plastics

Look for Winners and Losers in 2021

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. Lenin’s famous insight was highly relevant to 2020. It was full of such weeks as the coronavirus pandemic became a catalyst for major paradigm shifts in the economy. Of course, some sceptics still expect a quick V-shaped return to ‘business as usual’,

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Chemical industry has key role in helping to create a more sustainable world

The chemical industry has a critical role to play in enabling the world to “build back better” after the pandemic. That is the conclusion of the World Economic Forum’s Chemical and Advanced Materials Industry Action Group, for which I had the privilege of acting as an Expert Adviser. Its conclusions are as follows: “Where next?

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Local supply chains replace global trade as world starts to “do more with less”

Something quite dramatic is happening in the global economy.  Of course, Wall Street analysts still maintain that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will be over by the summer.  What else can they say, given their income mostly depends on persuading the public to buy shares? But anyone on Main Street knows that it will

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China’s plastic ban and recycling launch marks end of ‘business as usual’ for plastics industry

Paradigm shifts start slowly at first, and it is easy to miss them. But then one day, they suddenly become obvious, and it becomes a scramble to catch up. That’s what happened on the waste plastic issue last week, when China decided to take action. As official news agency, Xinhua, reported: “The policy measures proposed

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Europe’s auto sector suffers as Dieselgate and China’s downturn hit sales

Trade wars, Dieselgate and recession risk are having a major impact on the European auto industry, as I describe in my new video interview with ICIS Chemical Business deputy editor, Will Beacham. One key pressure point is created by the downturn in China’s auto industry. As the chart shows, it has been a fabulous growth

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There’s a great future for the European plastics industry in recycled plastic

Europe’s plastics industry is under major threat from the growing legislative and consumer backlash against plastic packaging. As with the global industry, its licence to operate is increasingly challenged by images of plastic rubbish polluting the world’s oceans, alongside photos of baby fish dying because their parents mistakenly fed them plastic instead of food. EU

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Stormy weather ahead for chemicals

Four serious challenges are on the horizon for the global petrochemical industry as I describe in my latest analysis for ICIS Chemical Business and in a podcast interview with Will Beacham of ICIS. The first is the growing risk of recession, with key markets such as autos, electronics and housing all showing signs of major

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IKEA heads into the circular world with furniture subscription trial

“Once upon a time, Granny and Grandad used to go to a large shop on the motorway to buy their furniture. They used to stagger around carrying Billy bookshelves and Dombas wardrobes, before treating themselves to Swedish meatballs in the canteen. And then Grandad would spend the rest of the weekend trying to assemble the

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Rising interest rates, volatile exchange rates, high oil prices and plastic waste challenge aromatics industry

Fears are rising about the risks of recession, as I discuss in a new one-page summary of the key issues facing the aromatics industry, ‘What does the future hold for Aromatics?‘.  Please click here to download it. These issues will also be key topics at next month’s 17th World Aromatics and Derivatives Conference, jointly organised with ICIS, […]

The post Rising interest rates, volatile exchange rates, high oil prices and plastic waste challenge aromatics industry appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

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Plastics recycling paradigm shift will create Winners and Losers

My new analysis for iCIS Chemical Business highlights the paradigm shift now underway in the plastics industry. A paradigm shift is underway in the plastics industry as public concern mounts over the impact of plastic waste on the oceans and the environment. For 30 years, plastics producers have primarily focused upstream on securing cost-competitive feedstock supply. […]

The post Plastics recycling paradigm shift will create Winners and Losers appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

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Saudi oil policy risks creating perfect storm for Aramco flotation

Good business strategies generally create good investments over the longer term. And so Aramco needs to ensure it has the best possible strategies, if it wants to maximise the outcome from its planned $2tn flotation. Unfortunately, the current oil price strategy seems more likely to damage its valuation, by being based on 3 questionable assumptions: Oil […]

The post Saudi oil policy risks creating perfect storm for Aramco flotation appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

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2018 will see Winners and Losers appear in plastics markets

Two major challenges face petrochemical and polymer producers and consumers in 2018: The likely disruption created by the arrival of the ethylene/polyethylene expansions in the US The growth of the circular economy and the need to dramatically increase recycling capacity My new interview with Will Beacham, deputy editor of ICIS Chemical Business, focuses on both […]

The post 2018 will see Winners and Losers appear in plastics markets appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

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Goodbye to “business as usual” model for plastics

Polymer markets face two major challenges in coming months. The most immediate is the arrival of the major US shale gas-based ethylene and polyethylene expansions. The longer-term, but equally critical challenge, comes from growing public concern over plastic waste, particularly in the ocean. The EU has set out its vision for a new plastics economy, where: “All plastic packaging is reusable or […]

The post Goodbye to “business as usual” model for plastics appeared first on Chemicals & The Economy.

