Why the Chemical Industry Is Ready to Get Rid of the Middleman

Disruption has been a major topic for industries around the globe over the last decade. Technology is changing, and the chemical industry is now ready to finally let go of the middleman. The middleman was a vital aspect of chemical supply chains, but in today’s age of authenticated systems, verified user credentials, advanced compliance measures, and transparency, the middleman’s value in the chemical world is declining. In fact, consider how a marketplace for chemical sales, such as ChemDirect, could replace the middlemen altogether and help buyers improve authenticity and productivity with less cost and hassle.

Spotlight

Specialty Minerals Inc.

Specialty Minerals Inc. (SMI) is the world's leading producer of precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) for the global paper industry. What started in 1986 as a concept to supply on-site PCC at a papermill has grown into a network of over 50 facilities in 18 countries around the world. This phenomenal growth can be attributed to the papermaker's need to increase paper quality while lowering production costs. The popularity of PCC as a filler in uncoated woodfree (freesheet) paper in the early years soon spread to virtually all applications of graphic papers and paperboard. Our PCC now helps papermakers manufacture some of the highest quality publication papers, newsprint and coated boxboards. Precipitated calcium carbonate can be found in paper products you use everyday, from magazines, annual reports, daily newspaper inserts and envelopes to pizza boxes, ink jet papers, coupons and myriad other paper items.

OTHER ARTICLES
Chemical Management

Resin and Polymeric Binders for Inks

Article | July 22, 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.

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Chemical Technology

Global polyethylene demand boom likely, increasing the sustainability challenge

Article | August 8, 2022

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.

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Chemical Technology

We need a global agreement that sets targets for reducing plastic waste

Article | July 14, 2022

What follows is an entirely personal take on the challenge of plastic waste and does not represent the views of ICIS or any other expert opinion I have sought out. The views are put forward in the spirit of debate as we move forward, as an industry, to solve the crisis of plastic waste.

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Chemical Management

The supply-chain inflation threat to petrochemicals demand

Article | May 9, 2021

Petrochemicals themselves remain in short supply. This is partly because of reduced feedstock from refineries, a consequence of the pandemic-related collapse in transportation fuels demand.Global petrochemical supply is still edging back to something like normal following the US winter storms in February, during which most US capacity was shut down. A point of discussion is whether containers will become available in the right places at the right prices to relieve tightness in the European polyethylene (PE) market, once US supply has normalised. The container issue is making it difficult to move PE and polypropylene (PP) cargoes from Asia to Europe.Market intelligence from the US-based ICIS CDI team indicates that enough container freight space will be available to resume significant shipments of US PE to Europe, albeit at high prices. It will be several more weeks before domestic pipelines have been refilled, enabling US producers to refocus on exports, added CDI.

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Spotlight

Specialty Minerals Inc.

Specialty Minerals Inc. (SMI) is the world's leading producer of precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) for the global paper industry. What started in 1986 as a concept to supply on-site PCC at a papermill has grown into a network of over 50 facilities in 18 countries around the world. This phenomenal growth can be attributed to the papermaker's need to increase paper quality while lowering production costs. The popularity of PCC as a filler in uncoated woodfree (freesheet) paper in the early years soon spread to virtually all applications of graphic papers and paperboard. Our PCC now helps papermakers manufacture some of the highest quality publication papers, newsprint and coated boxboards. Precipitated calcium carbonate can be found in paper products you use everyday, from magazines, annual reports, daily newspaper inserts and envelopes to pizza boxes, ink jet papers, coupons and myriad other paper items.

Related News

NGOs file suit over transparency of TSCA new chemicals programme

Chemical Watch | March 18, 2020

A coalition of NGOs has sued the US EPA over an alleged lack of transparency in the TSCA new chemicals programme, which "thwart[s] the ability of the public to be informed and to provide input". According to a complaint filed by five environmental nonprofits in federal court today, the EPA has operated its TSCA premanufacture review process in a "black box, denying the public information to which they are legally entitled". Having access to timely information, they contend, is necessary to ensure the members they represent "are able to provide input on the potential risks of new chemicals and the need for protections from those risks prior to completion of EPA’s reviews." And they therefore have asked the court to ensure that the EPA complies with TSCA’s disclosure provisions, including by requiring that it:

