanbu with a world-scale mixed feed steam cracker and downstream olefin derivative units," the statement said.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,496,500 tonnes in the first eight months of 2020, up by 5% year on year. Shipments of all ethylene polymers increased, except for linear low desnity polyethylene (LLDPE). At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 767,2900 tonnes in the eight months of 2020 (calculated using the formula - production minus exports plus imports - and not counting producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the world's top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world's market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

US crude exports hit 14-month-low amid weak export demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US exports fell to a 14-month-low over the week ended Oct. 9, and are expected to remain weak into 2021, as sources note poor demand in the export market, reported S&P Global.

The US exported an average of 2.135 million b/d of crude over the weekend ended on Oct. 9, the lowest level since the week ended on August 2, 2019, when exports were reported at just 1.865 million b/d, according to weekly data from the US Energy Information Administration.

Lack of demand was evident in the shipping markets where dirty tankers rates out of the Americas have floundered.

"(There are) lots of boats hanging around with few takers was what ship brokers were saying (the) past three weeks now," one source said.

Freight has been depressed since the end of May and remains so 15 days into Q4, when freight typically sees seasonal highs, but due to the pandemic and unwinding of floating storage barrels booked in Q2 2020, rates have not picked up.

The cost of taking an Aframax on the benchmark 70,000 mt USGC-UK Continent route was assessed at w40, or USD8.15/mt October 15. Rates for the trans-Atlantic voyage first reached this level on Oct.5, the lowest level since Platts began assessing the route in March 2018. The monthly average for freight for the trip was USD10.36/mt in Sept. 2020, compared to a monthly average of USD22.72/mt in Sept. 2019, and USD17.11/mt in the same month of 2018.

There have been 12 fixtures booked to make USGC-UK Continent/Mediterranean routes so far in October, compared to 14 in the same period of 2019, S&P Global Platts fixture data shows.

Freight for VLCCs, which account for the lion's share of export business out of the USGC destined to Asia, has also been at low levels, with the 270,000 mt USGC-China run assessed Oct. 15 at lump sum USD4.75 million. Rates for the long-haul voyage have fallen 76% since Apr. 1, 2020, when freight spiked on the back of a massive drop in global crude prices that prompted an uptick in floating storage and tanker demand.

"Most ships (are) facing long idle (times)," a VLCC shipowner said. "(The) end result is very poor, way below what the routes are showing, (we) need an increase on cargo volumes, which won't happen soon."

There have been two VLCCs fixed out of the USGC since the beginning of October, compared to eight booked in the same period of 2019.

At least one trading source expected the lower export levels to continue past the prompt market, which is currently trading November cargoes. "Exports are tough in November, demand is weak and (arbitrage) isn't there," the trader said, "I expect it to be weak (in December and January) as well."

Indeed, Platts Analytics expects exports to remain near the current levels in October and November before trending downwards towards the end of the year. As US shale crude production is slated to decline in 2021, the lowered production will result in fewer barrels available for the export market. Platts Analytics forecasts total US production to be 1.2 million b/d lower in 2021 versus 2020, and 2 million b/d lower than the 2019 average. With this decline in production, Platts Analytics expects total US exports to average just 2.1 million b/d in 2021. By comparison, through the first eight months of 2020, US crude exports have averaged 3.22 million b/d, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

As MRC informed before, US crude stocks moved lower last week as Hurricane Delta shut in Gulf of Mexico output and exports hit a 14-month low, according to US Energy Information Administration data showed Oct. 15.

We remind that in August, 2020, US refiner Phillips 66 said it plans to reconfigure its refinery in Rodeo, California to produce renewable fuels from used cooking oil, fats, greases and soybean oils.

We also remind that US-based Phillips 66 remains open to developing another ethane cracker for its Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) joint venture, the refiner's CEO said in March 2018.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PE production totalled 1,712,400 tonnes in the first seven months of 2020, up by 58% year on year. Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) accounted for the greatest increase in the output. At the same time, overall PP production in Russia increased in January-July 2020 by 24% year on year to 1,063,700 tonne. ZapSibNeftekhim accounted for the main increase in the output.