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European petrochemical output still below 2004 – 2007 levels

The financial crisis began a decade ago, yet production of the key “building block products” for the European petrochemical industry has still not recovered to its pre-Crisis peak, as the chart shows (based on new APPE data):   Combined production of ethylene, propylene and butadiene (olefins) peaked at 39.7 million tonnes in 2007   A […]

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Trump, Xi have 100 days to avert US-China trade war

Last week’s summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping was initially overshadowed by Friday’s news of US missile strikes on Syria.  But from the details since released, it is clear the summit will likely have far-reaching impact on the global economy.  As US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross revealed afterwards, the […]

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4.5 million tonnes of new US polyethylene exports on front-line as War of Words hits US-China trade

“There isn’t anybody who knows what is going to happen in the next 12 months. We’ve never been here before. Things are out of control. I have never seen a situation like it.” This comment last month from former UK Finance Minister, Ken Clarke, aptly summarises the uncertainty facing the global economy. As I note in a new analysis, major policy changes are […]

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Midway Atoll becomes “plastic island” due to our throwaway society

Plastics have made an enormous contribution to improving our quality of life over the past 75 years.  Polyethylene (discovered in 1933), polypropylene, PVC, polystyrene, PET and many others have made our lives safer, and easier:   Plastic pipes have removed the risk of lead poisoning from our water, and helped to reduce water lost in […]

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Sustainability replaces globalisation as key driver for economy

2 weeks ago, India ratified the COP 21 Agreement.  This means the Agreement enters into force on 4 November, as 81 countries, responsible for more than 55% of greenhouse gas emissions, have now agreed to reduce emissions in line with the decisions made in Paris last December.  And last week saw another landmark Agreement, with 150 countries agreeing […]

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What If 3D Printing Was 100x Faster? | TED Talks

Major change is underway in manufacturing and supply chains.  China’s slowdown has exposed the myth that its demand would support ever-increasing production of commodities such as metals and oil.  As the Financial Times reported yesterday: “Back in the summer, Glencore’s combative chief executive Ivan Glasenberg led a chorus of mining executives in blaming speculative funds for driving […]

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China’s auto slowdown to push spare capacity into export markets

Where would the world’s auto industry, and its suppliers, have been without China in recent years?  And how will they manage now China’s demand for new cars is slowing fast?  These are the question troubling companies and investors as Q3 sales are analysed. The chart above shows the recent history of sales in the Top […]

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Europe can win despite age trends

We all know that Europe has an ageing population.  Germany and Italy, for example, have median ages of 45 years.  And fertility rates have been below replacement levels for 45 years, so the relative number of higher-spending young people is reducing.  Instead, there are more and more older people, as life expectancy at age 65 […]

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Saudi lets ‘market decide’ on oil prices to maximise local jobs

I was kindly invited last week to give a keynote address at the annual ME-TECH conference in Dubai.  Naturally, there was intense interest in my argument that oil prices were most unlikely to recover to the $100/bbl level. Instead, I suggested they would likely return to their long-term historical average of $33/bbl (in $2014).  And I argued that this would be good news […]

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Turkish plastics markets see imports fall for first time since 2008

Turkey is the blog’s “go-to” market when it wants to confirm trends in global markets.  The reason is that Turkey has a very successful downstream industry, but has failed to invest in upstream capacity.  This means it is essentially an opportunistic market from a sellers’ viewpoint. During good times, exporters will only divert product from […]

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Global chemical operating rates remain well below SuperCycle levels

The latest American Chemistry Council report on global production shows output was up 3% versus September 2012, and just 18% above average 2007 levels.  There was a mixed picture in the main Regions: Asia-Pacific was strongest, up 5.9%, with Japan accelerating as the weak yen helped its exports The Middle East continued to slow, and was up […]

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