The construction of a world-scale 600,000-tonne polyethylene unit on the US Gulf Coast is part of the next phase of investments revealed by Dow Chemical this month, as the company extends its US growth investments by $4 billion to reach more than $12bn over a ten-year period.

The US chemical giant is also expanding its TX-9 ethylene cracker as it prepares to merge with DuPont. In separate news, chief executive Andrew Liveris looks set to remain executive chairman of the combined Dow DuPont group until April 2018, meaning that he will stay on the board a year longer than previously planned.

Joining Dow on the investment trail is growing Turkish flexible packaging converter Ispak Ambalaj, which has tripled its production capacity to 40,000 tonnes a year with the addition of a €70 million ($76m) ‘smart factory’ at Izmit. Backed by the $7bn Kibar Holding Group, Ispak is aiming to be one of the top 20 packaging converters in Europe by 2020.

In other investment news, Milacron is spending $5 million to expand the Greenville manufacturing site of its subsidiary DME Company, which will create up to 70 jobs in Michigan, USA. The company is consolidating its mould technology manufacturing and fabrication operations. And Nova Chemicals has agreed to buy nearly 89 per cent of Williams Partners’ ownership interest in the Geismar, Louisiana (USA) olefins plant, land adjacent to the plant, and Williams’ interest in the Ethylene Trading Hub in Mount Belvieu, Texas. Nova is paying $2.1bn for the business.

Across in the state of Indiana, aerosol packaging firm Lindal has broken ground on a 100,000sqft production facility that it says will benefit customers in the local market. It is part of Lindal’s $20m investment in the US market, which includes new equipment to increase capacity and expand the product portfolio.

There was a dearth of M&A activity last month, although colourants supplier Milliken was busy acquiring US-based Keystone Anline Corporation, a dyes, pigments and polymers producer, and converting equipment manufacturer CMD Corporation purchased Flex4 of Switzerland, so it could expand its international footprint to include a Europe-based service centre. Flex4 specialises in pouch machinery.

Intermediate bulk container manufacturer Schütz Ireland is hoping to drum up more business with the addition of a third 60-tonne silo at its Killala site. The Barton Fabrications silo is to be used for the storage of polyethylene feedstock.

Seeking a winning combination are Dow Packaging, Specialty Plastics and HP Indigo Division, which have signed a global Pack Studios collaboration programme to accelerate innovation in flexible packaging. Both companies want to target new technologies for faster route to market.

Also linking up are British inline digital printing firm DataLase and HAVI, a packaging, market analysis and supply chain management company. They intend to develop on-demand point-of-sale printing technology for the food services sector.

A joint venture between Greiner Packaging and Russian plastics packaging converter Plastic System has been agreed, with the JV to be located in Noginsk under the name Greiner Packaging System. The business will be driven by a focus on IML, direct printing and larger packaging containers primarily in the food and non-food sector in Russia.

Just as optimism shone through from exhibitors at the Interpack show in Germany last month, polyolefins and chemical financial results were also shining. Borealis posted net profit of $343m in the first quarter, compared to $280m in the same period last year, thanks to high margins, while sales were up by 19 per cent in the quarter for BASF, landing at $18.4bn.

News was not quite as good for employees of packaging firm Bemis, however, with more than 200 jobs culled in order to improve the company’s operations in the US. Lower-than-expected unit volumes and operational issues in the US Packaging segment contributed to disappointing quarterly results for the company.

And finally…

A non-profit organisation based in California, USA, has launched a social media and video marketing campaign encouraging consumers who forget their reusable cups to ask for their coffee without a lid, calling the expanded polystyrene used unrecyclable.

Called #Topless4Oceans, the campaign by The 5 Gyres Institute uses topless actors in an attention-grabbing online video encouraging consumers to “pass it by” if they see PS on the lid of their coffee cup.

PS: if you do happen to be topless when you buy your cup of boiling hot coffee, we would recommend putting a lid on it, especially if you are travelling.

 Steven Pacitti