Output of products from polymers in Russia up by 10.3% in Q1 2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's output of products from polymers grew in March 2021 by 11.5% year on year. However, this figure increased only by 10.3% year on year in the first three months of 2021, reported MRC analysts.

According to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, March production of unreinforced and non-combined films rose to 125,800 tonnes from 106,100 tonnes a month earlier. Output of films products grew in January-March 2021 by 9.2% year on year to 324,500 tonnes.

Last month's production of non-porous polymer boards, sheets and films reached 35,800 tonnes versus 29,400 tonnes in February. Thus, overall output of these products reached 91,500 tonnes over the stated period, down by 3% year on year.

March production of porous polymer boards, sheets and films increased to 33,000 tonnes, up by 13.9% month on month. Overall production of these products reached 90,700 tonnes in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 64,300 tonnes a year earlier.

March production of plastic bottles and flasks grew to 2,055,000 items from 1,683,000 items a month earlier. Overall output of these plastic products totalled 5,383 bln units over the stated period, compared to 4,901 bln units a year earlier.

Last month's production of polymer pipes, hoses and fittings exceeded 67,300 tonnes versus 60,300 tonnes in February. Overall output of these products was 175,500 tonnes in January-March 2021, up by 25% year on year.

March production of sacks and bags from ethylene polymers decreased to 2,693,000,000 units, compared to 1,959,000,000 units a month earlier. Overall output of these plastic products totalled 6,709,000,000 units in the first three months of 2021, which virtually corresponds to the last year's figure.

Last month's production of linoleum and floor coverings was 14,700,000 square metres, compared to 13,300,000 square metres in February. Overall output of these products totalled 38,5 mln square metres over the stated period versus 33,3 mln square metres a year earlier.

March production of plastic windows and door blocks grew to 1.819 mln square metres and 64,200 square metres, respectively, from 1.480 mln square metres and 53,100 square metres a month earlier. Overall output of these plastic products totalled 4.444 mln square metres and 168,800 square metres, respectively, compared to 5.524 mln square metres and 196,500 square metres a year earlier.

Total Corbion to build biopolymer plant in France

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total Corbion PLA has awarded the front-end engineering design (FEED) for a 100,000 tonne/year polylactic acid (PLA) project at Grandpuits, France, to Maire Tecnimont’s NextChem affiliate, said the company.

The plant, due to be operational in 2024, will be the first of its kind in Europe. It would make Total Corbion PLA the global market leader in PLA, firmly positioned to cater for the rapidly growing demand for Luminy PLA resins. Maire Tecnimont Group’s heritage in polymerization of traditional plastics combined with NextChem's portfolio of innovative solutions for green chemistry ensures the necessary know-how to manage this industrial initiative.

Pierroberto Folgiero, Maire Tecnimont Group and NextChem Chief Executive Officer, commented: "This award is a confirmation that our Group is a trusted and valued technological and engineering partner for large-scale, innovative and complex projects. We are proud to work with a Joint Venture of our long-time client Total to increase the availability of sustainable plastics in Europe."

Thomas Philipon, CEO of Total Corbion PLA, is pleased to launch this next stage in the process: "Signing this contract with NextChem is an important milestone as it reinforces our commitment to the global bioplastic market as the first company to launch commercial scale Lactic Acid to PLA capability in Europe. We are proud to enable our customers to propose sizeable solutions to the market and support the circular economy development."

Luminy PLA resins are biobased and made from annually renewable resources, offering a reduced carbon footprint versus many traditional plastics. At the end of its useful life, PLA products can be mechanically or chemically recycled. The biodegradable and compostable functionalities of PLA make it the material of choice for a wide range of markets and applications including fresh fruit packaging, food service ware, durable consumer goods, toys and 3D printing.The JV operates a 75,000 tonne/year PLA plant in Rayong, Thailand, that started up in 2018. Total announced in September last year that it will quit processing crude oil at the Grandpuits refinery and convert the site into a zero-crude platform for the production of sugar-based PLA and renewable fuels.

As per MRC, Hanwha Total Petrochemical (formerly Samsung Total Petrochemicals), a major South Korean petrochemicals manufacturer, resumed production at its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cracking facility in Daesan (Daesan, Sosan, South Korea) on April 14 after preventive maintenance and expansion. Repair work at these facilities of the cracking unit in Daesan, which can produce 310 thousand tons of ethylene and 120,000 tonnes of propylene per year, began on March 2 this year.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated polyethylene (PE) consumption totalled 356,370 tonnes in the first two month of 2021, down by 9% year on year. Shipments of exclusively low density polyethylene (LDPE) increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market was 246,870 tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 30% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Maire Tecnimont S.p.A., listed on the Milan Stock Exchange, heads an industrial group which leads the global natural resource conversion market (downstream oil & gas plant engineering, with technological and executive expertise). Its subsidiary NextChem operates in the field of green chemicals and technologies in support of the energy transition. The Maire Tecnimont Group operates in approx. 45 countries, though approx. 50 operative companies and about 9,100 people.

Advil to reduce plastic in over 80 million bottles by 20%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In what’s being called a first for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, Advil maker GSK Consumer Healthcare (GSK) has announced a plan to reduce the plastic in over 80 million Advil bottles by 20%, which the company says will result in a reduction of nearly 500,000 pounds of plastic in the environment, said Canplastics.

GSK has already begun transitioning Advil’s bottles to 20% less plastic, the company said in a news release, and by 2022, Advil will have reduced the plastic in nearly all bottles available in stores and online, with the exception of the brand’s Easy Open bottles.

