As the fallout of M&G Chemicals’ bankruptcy continues to impact the polymers business in North America, a trio of petrochemical stalwarts came together to buy the incomplete PET complex in Texas, US for more than $1.1 billion. Called Corpus Christi Polymers LLC, the joint venture is formed of Thailand’s Indorama Ventures (IVL), Mexico’s Alpek and Taiwan’s Far Eastern New Century. If completed, the firms will own a 1.1 million tonne a year PET plant and an associated 1.3m-tonne purified terephthalic acid (PTA) facility.
In a month of significant deals, Coveris confirmed plans to sell its Americas packaging business to TC Transcontinental for $1.32bn as the former proceeds with its strategy to focus on European operations. Meanwhile, AkzoNobel sold its Specialty Chemicals business to The Carlyle Group for €101.bn ($12.4bn) as the company focuses on its Paints and Coatings business.
Bain Capital Private Equity agreed to buy World Wide Packaging (WWP), a provider of cosmetic packaging components, plastics tubes and formulation/filling technologies in New Jersey, USA, while packaging converter Sonoco confirmed the $150 million purchase of Highland Packaging Solutions, a US-based producer of thermoformed plastics packaging for fresh produce and dairy products. And Constantia Flexibles will acquire a majority shareholding in Indian film-based laminates producer Creative Polypack.
IVL was very busy as it was also in the process of acquiring a 100 per cent stake in M&G Polimeros Brazil via its subsidiary Indorama Ventures Spain. The plant in Ipojuca has capacity for 550,000 tonnes of PET a year.
And IVL was not the only upstream firm building its capacity, as Saudi Aramco and Total SA signed a memorandum of understanding to build a petrochemical complex in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, which will comprise a mixed-feed steam cracker with a capacity of 1.5m tonnes a year of ethylene and related petrochemical units.
Polyolefins producer Borealis has signed a joint development agreement (JDA) with United Chemical Company for the development of a world-scale polyethylene production project integrated with an ethane cracker and based in the Republic of Kazakhstan. Borealis’ outgoing chief executive Mark Garrett signed the JDA.
Building on a somewhat smaller scale were US-based Riverdale Global, which is soon to finish its $4m liquid colourants and additives facility in North Carolina, Constantia Flexibles, which is investing in new technology at its flexible packaging subsidiary in Vietnam in order to expand its portfolio, and Agr International, which is opening a sales and service centre in Mexico.
In Japan, Nippon Closure Company, a subsidiary of Toyo Seikan Group Holdings, is constructing a plastics closures factory on the site of its Komaki Plant, north of Nagoya. It is set to open in January 2019 and taps into growing demand for plastics closures in the region.
Fellow Japanese firm Toppan Printing Company has moved Sumio Ezaki from his role as chief executive of Toppan USA to manage the company’s western Japan division. Replacing him in Georgia, USA, is Masa Tatewaki, who had served as vice president since 2014.
Also on the move is Michael Feltes, who moved from Engel in Austria to become president of sales and service at Wintec, the China-based manufacturing arm of the injection moulding machine maker. Feltes previously held positions in tool building in Shanghai, Suzhou and Wuxi for more than seven years.
Still in China, Klöckner Pentaplast’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Films Division, kp Pharma, has completed the expansion of its Suzhou, China facility, while Petainer outlined plans to expand its operations in Europe and Russia in response to increased demand for its PET products. Later this year will also see a final decision by petrochemicals giant ExxonMobil on a potential polypropylene production expansion on the US Gulf Coast.
Statistically speaking, the recycling rate for plastics packaging is performing pretty well, with it passing the 40 per cent mark in 2016, according to the European Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisation (EPRO) in Canada. This surpassed the EU’s minimum target of 22.5 per cent. In fact, EU 28+2 recycled 40.9 per cent of its 16.7m tonnes of plastics packaging waste in 2016, which equated to 6.8m tonnes. This contrasts with the rate of 39.5 per cent in 2014.
However, The London Assembly Environment Committee published a report that labelled the UK capital city’s recycling rate as “rubbish” before making a series of robust recommendations to improve London’s waste management. It said that household recycling rates in London are below the national average.
A flexible and reclosable alternative to the non-returnable PET beakers commonly used by airlines for water has been launched by Germany’s Krones. The droplet-shaped PET bottle holds 20cl of water, weighs 4.4g and can be produced using a standard blow-moulding machine that is also suitable for light-weight formats. Krones believes that it is more attractive and easier-to-handle than the beakers.
Is it a flight of fancy for PET, or an idea set to take-off?