Dow teams up with Michigan retailer to build parking lot from old plastic bags; Mexican chemical companies face uncertainty over labor regulations;November vehicle sales fell nearly 13% on-year;U.S. chemical rail shipments see Nov. rise

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Dow's plant in Formosa, Texas. Image courtesy of Dow

Dow teams up with Michigan retailer to build parking lot from old plastic bags

Dow and the Michigan retailer Meijer announced on Nov. 11, 2021 a project to recycle 12,500 pounds of plastic bags collected from customers through in-store recycle bins for pavement material that will help build a store’s new parking lot and fuel station.

The recycled polymer modified asphalt parking lot project will use the equivalent of 944,000 plastic grocery bags, the companies said.

“The effort is an example of how we’re continually creating new technologies and initiatives to transform used plastics into functional and valuable solutions,” said CJ DuBois, North American paving application development leader at Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics.

Padnos, a materials recycler, and K-Tech Specialty Coatings, an asphalt emulsion company, modified the base asphalt with elastomeric terpolymer.

Rieth-Riley, the construction contractor, produced the final hot-mix asphalt and paved the Meijer parking lot and adjacent gasoline station, according to the statement.

Mexican chemical companies face uncertainty over labor regulations

The Mexican National Association of the Chemical Industry (ANIQ for its Spanish acronym) said on Nov. 26, 2021 that its members have sought more clarity from the federal government over new regulations related to mandatory information about labor conditions at their plants.

Mexican chemical companies met with government officials to “better understand” a program under which employers declare their “levels of compliance of general work conditions, training, as well as aspects related to security and health prevalent in their workplace,” according to Aniq.

Government officials have explained, according to an Aniq statement, that the information requested was primarily for industries with lower risk levels to those of the chemical industry but is still mandatory for all.

Chemical companies have been asked to comply and provide the information requested, it said.

The Mexican Senate approved two years ago the Protocol Modificatory to the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Canada.

Mexican businesses had already in 2019 concerns about the impact from the application of new labor provision tied to accords on environment cooperation and customs verification with the U.S., as well as one on environment with Canada.

November vehicle sales fell nearly 13% on-year

JD Power said on Nov. 24 that according to analyst projections new-vehicle retail sales for November 2021 will contract 13% compared with last year, according to a joint forecast it produced along with LMC Automotive.

“For November, as has been the case since August, new-vehicle sales are being constrained by available inventory.

Retail inventory on dealer lots is expected to end below one million vehicles for a fourth consecutive month, with sales in each month being dictated by the number of vehicles delivered to dealerships rather than reflecting actual demand,” it said.

November retail sales of new vehicles are likely to be about 933,700 units, a 13% on-year decrease when adjusted for selling days as there was one additional day this year.

 “The lack of vehicles in inventory this month is particularly significant as the typical Black Friday sales surge will be difficult to support. Nevertheless, strong underlying demand for new vehicles, coupled with rising pent-up demand due to the inventory shortage, is sustaining record transaction prices and profits for each unit sold,” it said.

A shortage of vehicles has helped the sales of some chemicals as auto dealerships are making efforts to include chemical protective films and other optional added options that raise up the cost of a new car, according to some top chemical industry executives.

U.S. railroad chemical shipments see 4% on-year rise in Nov.

Chemical shipments were among the transported material categories volumes that rose in November from a year earlier in U.S. railroad shipments, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

U.S. railroads originated 1.03 million containers and trailers in Nov. 2021, a 9.6% on-year decline. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in Nov. 2021 were 1.9 million, down 45% from November of last year.

November saw an increase of 5,563 carloads, 4.4% more than a year ago. Transported materials that saw on-year gains included coal, which rose 8.6%, as well as “crushed stone, sand & gravel”, which rose 7.4%.

Commodities that saw declines in November 2021 from November 2020 included: motor vehicles & parts, down 14%; and grain, down 7.4%.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first 11 months of 2021 was 10,874,439 carloads, a 7% on-year increase from the same period last year. Intermodal units rose 6.4% from last year.

The year-to-date figures showed improvement from earlier this year.

“Fifteen of the 20 carload categories we track have seen year-to-date carload increases on U.S. railroads through November,” said AAR vice president John Gray.

“Coal leads the way, with carloads up more than 11%, or nearly 306,000 carloads, mainly because the price of natural gas to electricity generators has doubled since the beginning of the year,” Gray said.

Chemicals, grain and commodities related to steel production all showed solid carload growth this year, he added.

By Reuters Events Downstream