SPE Industry Update
March 30, 2011

Unconventional gas a boon to ExxonMobil's plastics profits
Plastics Today
ExxonMobil is riding an unprecedented gap in the price differential between crude oil and natural gas, as well as an explosion in its own gas holdings, to record profits in its plastics/chemicals business, while nonintegrated producers or those that rely on petroleum-derived naphtha get squeezed.More

ANTEC® 2011: Expectations of Renewal
By Michael Tolinski
During the first five days of May in Boston, the new spring growth in the region will be a fitting backdrop for the signs of economic renewal sought by ANTEC attendees. Positive economic signs are pointing to a "sunnier" business climate for the event, compared with recent years. One survey reported by Plastics News indicated that 45 percent of reader/responders in 2010 had the attitude that the economy was "very" or "somewhat" favorable. This percentage was greater than the percentage of "unfavorable" responses; and it was much greater than the only 22 percent "favorable" responses in the publication's 2009 survey.

This year's event will couple a perhaps cautiously optimistic mood with the determination of an industry to become even more relevant in the areas of medicine, energy efficiency, and "green" materials. Here is a preview of some of ANTEC 2011's highlights and themes.

This article appears in the March 2011 issue of SPE's Plastics Engineering magazine.More

Freeze-drying improves crystallization of biodegradable polymers
SPE Plastics Research Online
Poly(l-lactide) (PLLA) is one of the most common biodegradable polymers, predominantly used in food and consumer good packaging. Unfortunately, PLLA suffers from poor crystallizability. This limits its broader use because it in turn affects, for example, polymer modulus and annealing time. Thus, practical techniques for modifying its crystallizability are needed. The addition of nucleating agents can promote PLLA crystallization, but these additives impose an environmental burden. More

UK's first mixed plastics recycling facility opened
Waste Management World
VideoBrief Biffa Polymers - formally Greenstar WES - has opened the UK's first fully integrated plastic packaging sorting and recycling facility. In January 2010 the facility was awarded £1.187 million in funding by the Waste & Resources Action Program, following WRAP research which demonstrated not only the environmental benefits, but also the commercial and technological viability for mixed plastics recycling. More

Global plastics associations take action on marine litter
Packaging Digest
As part of their overarching contribution to providing sustainable solutions, representatives of plastics organizations from around the globe released a "Global Declaration for Solutions on Marine Litter." The declaration, announced at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference in Honolulu, describes steps that the industries will take — and suggests approaches and platforms for global cooperation and future partnerships.More

Plastics consumption to triple in India in 10 years
Business Standard
The per capita consumption of plastic in India doubled from 4 kg in 2006 to 8 kg in 2010, and would touch the global average of 27 kg per person by 2020, according to industry representatives. Among the factors driving this growth are the increasing uses of plastics in packaging, infrastructure, agriculture, automotives, health care and FMCG segments.More

Scotland seeks to improve recycling record with pioneering 'carbon metric'
The Guardian
Councils in Scotland are to dramatically reorganize their recycling schemes by targeting materials that cause the most damage to the climate, such as food waste, textiles and plastics. From 2013, councils and householders will be asked to recycle far more of the waste that has a "high carbon impact" and is more environmentally damaging, under a new "carbon metric". Materials with lower carbon benefits from recycling, such as paper, will become less important.More

Plastics packaging: Foaming process cut costs in rigid PS sheet
Modern Plastics Worldwide
Polystyrene supplier Styron introduced its CO2RE processing technology at last fall's K show in Düsseldorf, Germany, and now can point to some concrete commercial successes. The process involves injection of liquid carbon dioxide as a physical foaming agent into the polymer melt during extrusion of rigid PS sheet. The technology is available globally.More

Belgium's plastics managers worry over resin prices
European Plastics News
Rising plastics resin prices could put recovery in the Belgian plastics industry under pressure, according to Federplast.be, the country's association representing manufacturers of plastic and rubber products. The organization this week released the results of a survey it has carried out among its members, which shows that plastics and rubber industry production volume grew by 5.7 percent in 2010.More

Oil and gas producers face higher tax on profits
The Wall Street Journal
The U.K. government promised to help people facing rising motoring costs by abolishing a plan of regular increases to fuel taxes and instead imposing a hefty tax increase on the profits of oil and gas producers. Consumer groups welcomed the move at a time when average real incomes in the U.K. are declining, but oil industry experts warned that the tax increase will discourage companies from operating in the U.K. North Sea, where production and investment are already in long-term decline.More

Nearly all laid-off Detroit 3 workers are back to work
Automotive News
The Detroit 3 are on the verge of having full employment at their U.S. operations after several years of hardship and layoffs, UAW officials said today at the union's special bargaining convention in Detroit. UAW Vice President Joe Ashton said the final 2,000 hourly workers at General Motors on layoff will be back to work by September.More