AkzoNobel profits grow on cost-saving programs, beats estimates

MOSCOW (MRC) -- AkzoNobel says its net profit for the third quarter increased 36% year on year (YOY), to EUR220.0 million (USD260.8 million) driven by strong margin-management and cost-cutting programs, which delivered EUR49 million in savings, of which EUR27 million were structural savings related to the company’s transformation initiative, said Chemweek.

Revenue was down 5% YOY, to EUR2.28 billion despite 3% growth in volumes driven mainly by strong demand for decorative paints, the company says. EBIT was 32% higher than in the same period of 2019, to EUR326 million, beating analysts’ consensus estimate by 4%.

The company’s third-quarter performance reflects a 3.9% higher YOY return on sales (ROS), to 17.7%, and lower, by EUR38 million, costs of sales, which include raw materials and other variable costs. “These results were made possible by the continued commitment of all AkzoNobel colleagues around the world, adapting to the challenges presented by COVID-19,” says Thierry Vanlancker, CEO of AkzoNobel.

Decorative paints revenue was up 4% YOY, to EUR1 billion on 14% higher volumes, mainly due to strong end-market demand in Europe and South America, the company says. However, positive price developments were more than offset by unfavorable mix impacts due to geographical shifts, resulting in price/mix 4% lower, it says. Operating income increased 55% YOY, to EUR202 million and was negatively impacted by EUR6 million of identified items related to transformation costs, AkzoNobel says.

Performance coatings revenue was 10% lower YOY, at EUR1.27 billion on 5% lower volumes, especially for oil and gas related projects, as well as for the automotive and aerospace industries. Operating income was 15% higher YOY, to EUR179 million, adversely impacted by €16 million of identified items, mainly related to transformation costs.

AkzoNobel says COVID-19 headwinds eased in the third quarter, but that demand trends still differ by region and segment. As a result, the company’s outlook for 2020, which was suspended earlier this year, remains suspended. AkzoNobel nevertheless expects raw material costs to have a favorable impact in the fourth quarter.

Margin-management and cost-saving programs are in place to address the current challenges caused by the uncertain macroeconomic environment, AkzoNobel says. The company has also announced a €300-million share buyback, to be completed in the first half of 2021.

As MRC informed earlier, BASF would expand the capacity of ethylene oxide and ethylene oxide derivatives at its Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium. The total investment adds about 400 000 tpy to BASF’s production capacity for the corresponding products with an expected investment amount exceeding EUR500 million.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in August 2020 by 5% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 5.3% in the first eight months of 2020, according to Rosstat's data. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the greatest increase in the January-July output. August production of benzene fell to 102,000 tonnes from 95,300 tonnes a month earlier due to scheduled shutdowns for maintenance at several producers. Overall output of this product reached 918,300 tonnes over the stated period, down by 0.9% year on year. At the same time, August production of primary polymers rose to 888,000 tonnes against 838,000 tonnes in July due to increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim, Stavrolen and Gazprom neftekhim Salavat. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 6,630,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 15.2% year on year.

Akzo Nobel N.V., trading as AkzoNobel, is a Dutch multinational, active in the fields of decorative paints, performance coatings and specialty chemicals. Headquartered in Amsterdam, the company has activities in more than 80 countries, and employs approximately 55,000 people. Established in 1992 and specializing in sustainable water-based and advanced eco-friendly products, Mapaero operates a production facility in France and has around 140 employees.

AOC acquires Spolchemie unsaturated polyester resins operations in Czech Republic

MOSCOW (MRC) -- AOC, Kaprain and Spolchemie announce they have reached agreement on AOC acquiring the Unsaturated Polyester Resin (UPR) manufacturing operations located at the Spolchemie site in Usti nad Labem (Czech Republic), said the company.

