PE Spot Prices Down; More Contract Price Reductions Likely To Surface

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 25. November 2014

Though not directly confirmed, industry sources indicate that at least one other PE supplier, Westlake Chemicals, Houston, is offering a 3ȼ/lb November contract price reduction, joining Nova Chemicals, Calgary, Alberta (U.S. office in Moon Township, Penn.), in putting into effect the first price reduction in two years.


As previously reported, since the Nov. 2012, 2ȼ/lb decrease, PE prices have moved up 21ȼ/lb—a period during which PE suppliers have enjoyed hefty profit margins. Industry sources, such as Mike Burns, v.p. for PE at purchasing consultants Resin Technology, Inc., has stressed that North American PE suppliers will need to address the global price that is set by the price of oil and make downward adjustments, citing the quickly changed PE market dynamics that surfaced from the unexpected drop in oil and naphtha prices,


Meanwhile, Michael Greenberg, CEO of The Plastics Exchange, reports that the spot PE market has been pressured as availability for most grades swelled. “Asking prices in the Houston market continue to fall as suppliers chase the elusive export order. While much of this surplus material will move offshore, noting such a large delta between Houston and domestic prices, some resin will surely stick around the U.S.” Greenberg, for one, thinks that other PE suppliers will come through with domestic contract price reductions before long, in view of changing market fundamentals and the very strong likelihood of continued weakness.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.










Bayer Exploring Use of CO2 to Make Plastics

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 25. November 2014

As part of its Dream Polymers research project launched in 2009, Bayer MaterialScience researchers have been exploring the use of CO2 as a new raw material for making plastics, among other uses.  More recently they have succeeded in significantly reducing the need for petroleum in a polyurethane foam application.


Moreover, researchers have demonstrated that the new process also extends the range of plastics that CO2 can be used to produce, according to project manager Christoph Gurtler. “For example, it is now possible to manufacture thermoplastic polyurethanes, films and casting elastomers in this way…for applications such as automotive interiors, cable sheathing and sporting goods such as ski boots,” he says.


The use of CO2 in this process is twofold. First, the greenhouse gas in incorporated directly into a new kind of precursor (polyoxymethylene polycarbonate polyol), replacing 20% of the petroleum. Second, it is used indirectly, producing a chemical that is incorporated into the precursor for a further 20% savings in petroleum. According to Gurtler, the technology has been used to produce a key component (the polyol) for high-quality polyurethane foam for mattresses which is near commercialization. “The proportion of petroleum in this chemical is 80%. We have now succeeded in reducing the petroleum content for making plastics to just 60%,” he says. 


This long-range Dream Polymers research project is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education & Research, as well as the CAT Catalytic Center, Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology. 


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.


Get Ready for the Extrusion '15 Conference

By: James Callari 21. November 2014

If you are involved in extrusion as either a processor or supplier, it’s not too early to mark your calendar for Nov. 2-3, 2015. That’s when Plastics Technology will host the first-ever conference devoted to extrusion. The Extrusion 2015 Conference will take place on those dates in North Carolina at The Omni Charlotte Hotel. 


Of course, many other types of extrusion-related conferences have been held over the years. In fact, we at Plastics Technology have worked on quite a few. But these have been specific, focusing, for instance, on film/sheet; medical tubing; compounding; and biopolymers, to name a few.


There is a certain logic to organizing a conference along the boundaries of a very specific extrusion process, as there are pronounced differences among them. However, there are quite a few common elements as well. The objective of The Extrusion 2015 Conference is to combine the “specific” aspects of extrusion with the “general” ones.


Here’s how. The morning sessions on each day of this two-day event will be devoted to technical and business issues of interest to any type of extrusion processor. So there will be presentations on topics such as materials; additives; screw design; high-speed processing; energy efficiency; sustainability; filtration, blending, drying and conveying; process simulation; training; size reduction; recycling; resin characterization; foaming; and more.


On each afternoon, there will be concurrent breakout sessions devoted to three specific types of extrusion processes in which your business likely falls: Film/Sheet; Pipe, Profile, Tubing; and Compounding. In these sessions, presentations will dig deeper into topics such as barrier film; thin-gauge sheet; multi-lumen tubing; high-speed compounding; and more.


The plan is for The Extrusion 2015 Conferenced to be a yearly event modeled after the Molding Conference our parent company, Gardner Business Media, purchased last year from Executive Conference Management. Next year will mark the Molding conference’s 25-year anniversary.


