Trinseo starts up new TPE pilot facility in Taiwan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Trinseo, a global materials solutions provider and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders and synthetic rubber, has announced the inauguration of its Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) pilot facility in Hsinchu, Taiwan, as per the company's press release as of 2 December.

The new pilot facility represents a major step in Trinseo’s wider growth strategy for TPEs, enabling it to locally produce custom-engineered TPE and thermoplastic urethanes (TPU), together with its leading bioplastics portfolio, for key customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

The state-of-the-art pilot facility is built at Trinseo’s existing manufacturing site in Hsinchu, and will enable faster innovation cycles in close collaboration with customers for sustainably advantaged materials in the Automotive, Consumer Electronics, Footwear and Medical markets. It complements Trinseo’s existing main TPE development center in Mussolente, Italy, which is leading industry developments in the design and production of sustainable soft-touch plastics.

The new Hsinchu plant has been launched on schedule, despite the challenges associated with constructing a state-of-the-art facility during the global Coronavirus pandemic. Upon its opening, Trinseo celebrated 15,000+ safety hours in a development project that spanned three regions under the most challenging circumstances.

“We are very excited to start up the pilot facility for our custom-engineered TPE and thermoplastic urethanes (TPU) closer to customers in Asia-Pacific,” said Francesca Reverberi, Vice President, Engineered Materials and Synthetic Rubber, Trinseo.

“The pilot plant offers a potential platform through which Trinseo can fulfil increasing demand for TPEs, brought about by megatrends such as the growth in telemedicine and the convergence of medical and consumer electronics. These trends bring a requirement for more user-friendly and sustainable devices with greater use of soft-touch materials and bio-based plastics.”

The pilot plant will play a significant role in helping Trinseo achieve its 2030 Sustainability Goals, which specify that sustainably sourced materials will form the basis of 40% of Trinseo’s portfolio within a decade. Trinseo’s biobased and biodegradable TPE and TPU materials comprise a significant portion of the company’s environmentally friendly portfolio, and the pilot facility is expected to accelerate adoption and development of these solutions.

The Hsinchu plant is already supporting Trinseo’s sustainability aims by compounding best-in-class resins made with post-consumer recycled plastics, used primarily in consumer electronics. Furthermore, the plant will enable Trinseo to continue its evolution into a true solutions provider to customers in Consumer Electronics, Footwear, Medical, Automotive TPE and Appliances & Tools - with a strong focus on sustainability.

As MRC reported earlier, Trinseo and its affiliate companies in Europe have announced a price increase for all polystyrene (PS) an acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) in Europe. Effective December 1, 2020, or as existing contract terms allow, the contract and spot prices for the products listed below rose as follows:

- STYRON general purpose polystyrene grades (GPPS) -- by EUR250 per metric ton;
- STYRON and STYRON A-Tech and STYRON X- Tech and STYRON C- Tech high impact polystyrene grades (HIPS) - by EUR250 per metric ton;
- MAGNUM ABS resins - by EUR305 per metric ton.

According to ICIS-MRC Price report, Russian producers are expected to settle December selling PS prices this week. Buyers anticipate an increase of about Rb8,000-10,000/tonne in December prices of Russian PS on the back of higher feedstock prices.

Trinseo is a global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex and rubber. Trinseo's technology is used by customers in industries such as home appliances, automotive, building & construction, carpet, consumer electronics, consumer goods, electrical & lighting, medical, packaging, paper & paperboard, rubber goods and tires. Formerly known as Styron, Trinseo completed its renaming process in 1Q 2015. Trinseo had approximately USD3.8 billion in net sales in 2019, with 17 manufacturing sites around the world, and approximately 2,700 employees.

Cargill, IFPEN and Axens collaborate to advance lactic-to-acrylic-acid technology

MOSCOW (MRC) – Cargill, IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) and Axens are joining forces to further develop and scale biobased acrylic acid, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The collaboration leverages Cargill’s experience with bio-based materials, IFPEN’s expertise in the field of catalyst and bioprocess development, and Axens’ catalyst manufacturing and industrial scale-up design process to commercialize the Procter & Gamble (P&G) company’s lactic-to-acrylic-acid technology, which Cargill licensed in earlier this year.

