In an unsurprising move at the start of 2019, BASF and Avantium confirmed the end of their Synvina partnership two months after the pair had admitted to differences in opinion. Avantium will acquire BASF’s equity interest in the joint venture, which aims to commercialise technology that converts plant-based sugar into FDCA and plastics, such as polyethylenefuranoate (PEF).

As one partnership comes to an end, another is starting with machine manufacturer OPITZ securing a deal with the packaging division of Storopack to work on development projects in system automation.

Elsewhere, RPC Group extended the deadline for Apollo Global Management to make a firm offer to buy the company for a fourth time; US-based Atlas Holdings acquired North American rigid packaging distributor Saxco International; and Indorama Ventures Public Company (IVL) confirmed that it would be acquiring the PET business of Invista Resins & Fibers in Germany and certain intellectual property rights of Invista Textiles. IVL also agreed to acquire Custom Polymers’ PET recycling facility in Alabama, USA.

Still on the recycling front, UK consumers can now recycle their Pringles crisps (potato chips) containers after the Kellogg’s brand struck a nationwide deal with recycler TerraCycle, while retailers and producers of packaging in England faced up to the possibility of footing the bill for the recycling or disposal of their packaging waste under a government plan set to come into force in 2023.

A column in The Sunday Times newspaper suggested that the UK government’s plastics bag tax has failed to reduce the use of plastics and that alternative materials such as paper bags add to global warming. Political editor Dominic Lawson pointed out that British supermarkets are selling more than a billion ‘bags for life’ annually, which contain more than twice as much plastics as single-use plastics bags. It comes as environment secretary Michael Gove claimed that the big seven UK retailers reduced their sales of single-use bags from 1.3 billion to 1bn.

While Gove was busy applauding the UK’s position on marine litter reduction, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union reached a provisional agreement on the ambitious new measures proposed by the Commission to tackle marine litter at its source, targeting the ten plastics products most often found on our beaches as well as abandoned fishing gear.

The European flexible packaging consortium CEFLEX reached a new landmark recently after signing up its 100th member company, RPC bpi group. CEFLEX is targeting a comprehensive sustainability and circular economy roadmap for flexible packaging in Europe by 2020, which includes design guidelines and a robust approach to measure, demonstrate and communicate the value added by flexible packaging.

It comes as global cereal brands are said to be gradually switching to flexible packaging as their primary format, according to US-based converter AlliedFlex Technologies, as cartons continue to be replaced on environmental and sustainability grounds.

Cereal giant Kellogg Europe has set itself a target of 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025, as part of its Sustainability 2020 strategy. The brand aims to remove around 480 tonnes of non-recyclable packaging from its European supply chains each year.

Meanwhile, competition to import ethylene and ethylene derivatives into China will likely become tougher this year despite the country becoming increasingly self-sufficient. China is currently around 55 per cent self-sufficient in the ethylene value chain, says Wood Mackenzie, and this will rise to 60 per cent, but the country remains the largest importing country for ethylene, polyethylene, ethylene glycol and other ethylene derivatives.

Rotometrics has opened a Technical Service and Repair Centre in Suzhou, China, which will provide local support and becomes the first repair centre to be opened in the country by a Western die maker.

In other builds, industrial packaging producer Greif has installed an intermediate bulk container (IBC) line at its San Roque facility in Spain, which had spent the past 30 years manufacturing large steel drums, and Swiss firm Hoffmann Neopac is constructing its first US plant early this year, which will include a high-speed tube line.


And finally…

Polymer giant Covestro has teamed up with National Geographic Kids UK to create a range of content focusing on sustainable and responsible plastics use.

‘All About Plastic’ appeared in the January 2019 edition of the magazine and explored the history of plastics and looked at ways to use them positively. How refreshing to see our children presented with a positive spin on plastics whilst reinforcing the message about reducing waste and looking after our planet.