Dow Chemical cuts global polyethylene production by 15%

Dow Chemical cuts global polyethylene production by 15%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow is cutting global polyethylene (PE) production rates by 15%, said S&P.

“Given continued global logistics constraints, including port and rail congestion in the US Gulf Coast and dynamic conditions in Europe, Dow is reducing operating rates across our polyethylene assets, resulting in temporarily lowering 15% of our global polyethylene nameplate capacity,” says the letter, dated 24 August.

The letter says Dow expects the cutbacks to help balance high inventories at key global ports and packaging warehouses, particularly in the US Gulf Coast during August and September, the months when strong hurricanes are most likely to strike the region. Hurricane season, which lasts from June to November, has been quiet so far this year, although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted an above-average number of storms.

Dow did not respond to a request for comment. The company is the second-largest PE producer in the world, with a total of 9.8 million mt/year (MMt/y) of capacity, according to Platts petrochemical analytics. ExxonMobil is largest, with 10.6 MMt/y of capacity.

With global resin demand softening and logistics already a challenge, US polymer producers have been expected to reduce rates. PE prices have nosedived in recent months both in the US and globally, as have prices for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polypropylene (PP), which are used to make the more durable plastics used in construction and the automotive industry.

Asian polymer exports have meanwhile ramped up, in part because domestic demand has not rebounded following the COVID-related shutdowns of early 2022, but also because freight rates out of the region have fallen back from record-highs. US prices have retreated to compete, but logistical problems at ports have impeded outflows just as domestic demand slowed.

European ports have also seen clogs emerge, slowing imports, while demand in the region has waned amid recession fears and record-high energy costs exacerbated by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. “Dow’s notification made it official, but everybody already knew,” a US PE source says.

“This is a very defensive and well thought-out plan to prevent additional price and margin erosion,” says Rob Stier, senior lead of global petrochemical analytics at S&P Global Commodity Insights. “We’re quickly approaching a global net-zero margin environment where supply rationalization like Dow just did is going to be required for the foreseeable future, and all it will do is provide a temporary reduction in price and margin pressure.”

The duration of the rate cuts will depend on how long it takes for European market dynamic as well as jammed-up US and European logistics to normalize, Dow’s letter says.

Europe-based INEOS’s US division gave an early view several months ago of what was to come. In mid-April, the company declared force majeure on polymers produced at all of its US manufacturing sites in anticipation of a cutback in rail shipments resulting from congestion and backlogs. INEOS has five US manufacturing sites with a total of 1.25 MMt/y of HDPE capacity and 1.43 MMt/y of PP capacity.

As per MRC, Dow has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese food and beverage firm Want-Want for zero-solvent emissions and to develop a circular economy for flexible packaging, said the company.

We remind, Dow, recycler KW Plastics of Troy, Alabama; molder Core Technology Molding Corp. of Greensboro, North Carolina; and sustainable golf company Evolve Golf of Wilmington, North Carolina, collaborated to reuse high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic mesh fencing from the previous year’s GLBI in the form of 20,000 ball markers and 5,500 divot tools for this year’s event.

PPG invests USD11 million to double powder coatings capacity in Mexico

PPG invests USD11 million to double powder coatings capacity in Mexico

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PPG will invest USD11 million to double the production capacity of its powder coatings plant in San Juan del Rio, Mexico, said the company.

The expansion project is expected to be completed by mid-2023 and will allow the plant to meet the expected future demand for powder coatings in Mexico. “With this investment, the plant will have new, state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, enhancing production practices and process flow,” said Guillermo Pena, PPG director, Industrial Coatings, Mexico. “It will further improve the plant's productivity and benefit our customers with improved service levels and faster response."

The project will involve the installation of new production lines, upgrades to existing equipment and increased application capabilities. The increase in production will also allow PPG to locally manufacture new, innovative powder coatings products.

Powder coatings are a sustainable product offering with low VOC emissions, enhanced durability, high transfer efficiency and the ability to be reclaimed or reused during application. They are an important part of the company’s commitment to achieve 40% of sales from products and processes that have improved sustainability by 2025.

The expansion plan for PPG’s San Juan del Rio powder plant, which meets the key IATF-16949 quality certification, is the latest in a series of actions that underline PPG’s commitment to investing in further growth for powder coatings. Earlier in 2022, PPG acquired Arsonsisi’s powder coatings manufacturing business, and in 2020, PPG purchased Alpha Coating Technologies, a manufacturer of powder coatings for light industrial applications and heat-sensitive substrates.

As per MRC, PPG announced PPG INNOVEL PRO, an enhanced internal spray coating that uses no bisphenol-A (BPA) or bisphenol starting substances and provides more robust application properties for the infinitely recyclable aluminium beverage can. PPG Innovel PRO is a next-generation, high-performance acrylic coating that draws on PPG Innovel's nearly 10 years as the market's most widely used non-BPA internal beverage spray coatings. The company estimates that PPG Innovel coatings have been used on more than 220 bn cans in more than 40 countries to date.

EU watchdog reviewing SK Chemicals anti-Covid jab

EU watchdog reviewing SK Chemicals anti-Covid jab

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The European medicines watchdog said Thursday it was reviewing German-based pharmaceutical SK Chemicals' coronavirus vaccine which uses nanotechnology to combat the virus, amid concern of a possible comeback later in the year, said Philstar.

If eventually approved, the vaccine called Skycovion will be the seventh jab to join the European Union's growing toolkit, although other vaccines are also currently being reviewed. The Amsterdam-based EMA's human medicines committee "has started a review of a conditional marketing authorisation application for Skycovion, a vaccine for protecting against COVID-19," it said.