In the news release, GSK officials said the initiative will draw on a new barrier resin technology that reduces the amount of resin required to mold and craft the bottles, while maintaining the same barrier protection properties. “It allows for a 20% reduction in material usage for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles that will never enter the environmental waste stream, without a reduction to critical performance characteristics of the bottle,” the news release said.

"With the new technology available to us, we saw this as an opportunity to invest in the future of our brands and sustainability goals,” said Sarah McDonald, GSK’s vice president of sustainability. “The initiative is a first in the over-the-counter (OTC) medicine category, and kicks off a series of plastic reduction initiatives across the GSK product portfolio."

As MRC reported previously, in July 2020, German machine engineering company Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions said it had won an order from Turkish packaging producer Koksan Pet Packaging Ind Co to build a PET plant in Gaziantep, in the southeast of the country. The plant will be built next to an existing production site built by Thyssenkrupp back in 2013. The two facilities are expected to have a production capacity of 432,000 tonnes of PET resin per year. The plant will use the Melt-To-Resin (MTR) process patented by Thyssenkrupp's subsidiary Uhde Inventa Fischer to produce various grades of resin. Completion and commissioning are planned for 2022.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estmated PET consumption increased to about 57,760 tonnes in February 2021, up by 7% year on year. Overall PET consumption in Russia totalled 115,210 tonnes in the first two months of 2021.

Valero to operate its 14 refineries up to 89%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Valero Energy Corp, the second largest U.S. crude oil refiner, plans to operate its 14 refineries up to 89% of their combined total throughput capacity of 3.15 million barrels per day (bpd) during the second quarter of 2021, a company executive said, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Valero’s U.S. Gulf Coast refineries are planned to operate up 92% of their combined total throughput of 1.86 million bpd, said Homer Bhullar, vice president of investor relations, during a Thursday conference call to discuss first quarter earnings with Wall Street analysts.

The company’s Mid-Continent refineries in Tennessee and Oklahoma were forecast to produce up to 93% of their combined total capacity of 485,000 bpd while refineries in Quebec and Wales supplying North Atlantic markets will run up to 71% of their 505,000-bpd capacity, Bhullar said. Valero plans for its two West Coast refineries to operate at 89% of their capacity of 305,000 bpd, he said.

The company’s refineries in the U.S. Mid-West and Gulf Coast sustained “no significant mechanical damage” from the winter storm that started on Feb. 14, said Chief Executive Joe Gorder. “Although our refineries and plants in those regions were also impacted, they did not suffer any significant mechanical damage and were restarted within a short period after the storm,” Gorder said.

The company plans no further asset sales after completing a deal on Monday to sell a partial interest in a Pasadena, Texas, petroleum terminal, he said. Valero’s production is approaching levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic cut motor fuel demand, said Lane Riggs, chief operating officer.

“We’re running in utilization rates that were more indicative of pre-COVID levels, but they’re not completely -- we’re not completely running at max because we are still being very careful with our supply chain,” Riggs said.

As per MRC, Valero Energy Corp posted a larger quarterly loss as a winter storm hit its operations in February, but its top boss shrugged off the rare event to focus on rising fuel demand and fatter refining margins. A cold snap in Texas earlier this year disrupted energy supply and sent numerous refineries offline, prompting profit warnings from companies including Exxon Mobil and Phillips 66. But the storm-related disruptions also boosted fuel prices and in turn, margins for refiners, with Valero's Q1 refining margin surging 33% sequentially to USD1.45 billion.

Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia"s estimated PE consumption totalled 241,030 tonnes in January 2021 versus 217,890 tonnes a year earlier. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 141,870 tonnes in January 2021 versus 123,520 tonnes a year earlier. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Plastics Industry Association updates and expands safety standard

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Washington, D.C.-based Plastics Industry Association has a new safety standard focusing on the manufacture, care and use of granulators, strand pelletizers, dicers, and single-shaft rotary grinders, said Canplastics.

This standard does not apply to other types of shredders or to pulverizers. Safety Requirements for Granulators, Strand Pelletizers and Dicers Used for Size Reduction of Plastics is available for sale at a reduced price for member companies at the association’s web store.

"This document provides important information, vital to the safety of people working on or near some very powerful machinery, and the standards for keeping these machines in top condition are essential to the future of plastic production and recycling," said Plastics Industry Association president and CEO Tony Radoszewski.

The new 47-page safety requirements are the result of a three-year collaboration among members of the association’s Machinery Safety Standards Committee, which the organization says represents "expertise from all corners of the plastics industry."

Jason Forgash, president of Bay Plastics Machinery and David Miller, general manager for size reduction with Conair Group, co-chaired the team that produced the standard, which is an update and expansion of a 2004 standard. “Working with a team of outstanding individuals from across our industry on this standard was a great experience," Forgash said. “Our goal was to update a standard that had not been reviewed for too long, and to ensure that our segment of the industry is meeting the most current safety requirements available."

As per MRC, American company Kraton announced that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted an emergency exemption for the use of its new sulfonated polymer, which rapidly inactivates the coronavirus. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an emergency permit for the use of the polymer in the states of the United States, Georgia, Utah and Minnesota for specific applications to protect against the COVID-19 virus. American Delta Airlines will be the first to use this material in these states.

Russia's output of chemical products rose in March 2021 by 5.4% year on year. Thus, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 6.7% in the first moths months of 2021.According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, mineral fertilizers accounted for the greatest increase in the January-March output. Production of benzene grew up to 121,000 tonnes in March, compared to 113,000 tonnes a month earlier.