"More than 6 million tons of petro-based acrylic acid will be produced this year,” said Dr. Jill Zullo, Vice President of Biointermediates in Cargill’s Bioindustrial business. "By leveraging Cargill’s processing technology and IFPEN/Axens’ know-how in catalysis and scale up, we’re aiming to produce acrylic acid from renewable sources thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent."

Since Cargill’s award-winning lactic acid technology is already commercially proven, efforts will focus on the catalyst and process development needed to convert lactic acid into biobased acrylic acid at scale – expertise for which IFPEN and Axens are world renowned. Biobased acrylic acid can be used in a variety of applications, from hygiene products to household paints, delivering more sustainable solutions on a wide range of consumer products.

"We’re thrilled to be working with IFPEN and Axens. Given their mutual commitment to furthering the bio-economy and demonstrated capabilities in catalysis and commercial scale up, we knew they were the right partners for this important project,” says Asheesh Choudhary, Global Business Development Director for Cargill’s Bioindustrial business. "We firmly believe that the combined expertise of the three partners, which includes our recognized experience in the field of bio-products, represents the strength of this project,” explains Jean-Pierre Burzynski, director of the Process Business Unit at IFPEN.

Pierre Beccat, EVP Technology Development and Innovation at Axens adds: “We are very proud to be associated to Cargill and IFPEN to develop a solution in the field of bio-products thus bolstering Axens’ ambition to be a major player in the bio-economy. The technology was developed in P&G’s corporate laboratories and Axens is very excited to develop it to an industrial scale as this technology could have a significant impact on the marketplace."

The companies are advancing the technology according to staged milestones. Although it will be several years before it is ready to be deployed at commercial scale, test samples could be ready for potential customers sometime within the next 12 months.

As per MRC, Axens says it will license its alpha-olefins production technology to Baltic Chemical Plant LLC (BCP LLC), a subsidiary of RusGazDobycha (Moscow, Russia), for its gas-based petrochemical project at Ust-Luga, near St. Petersburg, Russia.

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.

Borealis closes the loop pilot project in Belgium, eliminates single-use cups with innovative double-closed loop system

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Borealis is spearheading an innovative new pilot to test the advantages of a double-closed loop reuse and recycling system, leading the transition towards a more circular economy of plastics, fully in line with its ambition, according to the company's press release..

Borealis Closes The Loop sees Borealis and its value-chain partners replace the 1.5 million single-use cups used annually at four of its Belgium sites with 30,000 reusable EcoCore cups. Part of Borealis’ mission to Reduce - Reuse - Recycle, the pilot first reduces the weight of plastics through these extremely lightweight cups, then reuses them to maximise their lifetime before seeking to recycle back into cups. This double-closed loop system is Borealis’ latest innovation in driving the circular economy of plastics, expanding their scope up the waste hierarchy towards reduce and reuse, and using their own sites to demonstrate the benefits.

Many reuse initiatives today focus on the consumer, for example reusable cup schemes run by high-street coffee shops. Schemes like this can have a relatively low uptake as the burden is on the consumer to decide whether or not they reuse a cup. In the business environment, reuse schemes are less prevalent and there is widespread consumption of single-use plastic cups. By using a double-closed loop, the pilot aims to make reuse schemes more sustainable and economically viable. Replacing 1.5 million single-use cups with 30,000 reusable cups, weighing 15 grammes per cup, results in a material saving of 4.2 tons of single-use plastic per year.

Borealis Closes The Loop pilot project works as follows:

- Lightweight and durable EcoCore foamed cups from Bockatech – engineered to require less material, with faster cycle times to lower material costs, energy use and environmental impact – reduce the amount of plastic from the outset.
- Produced locally by Miko Pac, the CO2 breakeven of these cups versus single use is only at two refills per day.
Using Miko Coffee Services machines, employees reuse the same cup throughout the day, eliminating on average four single-use consumptions. Cups are collected and washed by facilities company Goodless.
- Cups are individually tagged with unique Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips so the reuse cycle of each cup can be traced. This digitalisation means the system can be further optimised, for example analysing how many cups have been used and potentially reducing the number in circulation.
- When cups are removed from the reuse loop (for example due to wear and tear or damage), they move on to the material recycling loop.
- The cups can then be mechanically recycled into food-approved recycled material, which can be used to create more reusable cups, thereby fully closing the loop. This is as opposed to open-loop recycling, where material is often downcycled into a lesser quality product.