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ACC to Trump, governors: Keep chemical industry going during coronavirus crisis

S&P Global | March 18, 2020

The US chemical industry's trade group told President Donald Trump and state governors this week that its sector must maintain operations as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to ensure supply of chemicals needed for disinfectants, plastics for food preservation and medical equipment, and staples like diapers and soap. "The role of chemistry is particularly important today, as chemicals enable countless products that will be needed to support good hygiene and treat those who are infected with the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead," American Chemistry Council President and CEO Chris Jahn said in a letter to Trump and governors late Tuesday. Efforts to hinder the spread of coronavirus have included cancellations of major sporting events, concerts, conferences, parades, and other large gatherings, as well as closures of bars and limiting restaurants to takeout and deliveries. Companies have increasingly sent employees to work from their homes, while hospitals, grocery stores, and drug stores work to keep up with demand for care and products.

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How small chemical company leaders are dealing with the coronavirus

C&EN | March 17, 2020

As measures to contain the coronavirus—SARS-CoV-2—sweep across the US, the heads of privately owned chemical and instrument companies find themselves in uncharted territory trying to keep their companies going and their employees safe. C&EN reached out to CEOs of several such firms to learn what they are doing to keep business moving forward. We heard stories about setbacks, as expected supplies didn’t come through, but also small triumphs, as needed safety equipment was finally found. Overall, these leaders are keeping a close eye on supplies while planning for the real possibility that orders will drop in the coming months. Keeping staff healthy and maintaining continuity in customer service are the top priorities at Boron Specialties. “We are a pretty small facility, seven people &on-site&, so as best as we can we’re isolating,” CEO and founder Beth Bosley says.

Read More

NGOs file suit over transparency of TSCA new chemicals programme

Chemical Watch | March 18, 2020

A coalition of NGOs has sued the US EPA over an alleged lack of transparency in the TSCA new chemicals programme, which "thwart[s] the ability of the public to be informed and to provide input". According to a complaint filed by five environmental nonprofits in federal court today, the EPA has operated its TSCA premanufacture review process in a "black box, denying the public information to which they are legally entitled". Having access to timely information, they contend, is necessary to ensure the members they represent "are able to provide input on the potential risks of new chemicals and the need for protections from those risks prior to completion of EPA’s reviews." And they therefore have asked the court to ensure that the EPA complies with TSCA’s disclosure provisions, including by requiring that it:

Read More

ACC to Trump, governors: Keep chemical industry going during coronavirus crisis

S&P Global | March 18, 2020

The US chemical industry's trade group told President Donald Trump and state governors this week that its sector must maintain operations as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to ensure supply of chemicals needed for disinfectants, plastics for food preservation and medical equipment, and staples like diapers and soap. "The role of chemistry is particularly important today, as chemicals enable countless products that will be needed to support good hygiene and treat those who are infected with the coronavirus in the weeks and months ahead," American Chemistry Council President and CEO Chris Jahn said in a letter to Trump and governors late Tuesday. Efforts to hinder the spread of coronavirus have included cancellations of major sporting events, concerts, conferences, parades, and other large gatherings, as well as closures of bars and limiting restaurants to takeout and deliveries. Companies have increasingly sent employees to work from their homes, while hospitals, grocery stores, and drug stores work to keep up with demand for care and products.

Read More

How small chemical company leaders are dealing with the coronavirus

C&EN | March 17, 2020

As measures to contain the coronavirus—SARS-CoV-2—sweep across the US, the heads of privately owned chemical and instrument companies find themselves in uncharted territory trying to keep their companies going and their employees safe. C&EN reached out to CEOs of several such firms to learn what they are doing to keep business moving forward. We heard stories about setbacks, as expected supplies didn’t come through, but also small triumphs, as needed safety equipment was finally found. Overall, these leaders are keeping a close eye on supplies while planning for the real possibility that orders will drop in the coming months. Keeping staff healthy and maintaining continuity in customer service are the top priorities at Boron Specialties. “We are a pretty small facility, seven people &on-site&, so as best as we can we’re isolating,” CEO and founder Beth Bosley says.

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