We recognize you’re likely more pressed for time now than ever. We also know you have a lot of outside events competing for that time. And on top of that, next year is an NPE year. But our intention is to organize The Extrusion 2015 Conference in such a way so that it’s the only conference you’ll need to attend next year—and beyond—if your business is pumping hot polymer through a die to form a part.


In the months ahead, please be on the lookout in our magazine, this website, and in your own inbox for more information on this groundbreaking event. Or feel free to email me at

Three Entities Awarded For Plastics Recycling Innovations

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. November 2014

Last Friday, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced the winners of the 2014 Innovation in Plastics Recycling Awards, which aim to highlight innovations in the plastics recycling industry by recognizing companies and individuals who have brought to fruition new technologies, products and initiatives to the marketplace.


This year’s winners include two leading recycling companies and a nonprofit with the mission to equip businesses with the science and resources to make products more sustainable. “Their innovations will help expand the ongoing growth in plastics recycling and make more recycled plastics available to manufacturers,” said ACC’s v.p. of plastics Steve Russell.


Geo-Tech Polymers LLC, Westerville, Ohio, has developed a patented process for removing coatings such as ink, chrome, paint, films, and labels from used plastics prior to reprocessing. If not removed, these coatings can impact the value or utility of recycled plastics. Independent analysis also demonstrates that the new process leaves no residual chemicals. Geo-Tech claims its process is decreasing the amount of plastics going to landfill while also increasing the number of applications available for recycled plastics.


QRS Recycling, Louisville, Kentucky, has established Plastics Container Recovery Facilities (PRFs) to collect plastics that local Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) do not recycle for various reasons. The company established PRFs within close proximity to numerous MRFs and equips them with sophisticated, sorting, washing, and grinding equipment to recover individual polymers. These PRFs provide a domestic market for plastics that previously were most often exported, and they capture plastics that could otherwise require significant processing or sorting equipment. PRFs divert more plastics from the waste stream and provide manufacturers with high-quality, post-consumer recycled resins, including PET, PE and PP. The company is engaged in ongoing efforts to capture PVC and PS as well.


GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Charlottesville, Virginia, as developed a recycling label for packaging that clearly communicates recycling instructions to consumers. The Coalition created the How2Recycle Label in response to variations in recycling programs, unclear labeling, and inaccurate recyclability claims that impeded recycling. As one example, PE bags, films, and wraps can carry the Store Drop-off Label to inform consumers to recycle them at nearby drop-off locations instead of curbside. Major companies and brand owners such as Sealed Air, Target, Kimberly Clark, Clorox, and several others use the Store Drop-off Label on their products, which could significantly increase plastic film recycling.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.



Left-to-Right: Craig Jung, Brokerage, QRS Recycling; Kelly Lahvic, Project Associate, GreenBlue; Gordon Jones, Director of Manufacturing, Geo-Tech Polymers; Ronald Whaley, CEO, Geo-Tech Polymers.

Two New Alliances in Microcellular Foams

By: Matthew H. Naitove 19. November 2014

Trexel, Inc., Wilmington, Mass., recently announced two new partnerships with Milacron and Lubrizol. One agreement allows Milacron LLC, Batavia, Ohio, to incorporate Trexel’s MuCell microcellular foam technology in its injection and blow molding equipment under the Milacron, Ferromatik, Uniloy, and Mold-Masters brands, while transferring the operating rights under Trexel’s patents to the machine buyer without any added fees or costs.


Trexel had a previous license agreement with Milacron back in 1999, allowing Milacron to provide MuCell-compatible screws and barrels on its injection machines, but it had become dormant in subsequent years. This revival of the relationship allows Milacron to supply turnkey MuCell systems, including MuCell gas dosing equipment.


Meanwhile, in partnership with Lubrizol Engineered Polymers, Wickliffe, Ohio, Trexel helped develop BounCell-X, a new high-performance TPU foam technology utilizing Lubrizol’s Estane TPUs. This plasticizer-free, low-density thermoplastic foam has a thin solid skin for durability and ability to utilize regrind or post-consumer recycle due to the absence of crosslinking agents or chemical blowing agents. BounCell-X can achieve a broad range of hardness and energy absorption/return for use in sports and recreation applications.


In addition, Trexel revealed that it has been working with Boston-based New Balance Athletic shoe, Inc. for more than four years, during which New Balance has used MuCell technology to provide shock absorption in running-shoe components (photo). Today, New Balance uses MuCell-molded mid-sole and heel components in over 1 million pairs of running shoes annually.

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