SK Chemicals GmbH "has submitted data on how well the vaccine triggers the production of antibodies against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19," the EMA added in a statement. The vaccine works with nanoparticles that contains parts of the spike protein found on the coronavirus' surface.

"When a person is given the vaccine, their immune system is expected to identify the nanoparticles containing parts of the spike protein as foreign and produce natural defences -- antibodies and T cells -- against them," the EMA said. Later, if the person is in contact with the virus, the immune system will recognise the spike protein on the virus and attack it.

The vaccine also contains an "adjuvant", a substance to help strengthen the immune response to the vaccine, the EMA said. Currently, the EU has approved vaccines by AstraZeneca, Janssen, BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax and Valneva, although the latter has suspended production.

Milder, but more infectious than earlier types of the Covid virus, the BA.4 and BA.5 types, have helped to drive a wave of new cases of the disease in Europe and the United States, the number of cases is dropping off.

European nations are now starting to look ahead to the autumn and winter season, when cases are expected to peak once more. We remind, SABIC, a global leader in the chemicals industry, has announced that its SABIC SK Nexlene Company (SSNC) joint venture with SK Geo Centric (formerly SK Global Chemicals) in South Korea will expand the capacity of their plant in Ulsan for production of advanced material solutions using NEXLENE technology. The plant, operated by Korea Nexlene Company (KNC), supports the production of SABIC’s broad portfolio of COHERE™ metallocene polyolefin plastomers (POP), SUPEER™ metallocene linear low density polyethylenes (mLLDPE) and FORTIFY™ polyolefin elastomers (POE).

VTT spins out Olefy to revolutionise circular plastic recycling

VTT spins out Olefy to revolutionise circular plastic recycling

MOSCOW (MRC) -- VTT is spinning out Olefy technology in October – a process that can affordably convert most of the world’s waste plastics back to usable virgin grade materials an infinite number of times, said Petpla.

VTT also announces eight patent applications for the process. VTT has announced its plan to spin out a new company – Olefy Technologies. Its patent-pending technology can extract over 70% virgin grade plastics and chemical raw materials components from plastic waste. The new process can be done in a single step, majorly reducing the cost of plastic recycling and making recycling a preferred option for massive amounts of landfill-bound plastic waste that current methods are unable to process.

Today, only 8–10% of global plastics gets recycled primarily through mechanical recycling. However, only a limited share of plastic waste can be mechanically recycled. Furthermore, the resulting recycled plastic cannot be used in food packaging and pharma applications. Most plastic waste ends up in landfills. The opportunity to get virgin quality plastic from previously unusable plastic waste means that with Olefy it is economically viable to recycle most of the world’s plastics with minimal sorting by consumers and businesses. “Plastic waste is one of the five major global problems that VTT has strategically set itself to solve,” says Antti Vasara, CEO of VTT. “Olefy is a quantum leap in recycling that will change the way the world views plastic by making it truly circular and guiding us even faster towards carbon neutrality."

A major advantage of the virgin quality materials produced from the Olefy process enables plastic to be recycled an infinite number of times. "One of the problems with current recycling methods is that the quality degrades every time plastic is recycled. After several rounds of mechanical recycling, the quality becomes too poor, and the plastic is no longer usable and goes to a landfill. With the Olefy recycling process, the quality of the plastic is equal to virgin grade, so it can be recycled indefinitely and materials no longer need to end up in landfills,” says Matti Nieminen, Head of Technology at Olefy. “In essence, Olefy will make it possible for plastic to be a true part of the circular economy."

We remind, European recycling group GreenGroup has acquired Lithuanian low-density polyethylene (LDPE) recycling company UAB Ecso. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Founded in 2009, UAB Ecso claims to be one of Lithuania’s leading polyethylene recyclers, with an annual film waste processing capacity of 20,000t.

SK Chemicals to establish joint venture with Shuye Environmental Technology for recycled plastic factory

SK Chemicals to establish joint venture with Shuye Environmental Technology for recycled plastic factory
MOSCOW (MRC) -- SK Chemicals will establish a joint venture with Guangdong-based Shuye Environmental Technology to build a factory for recycled plastic in China, said Koreajoongangdaily.

The two companies signed an agreement Monday to build a plant that produces recycled polyester (PET) and copolyester in Shanyto.

Park No-hyuk, general manager at SK Chemicals Shanghai, and Lin Shuguang, president at Guangdong Shuye Environmental Technology, participated in the agreement signing ceremony.

The site will be provided by Shuye, and the construction will likely start at the beginning of next year. The manufacturing is set to start at the end of 2024. The plant will have an annual capacity of 200,000 tons.

The amount of investment has not been disclosed, but SK Chemicals said it will hold 51 percent of the joint venture.

"The trend of removing plastics has been accelerating worldwide," said Kim Eung-soo, head of the copolyester business at SK Chemicals, in Monday's release. "We aim to expand our recycled plastic business by securing a foothold in the global market."

Last year, SK Chemicals acquired 10 percent of Shuye for 23 billion won (USD18 million).

The recycled plastic market is expected to account for 60 percent of the total plastic market in 2050, according to a report from McKinsey.

We remind, SK Geo Centric has signed an agreement with Weixing Chemical to form a joint venture that will construct a new ethylene acrylic acid (EAA) manufacturing facility in China to respond to Asian demand. The joint venture plans to invest around KRW 290-billion to build a 40,000-t/y EAA unit in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province. The plant is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2025. SK Geo Centric will hold a 60% stake in the new joint venture, while Weixing Chemical will hold the remaining 40% interest.