Canada works on new regulations after ban on single-use plastics; Dow to decide on Fort Saskatchewan net-zero cracker by year´s end; LyondellBasell begins commissioning activities for world´s biggest PO, oxyfuels plant

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LyondellBasell´s plant in La Porte, Texas. Image courtesy of LyondellBasell

Canada works on new regulations after ban on single-use plastics

Canadian authorities have started work on regulations to demand a minimum 50% recycled content in plastic packaging by 2030, said Isabelle Maheu, spokesperson of the Environment and Climate Change Canada, an agency of the government of Canada for the environment.

There is also current work “on labelling rules for recyclability claims for plastics,” she told Reuters Events Downstream by email in late July.

Canada recently banned six common plastics that are for the most part used just once and made with materials difficult to collect and recycle, like straws. The start of the ban, which was to come into effect late last year, was postponed into this year.

Canada intensified efforts to reduce plastic waste after China halted plastic waste imports about four years ago. Part of that effort was to promote new ways to solve the plastic waste problem. 

“Since 2018, the Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenges has awarded nearly $19 million in grants to small and medium-sized enterprises to develop new technologies that tackle plastic waste,” Maheu said.

“The challenges have addressed food packaging, construction waste, and improved compostability of bioplastics,” she said.

Other areas examined include “next generation bio-based foam insulation, textiles, the filtration and monitoring of microplastics, and most recently, recycling and compostability of personal protective equipment,” Maheu added. 

Representatives of the Canadian plastic resin industry through the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) have expressed disappointment at the ban but see some relief in the government just banning domestic consumption, not export.

Dow´s decision on Fort Saskatchewan net-zero cracker on track by end of year

James Fitterling, CEO of Dow, said during the company´s second-quarter earnings discussion on July 21, 2022 that Dow has advanced as planned on work for a December decision on whether the Midland, Michigan company will build an emissions-free ethylene and polyethylene complex in Alberta, Canada.

“Formal resource loading, vendor selection and project investment decisions by year-end all on track,” Fitterling said.

Dow said on Oct. 6, 2021 it planned to triple its ethylene and polyethylene capacity in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta and turn the asset into a net-zero complex.

If company directors approve it, the Alberta expansion would increase Dow’s ethylene and polyethylene global production capacity by 15%. 

Dow also said that there is work underway to develop detailed plans to reduce CO2 emissions in Europe and the Americas.

“For example, in Packaging & Specialty Plastics, our 150-kiloton FCDh pilot plant in Louisiana is expected to start up in the fourth quarter of this year. In Industrial Intermediates & Infrastructure, our alkoxylates capacity investments are on track to start up in the second half of this year,” Fitterling said.

The plan for Fort Saskatchewan is to use storage of CO2 infrastructure from third parties. Dow, along with other refining and chemical companies, is working on a study of carbon capture for the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Dow also said that it agreed with a company named Mura Technology to build recycling facilities in the U.S. and Europe. These projects would add up to 600,000 tons per year of plastic waste recycling capacity by 2030, Fitterling added.

LyondellBasell begins commissioning activities for world´s biggest PO, oxyfuels plant

LyondellBasell started commissioning “for its largest growth investment in the third quarter” 2022 that will be the construction of a propylene oxide and oxyfuels facility in the U.S. Gulf Coast, the company´s CEO Peter Vanacker said.

“The worldscale U.S. Gulf Coast propylene oxide and oxyfuels facility will deliver needed capacity to meet the rising demand for polyurethanes and high-octane, clean-burning oxyfuels,” said Vanacker, according to the company´s second quarter earnings release on July 29, 2022.

Polyurethanes can be used for insulation, windmill blades and light-weight vehicles, Dow said. They are commonly used for mattresses and any cushioning, including automotive seats.

“We expect our new propylene oxide capacity will provide a meaningful addition to our earnings starting in 2023 and help contribute toward a more sustainable world,” said Vanacker, who started as CEO of the company on May 23.

Vanacker replaced former CEO Bhavesh Patel, who resigned last year to take over in January the position of CEO of W.R. Grace, a maker of specialty chemicals like coatings and sealants.

LyondellBasell had said before that the project represented the world´s largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant.

The PO/TBA Project is part of LyondellBasell’s $5-billion expansion in the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to the company´s website.

The PO/TBA plant construction is in the company’s Channelview, Texas complex and associated to an ethers unit in nearby Pasadena. Annual capacity will be 470,000 tonnes of PO and one million tonnes of TBA.

Construction started in 2018 and was about 30% advanced at the time the Covid pandemic forced postponements back in 2020.

Tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) can have many uses including as a solvent or as an octane booster for vehicle fuel.

By Reuters Events Downstream