SPE Industry Update
Sept. 29, 2010

Better bugs to make plastics
MIT Technology Review
A startup that has successfully engineered bacteria to make common industrial chemicals is now using its technology to engineer organisms to make renewable fuel. OPX Biotechnologies, based in Boulder, Colo., says its strains of E. coli can be used to convert sugar to acrylic acid — a key component of paints, diapers, and adhesives — at lower costs than making it from petroleum. The bacteria-based process produces 75 percent fewer carbon-dioxide emissions than making the same amount from oil, and a single commercial plant using the process could reduce petroleum consumption by over 500,000 barrels per year.More

Preparation and characterization of nanoclay-filled polymer blends
SPE Plastics Research Online
Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is attractive because of its high abrasion resistance, tensile and tear strength, flexibility, and shock-absorbing capabilities. However, it has certain disadvantages, including high cost, moderate thermal stability and mechanical strength, and limitations as regards to chemical resistance and processability. On the one hand, polypropylene (PP) is usually added to TPU to improve the thermal stability of the latter, as well as its chemical and mechanical properties (modulus, strength, hardness), processing performance and to reduce cost. On the other hand, TPU is blended with PP to improve the properties of PP (e.g., impact strength, adhesion and paintability/printability). Blends of TPU and PP are highly incompatible because of the compounds' large differences in polarity and the resulting high interfacial tensions.More

PetroChem Wire launches 'Repro/Regrind Report' to serve growing plastics recycling market
PR Newswire
PetroChem Wire (PCW), a daily U.S. petrochemical industry newsletter, announced the launch of "Repro/Regrind Report," a monthly market price publication that provides a snapshot of pricing trends for reprocessed and recycled plastic resins. According to numerous reports, during recent years the plastics recycling business has more than tripled. Consumer awareness and consumer recycling efforts have seen progressive growth as well, which means more materials are becoming available to recycle and put back into the market.More

Best practice tips for using PCR plastic revealed in new SPC publication
Greener Package
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), a project of GreenBlue, has released a comprehensive, 23-page report on the opportunities and challenges for using recycled content in plastic packaging applications. "Guidelines for Increasing Post Consumer Recycled Content in Plastic Packaging" addresses common issues and strategies for increasing recycled content in 27 varieties of common plastic packaging for beverage, dairy, electronic, household care and laundry, pharmaceutical, personal care and snack applications.More

Listing to help raise profile of GW Plastics
The Star
GW Plastics Holdings Bhd, which is en route for listing on Bursa Malaysia's Main Market on Oct. 18, is exploring opportunities to grow its overseas business and expand production facilities. GW Plastics, which was previously known as Great Wall Plastic Industries Bhd when it was first listed on the local bourse in 1995, is making a comeback to Bursa after it transferred its listing status to property developer, Encorp Bhd in 2003.More

Plant expansion prompted by demand for high-end polypropylene
Plastics Today
Growing demand for high-performance, specialty polypropylene (PP) in end uses including pipes, film and healthcare applications, has prompted supplier LyondellBasell to increase the capacity of its PP plant in Brindisi, Italy. The expansion is scheduled for completion in 2012, according to LyondellBasell (Rotterdam, Netherlands), and it will include the use of additional co-monomers such as hexene.More

Crude oil may fall as supplies climb, survey shows
Bloomberg Businessweek
Crude oil may fall this week on speculation that U.S. inventories will climb as fuel demand declines, a Bloomberg News survey showed. Seventeen of 30 analysts, or 57 percent, forecast crude oil will decline through Oct. 1. Nine respondents, or 30 percent, predicted little change, and four estimated prices will rise. Last week, 52 percent said crude would decrease.More

Recession is officially over, but anxiety lingers
The Washington Post
On the day that the Great Recession was officially declared to be part of history, President Obama confronted deepening angst from business leaders and ordinary Americans who have little faith that the recovery is for real. The determination that the U.S. recession ended in June 2009, made by a panel of private economists who are the arbiters of business cycles, confirms that the 18-month downturn was the longest recession of the post-World War II era.More

Manufacturing probably cooled this month: US economy preview
Manufacturing probably cooled in September and consumer spending stabilized last month, underscoring the Federal Reserve's forecast of "modest" U.S. growth in coming months, economists said before reports this week. The Institute for Supply Management's factory index fell to 54.5 from 56.3 in August, according to the median of 63 forecasts in a Bloomberg survey ahead of the Oct. 1 report. Household purchases rose 0.4 percent last month, the same as in July, Commerce Department figures may show.More

PE, PP prices rising, buyers say
Plastics News
Higher feedstock costs have sent North American polypropylene prices higher since Sept. 1, while a push for margin improvement has done the same for polyethylene prices in the region in that same time frame. Regional PE prices are up an average of 5 cents in that period, while PP prices have bumped up an average of 3 cents . The PE move reverses a trend in which high density PE and linear low density PE prices had fallen an average of 12 cents per pound since May 1.More