SPE Industry Update
April 20, 2011

Packaging designers face new challenges
Plastics News
While long-term sustainability remains a key concern for packaging manufacturers and retailers, cost-conscious and finicky consumers expect more bang for their bucks in a variety of areas, industrial designers and packaging engineers gathered at a recent seminar learned.More

SPE extends its reach in the plastics community
The Society of Plastics Engineers is known as the global "go-to" resource for plastics technical information, serving a community of 15,000 professionals in more than 70 countries with its publications, online technical library, conferences and database of plastics product and service providers. And SPE is also becoming known as more than just a resource; it is a true partner to the plastics industry — through its outreach efforts that begin at the student level, through funding of scholarships and grants, and continuing throughout the plastics professional's career, and through its burgeoning corporate affiliate program.

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

Nanocomposites improve performance of biodegradable polymers
SPE Plastics Research Online
In a world increasingly concerned about environmental issues, biodegradable polymers are attracting much interest within the academic and industrial community. Such materials often exhibit poor physical mechanical performance, rendering them unfavorable relative to more established non-biodegradable commodities, such as polyolefins. However, many polymer properties can be improved through appropriate composite and blending formulations. More

A new laminate compression test
SPE Plastics Research Online
Longitudinal compressive strength is an important property of laminated composites. Extensive modeling and experiments have focused on the fact that it is lower than longitudinal tensile strength. However, measurements remain especially demanding due to the importance of alignment, pronounced stress transfer effects, and susceptibility to premature buckling. Currently, the two primary standard test methods are shear loading American Society for Testing and Materials D3410 and combined (shear and end) loading compression ASTM D6641, which is becoming increasingly popular.More

US petrochemical prices see big gains in Q1
PR Newswire
Prices all along the U.S. petrochemical chain moved higher during the first quarter of 2011, but none more dramatically than ethylene, according to PetroChem Wire, a daily U.S. petrochemical industry newsletter. PCW's cash market assessments are used to settle the cleared NYMEX ethylene contracts.More

Saudi petrochemical exports rise on Asian demand, ethane output
Saudi Arabia, holder of the world's largest oil reserves, boosted petrochemical exports in the first two months of the year on rising demand from Asia and increased local production of ethane, a feedstock. The country shipped 4.65 million metric tons of petrochemicals from its ports in January and February, up 6.8 percent from 4.35 million a year earlier, Saudi Ports Authority said.More

New polymers rise to technical and legislative challenges
Engineer Live
The latest developments in polymer technology are aimed at meeting requirements for better blow molding, polyethylene nucleation and lightweight but strong under-the-bonnet applications. Sabic has announced that its high-performance HDPE ICP 5602 material for industrial containers is now commercially available.More

Plastic bags find new life on playground
The Des Moines Register
The Build With Bags program, aimed at turning Iowa's share of the 89 billion plastic bags used each year in the United States into picnic furniture, playground equipment and other products, celebrates its second year this Earth Day. More

India working on recycling infrastructure
Plastics News
Leaders of India's plastics industry say the country needs to work on improving waste management and recycling policies for plastics. Speaking at the Plast Avenues Summit in Mumbai, leaders said plastics have suffered from being identified with pollution and litter rather than on being useful products.More

Report reveals new trends in the food packaging industry
Packaging Digest
Women are 14 percent more likely than men to select environmentally-friendly packaging over non-"green," more-convenient alternatives, according to a recent study of 1,011 adults commissioned by the IP Solutions business of Thomson Reuters. Men surveyed were more apt to select products packaged to provide greater convenience.More

Metabolix grasping for profits in renewable plastics
Metabolix Inc. is betting biodegradable beach toys and agricultural mulch films will help it revolutionize the plastics industry, though the company's weak financial history is starting to try Wall Street's patience. Metabolix uses polyhydroxyalkanoate chemicals, or PHAs, to make plastics that decompose naturally. PHAs are found in plant cells and are eaten by bacteria.More

Synthetic fiber replacing talc in PP parts
Plastics Today
Lower density and improved scratch resistance are two of the key benefits possible when a plastics processor replaces talc fillers with a new reinforcing agent supplied by Milliken. The material actually was introduced last year but since then has started to gain traction, especially in use for automotive interior parts.More

Waste Management opens new green facility in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia's household recycling rate has hit its highest level in history. And with three sorting facilities already in the region, Waste Management Inc. held a formal opening last week for yet another - a $20 million operation in Northeast Philadelphia. A jubilant Mayor Nutter extolled the green values of recycling at the new facility and then accepted another kind of green.More

Fitch: High commodity inflation leads to risky pricing decisions for US packaged food companies
Packaging Digest
Actions taken by the large, diversified packaged food companies to manage high commodity prices should prevent significant margin deterioration, according to a new report issued by Fitch Ratings. Fitch expects companies to offset most of the commodity cost increases through a combination of higher net product pricing, cost-cutting and favorable mix changes over the near to immediate term.More

Singapore oil caverns aimed at end-users rather than traders
Underground oil storage being built on Singapore's Jurong Island will target oil processing companies as users rather than the trading community, an official at JTC Corp. said recently. "Our first priority is not for trading but to support manufacturers [of oil products and petrochemicals]," Heah Soon Poh, director of the state-owned infrastructure developer's biomedical and chemicals cluster, told Platts during a site visit.More

Yellowstone National Park turns plastic bottles into artificial turf
Yellowstone National Park is working with Dalton, Ga.-based Universal Textile Technologies to recycle plastic bottles generated by the park's 3.5 million annual visitors. Universal Textile is buying the recyclable plastic bottles that Yellowstone visitors discard each year and converting them into material used to manufacture carpet and synthetic turf products. More