Borealis and TOMRA open state-of-the-art plant for post-consumer plastic waste sorting and advanced mechanical recycling

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Borealis and TOMRA have announced the operational start of their advanced mechanical recycling demo plant in Lahnstein, Germany, the result of a partnership that marries chemistry with technology for unsurpassed results, as per Borealis' press release.

“This plant embodies the principles of the platform founded by Borealis, which seeks to innovate plastics circularity through collaboration,” says Lucrece Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation & Technology and Circular Economy Solutions. “Offering brand owners and converters top quality recycled material, suitable for use in highly demanding applications is Borealis’ latest contribution to a more circular economy of plastics. Life demands progress, and through collaboration we re-invent for more sustainable living.”

The state-of-the-art plant processes both rigid and flexible plastic waste from households. And unlike many current recycling plants, it will produce the advanced solutions necessary for use in high-demanding plastic applications in various industries, including automotive and consumer products. With high purity, low odour, high product consistency and light colour fractions, these grade recycled polymers will meet customer quality requirements across the value chain.

The purpose of this demo plant is to generate material for brand owners and converters to qualify, validate and prove fit for use in their highly demanding applications. Technical success will set the groundwork for a commercial-scale advanced recycling plant.

“This plant is just the beginning of what’s possible when key players in the value chain come together to make a truly significant impact in the market,” says Volker Rehrmann, Executive Vice President and Head of Circular Economy at TOMRA. “Having just launched the new Circular Economy Division, it is clear what a large role waste management and pivotal projects like this have on moving towards a sustainable future. We are proud to have initiated one of the most advanced mechanical recycling plants when it comes to post-consumer polymer waste. This will become an important enabler as we accelerate the transformation to a circular economy in the years to come, and we are excited to be a part of this pioneering project.”

Operation of the plant is a joint enterprise between Borealis, TOMRA and Zimmermann. Borealis is responsible for the plant’s commercial success and contributes its expertise and knowledge in innovation, recycling and compounding. Likewise, TOMRA contributes as a provider of technology-led solutions and brings its proven expertise, established process and market knowledge, which, in turn, enable the circular economy through advanced collection and sorting systems. Zimmermann is a waste management company with experience in sorting multiple types of waste, including plastics, and is responsible for successful plant operations and product quality.

“At P&G we are making packaging with the ‘next life’ in mind to help drive a more robust circular economy. We must increase the supply of high quality recycled plastic to enable the industry to deliver on this vision,” says Gian De Belder, Procter & Gamble (P&G) Technical Director, R&D Packaging Sustainability. “The innovative new approach that Borealis is taking shows potential to step-change both the quantity and quality of PCR available for our brands, and help us to achieve our 2030 goal to reduce our use of virgin plastic in packaging by 50%, or 300 kilotonnes annually. Early tests of the material looks very promising!”

“One major challenge towards more circular packaging is the availability of high-quality recycled plastics that can be used in the packaging of our brands,” comments Thorsten Leopold, Director International Packaging Technology Home Care at Henkel. “We are, therefore, very excited that this project brings together three proven experts along the value chain with the ambition to lift mechanical recycling to a new level.”

As MRC reported before, the start-up of the 625,000-metric tons/year steam cracker operated by Borealis at Stenungsund, Sweden, is now "in process," but the declaration of force majeure remains in place. "The force majeure on our cracker is still in place. Start-up of the cracker is in process, however this is a complex procedure that needs time," Borealis said in an emailed statement to OPIS. Restarting the cracker could take several weeks, according to Matthew Thoelke, research and analysis director/global olefins at IHS Markit.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

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.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 15.01.2021

1. IEA says oil market outlook clouded by vaccine roll-out variables

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil producers face an unprecedented challenge to balance supply and demand as factors including the pace and response to COVID-19 vaccines cloud the outlook, reported Reuters with reference to an official with International Energy Agency's (IEA) statement. "Producers are grappling with huge uncertainty about where this goes from here," Tim Gould, head of energy supply outlooks and investment, told the Gulf Intelligence forum. "That's not just in terms of economic recovery but indicators we wouldn't necessarily normally be looking at: (such as the) levels of trust in different countries about vaccines."


