Article | February 23, 2020
The Trump EPA has worked very hard to render this long-awaited update of its approach to reviewing new chemicals under TSCA an empty exercise. Despite Administrator Wheeler’s promises in January 2019 to the contrary: EPA has still failed to provide any legal or scientific justification for its Working Approach. EPA provided no actual response to the many detailed comments it received on its 2017 framework, instead issuing a 1.5-page document that dismisses many of the comments merely as having “stemmed from a misunderstanding of the Agency’s intent.”
Article | May 13, 2021
NICE WORK, if you get can get it. A trucking company in Fort Worth, Texas, is offering to pay experienced drivers $14,000 a week – $728,000 a year – as the US struggles with a nationwide shortage of truckers or lorry drivers.
This reminds me of perhaps an apocryphal tale, from the height of the last Australian mining boom. Before iron ore prices collapsed in late 2014, there was a story about workers at mining site road junctions who operated manual “Stop and Go” signs. They were said to be earning more than Australian dollar (A$) 200,000 a year.
Before you pack in your job as, say, a petrochemicals sales manager and head to Texas or mine sites in Western Australia, there is the risk that when you arrive at the door of your new prospective employer, the bubble might have already burst. This is assuming we are in bubble conditions.The pressure is clearly building in petrochemicals and other commodity markets as prices in some regions remain at record highs or continue to rise.
Today’s prices are the results of shortages of commodities supply (for example in petrochemicals, an outcome of the US winter storms), very strong demand and supply chain disruptions.I am beginning to believe that the latter is the biggest reason for commodity price inflation which is feeding through into sharp rises in the cost of finished goods – and a lack of goods availability.
It is delivering and manufacturing enough stuff that seems to be at the heart of today’s problems due to shortages of everything from container freight space and semiconductors to wooden pallets, tin cans, metal drums, cardboard – and US truck drivers.
Article | May 19, 2021
The market size for polymeric and resin binders in the global printing ink marketwas estimated to be over 1,200,000 MT in 2020, with a CAGR of about five percent. A major driver of this growth comes from the packaging industry, due to increases in consumer spending and online shopping, as well as demand for processed and packaged foods and beverages.
In addition, increased use of water-based inks is promoting market growth, off-setting environmental and health concerns regarding solvent-based inks in addition to strict environmental protection policies. Water-based inks are projected to overtake solvent-based inks due to environmental regulations, the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the pressroom, and improvements in overall print quality.
Ink formulations are complex mixtures, consisting of four basic component classes: pigments, polymeric binder resins, solvents or an aqueous dispersant media, and additives, such as surfactants, waxes, and rheology modifiers that enhance print quality. The purpose of the resin binder is to disperse and carry the ink pigment to the substrate, stabilize the pigment and additives dispersion to prevent settling, and provide print properties such as ink transfer behavior, setting, and drying characteristics. The binder also contributes surface appearance and gloss, strength and flexibility, chemical and solvent resistance, and also rub resistance. Ink binders can be categorized into the following polymer and resin types: acrylics, polyurethanes, polyamides, modified resins, hydrocarbon resins, and modified cellulosics.
Article | June 15, 2021
IT FEELS LIKE several lifetimes ago. If you recall, way back in November-December 2019 Asian variable cost integrated naphtha-based polyethylene (PE) margins turned negative because of the increase in US capacity.
Then in January the following year, deep Asian and Middle East operating rate cuts returned some order to the market. Then, bang, as we all know, the pandemic arrived and turned everything on its head.
The pandemic has, in my view, accentuated trends that were already well underway. I believe this means that the supply-driven downturn that started in late 2019 will not return.Long before coronavirus upended everyone’s lives, PE demand was becoming increasingly divorced from GDP growth because of the shifting nature of end-use demand.
Booming internet sales was, I believe, a major factor behind the split between the growth of the overall economies in the developed world plus China and PE demand.The average product bought online is dropped 17 times because of the large number of people involved in the logistics chain, according to Forbes.
This had led to a surge in demand for protective packaging made not from PE and other polymers such as polypropylene, expandable polystyrene and PET films (I will look at their demand growth prospects in later posts).Despite sustainability pressures, the scale of demand for stuff bought online translated to a lot more consumption of virgin polymers.