Findings and learnings from the pilot will be captured, recorded and published to demonstrate how to design and set up robust reuse systems superior to single-use plastics. Borealis will support its customers and value-chain partners with the implementation of further closed-loop systems.

“As a leading polyolefins producer, Borealis takes a 360° approach in driving the transition to a circular economy in alignment with our EverMinds ambition. With design for circularity at its core, Borealis Closes The Loop pilot project adopts our principles of Reduce - Reuse - Recycle,” says Lucrece Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Circular Economy Solutions and Innovation & Technology. “Life demands progress. It’s only by walking the talk that we can inspire the entire value-chain to close loops with us. As an industry, it’s critical we take ownership of where plastics end up. The double closed-loop system is another development in reducing the amount of plastics waste. This is how we re-invent for more sustainable living.”

As MRC reported previously, the 380,000-metric tons/year steam cracker at Porvoo, Finland, operated by Borealis, resumed normal operations in early December after the company declared force majeure following a technical failure on 11 November. The cracker was shut down to allow necessary repair works, according to Borealis. The company began restart operations on 23 November, 2020.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing PE and PP.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,760,950 tonnes in the first ten months of 2020, up by 3% year on year. Only high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 978,870 tonnes in January-October 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports minus producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply of exclusively of PP random copolymer increased.

Borealis is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers. With headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Borealis currently employs around 6,500 and operates in over 120 countries.

Equinor methanol plant remains offstream after fire

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Europe's largest methanol plant, in Norway's Tjeldbergodden industrial site, will remain closed until further notice following a fire at the facility earlier this week, operator Equinor told OPIS Thursday, said Chemweek.

"Production remains shut down at Tjeldbergodden following the fire in a compressor building at the site on Wednesday. It is too early to say when operations could resume," says Equinor spokesperson Morten Eek. Equinor is preparing for an internal investigation to identify the cause of the fire, according to Eek. The 900,000-metric tons/year methanol plant, owned by Equinor and ConocoPhillips, accounts for more than 25% of European production, according to Equinor data.

Market sources in the European methanol market said prices climbed after the plant shut down. "It will all depend on how long the plant is out for, how much inventory they have. Methanol [prices] in Rotterdam are up EUR10 [USD12] per metric ton in the last 24 hours," a source said.

"The market is now close to EUR300/metric ton, we started at EUR290/metric ton," a trader told OPIS Thursday. "There is some impact but not a huge one."

As MRC informed earlier, Equinor (Stavanger, Norway) has confirmed that a fire broke out on Wednedsday at 2.40pm local time in a compressor house at the company's methanol plant at Tjeldbergodden, Norway. Emergency services were dispatched and police, fire, and health services are at the scene, the company says. The fire was put out at 3.40pm, it says. When the fire started, site's air separation unit and the methanol plant were shut down, Equinor says. Personnel at the factory were evacuated and all emergency response procedures implemented, it says. Equinor's emergency response organization was assembled and authorities were notified.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,594,510 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only high density polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 880,130 tonnes in the nine months of 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports, excluding producers" inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.

Resilux signs contract with Dansk Retursystem for PET bottle supply

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Belgium-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycler and preform producer Resilux has signed a long-term contract with Dansk Retursystem, the operator of the Danish deposit return system (DRS) that will give Resiliux access to PET bottles collected in Denmark, said Petnology.

The contract will give Resilux access to PET bottles collected via reverse vending machines in Denmark on the understanding that those bottles will be recycled and made back into bottles through the supply of preforms. This ensures that the food-grade recycled PET (R-PET) produced by Resilux is going back into the manufacture of bottles and not down-cycled into less valuable end-use applications or products.

This is not an exclusive offtake agreement – the post-consumer bottle bales are made available to other recyclers - and the contract does not state that all bottles collected via the Danish DRS must be returned into the Danish market. The length of the contract was also not disclosed.

Resilux entered into a partnership with German recycling company RCS Group in October, which may allow Resilux to source high quality recycled materials produced by RCS from the German waste system, thereby providing full traceability of materials from collection through to production of food grade recycled materials and their re-use in new preforms and bottles.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PET consumption reached 52,71o tonnes in September 2020, down by 27% year on year. Overall PET consumption in Russia reached 530,750 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, down by 22% year on year.