January prices of European PE rose by EUR100/tonne and higher for CIS markets

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The January contract price of ethylene was settled in Europe up by EUR65/tonne from the previous month. However, all European producers announced a much greater increase in export polyethylene (PE) prices for January shipments to the CIS markets, than the rise of monomer prices, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Negotiations over January prices of European PE began in the first days of the month. All market participants said European producers significantly raised their export prices of ethylene polymers. Moreover, some producers adjusted their export prices twice in the first two weeks of January. In some cases, the price increase was EUR100/tonne, and in other cases, the price rise reached EUR170/tonne and higher.

It is also worth noting that all European producers have major export restrictions, and some producers do not even plan to sell PE to the CIS countries this month.

Deals for January shipments of high density polyethylene (HDPE) were done in the range EUR950-1,030/tonne FCA, whereas last month's deals were done at EUR850-925/tonne FCA. Deals for low density polyethylene (LDPE) were done in the range of EUR1,140-1,200/tonne FCA, versus EUR970-1,020/tonne FCA a month earlier.

The situation with Middle Eastern PE was similar, local producers also raised their export prices under the pressure of higher crude oil prices and strong demand. Quotas for shipments to the CIS markets were reduced noticeably in comparison with December. Prices of Middle Eastern PE were also affected by an additional pressure from the rising sea freight.

Deals for January shipments of Middle Eastern HDPE were done in the range of USD1,120-1,180/tonne CIF. Offer prices for butene linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE С4) reached USD1,220/tonne CIF.

KCC to merge silicones business with Momentive, increase stake

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US silicones company Momentive has reached a definitive agreement to acquire the silicones business of its largest shareholder, South Korea’s KCC Corp., said Chemweek.

The acquisition consolidates and combines the companies' silicones operations and brings new synergies, Momentive's CEO Sam Conzone said in a statement on Wednesday. It would expand Momentive’s technological capabilities and geographic footprint while strengthening its position in the Asia-Pacific region, Conzone added.

With the sale of the silicones business to Momentive, KCC is increasing its stake in Momentive to 60%. Financial or other terms were not disclosed.

Momentive develops advanced silicone and specialty products for customised applications in healthcare, telecommunications, electronics, personal care, construction, transportation, agriculture, energy, and many other industries.

The company, based in Waterford, New York, has more than 50 manufacturing and commercial locations globally.

As per MRC, Momentive Performance Materials Inc. (Waterford, N.Y.) outlined a series of steps to accelerate its global transition from commodity basics chemicals to specialty silicones – actions that will focus the company’s strengths and expertise on advanced technologies. The steps include a USD15-million investment in specialized Electronic Materials Production and the sale of its Consumer Sealants Business. The company also envisions a two-year transition away from basics chemicals production at its Waterford facility, which began operations in 1947.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in November 2020 by 9.5% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased in the first eleven months of 2020 by 6.6% year on year, 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-November 2020 output. November production of polymers in primary form rose to 896,000 tonnes from 852,000 tonnes in October. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 9,240,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 17.1% year on year.

Chevron invests in carbon capture startup

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US oil major Chevron Corp said it has invested in Blue Planet Systems Corp, a startup that manufactures and develops carbon capture technology to reduce carbon footprint, reported Reuters.

"This investment is made through our Future Energy Fund which focuses on startups with lower-carbon technologies that can scale commercially," said Barbara Burger, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, the venture capital division of the company.

Chevron and San Jose-based Blue Planet also signed a letter of intent to collaborate on potential pilot projects and commercial development in some geographies.

Last year, Chevron said it was investing in nuclear fusion start up Zap Energy Inc as energy companies face increasing pressure from investors to reduce emissions, spend more on low-carbon energy and disclose the impact of their fossil fuel production on climate change.

As MRC informed previously, in March 2018, Chevron Phillips Chemical, part of Chevron Corp, successfully introduced feedstock and commenced operations of a new ethane cracker at its Cedar Bayou facility in Baytown, Texas. At peak production, the unit will produce 1.5 million metric tons/3.3 billion lbs. per year. This unit is one of the largest and most energy efficient crackers in the world. In September 2017, the company announced the successful commissioning and start-up of two new Marlex polyethylene (PE) units in Old Ocean, Texas, based on the company’s proprietary MarTech technologies. Together, these assets form the bulk of the company’s US Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project (USGCPP), which was first announced in 2011.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Chevron Corporation is the the second-largest integrated energy company in the United States and among the largest corporations in the world. Chevron is involved in upstream activities including exploration and production, downstream activities including refining, marketing and transportation, and advanced energy technology. Chevron is also invested in power generation and gasification processes.