This footprint extension will allow AOC to further improve service and logistics to its customers in Central/ Eastern Europe as well as in Germany, and will make new products (e.g. based on recycled PET) available for customers around Europe.

The UPR plant at the Spolchemie site in Usti nad Labem (located 70 km Southeast of Dresden, Germany) has already been making resins for AOC on a contract basis for many years. Besides state-of-the-art UPR production equipment, the plant has unique capabilities for manufacturing green resins based on recycled PET.

AOC, Kaprain and Spolchemie have signed on 15 October 2020 an agreement to transfer the operations to AOC (to become effective as soon as possible in the 4th quarter of 2020). This acquisition enables AOC to significantly extend its manufacturing footprint, and further adds to the company’s global presence.

"This acquisition will give AOC a major leverage for strengthening our market position in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as in Germany. It enables us to ensure continued competitiveness in the region”, explains Joe Salley, CEO of AOC. “The acquisition proves our commitment to this industry, helping us and our customers to build even stronger relationships through supply security and continued technical collaboration."

“The Usti operations have been working for AOC already since long time, and supported the company with great service and resins in sizeable volumes”, adds Romana Benesova, CEO of Kaprain Investment Group. “I am very happy that through this acquisition by AOC we have found a good home for this business, allowing Spolchemie to focus on our core business of chlorinated hydrocarbons and epoxy resins."

"AOC has been delivering quality resins for composites applications for over 50 years, and is recognized for its market leadership in quality and innovation”, comments Stefan Osterwind, AOC Managing Director EMEA. “As a result of this change, AOC can take a stronger ownership of the operations and apply its manufacturing expertise from around the globe. This will also help to strengthen the product portfolio we can offer to the region, including our broad range of specialty resins. At the same time, the products based on recycled PET will become available to more customers across the European continent."

As per ICIS-MRC Price Report, rhe activity in the Russian polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market was not strong last week, which is typical for this period of the year. Some converters reported a weaker demand in the market of finished PET products. Spot prices for Russian PET increased in mid-October.

Kem One declares force majeure on PVC output from plant in France

MOSCOW (MRC) -- France’s Kem One declared a force majeure (FM) on mass and suspension polyvinyl chloride (PVC-M and PVC-S) supplies from its plants in Saint-Fons and Balan sites, France, on October 13, reported NCT with reference to a letter to customers.

A disruption in the feedstock chain for monomer vinyl cloride (VCM) stemming from the interrupted navigation on Rhone River was cited as the reason behind the FM.

As the Saint-Fons and Balan sites cannot be supplied with VCM by barge due to the recent interruption, the company was forced to significantly reduce PVC production at these sites.

Kem One will not be able to supply mass and suspension PVC as scheduled earlier, while it is yet to be known when the force majeure would be lifted. The company is searching for alternative solutions to supply VCM to the abovementioned sites.

Saint-Fons site can produce around 210,000 tons/year of PVC, while the company’s Balan plant has a PVC production of 300,000 tons/year.

As MRC wrote before, in late July, 2020, ferric chloride leaked from Kem One’s (Lyon, France) PVC production site at Berre, France, into the Mediterranean Sea. Several reports quoted then a Kem One spokesperson, who confirmed that the leak came from a storage tank and that the liquid was discharged into the sea via a storm sewer. The company said the incident caused no injuries.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PVC production totalled 718,500 tonnes in January-September 2020, down by 0.3% year on year. At the same time, only two producers managed to increase their PVC output.

Kem One, a fully integrated vinyl production company, was established mid-2012 following the acquisition of Arkema's vinyl products division by the Klesch Group. The company employs 2,600 people at 22 manufacturing sites, primarily in Europe but also in Asia and North America. Europe’s second-largest producer of PVC with revenues in excess of one billion euros, Kem One continues to grow and build on its numerous strengths with a view to becoming market leader for integrated vinyl solutions.