US Biobased Products Industry: Economic Impact Analysis

paperinsight bioeconomyA detailed report commissioned by the USDA’s ‘BioPreferred® Program’, has been released. Some highlights are:

  • A conservative estimate of 40,000 bio-based products were sold in the USA in 2013 with an estimated value of $126 billion.
  • The bio-based industries contributed $369 billion to the US economy in 2013.
  • The bio-based products industry directly employed 1.5 million Americans in 2013.
  • The biobased products are currently displacing about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year – equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road.

The seven sectors considered to be involved the US bio-based products industry were:

  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Bio-refining
  • Biobased Chemicals
  • Enzymes
  • Bioplastic Bottles & Packaging
  • Forest Products
  • Textiles

A good read for those interested in the bio-based economy and the future potential of bio-renewables.

For the full report, please click here

2014 CEPI Statistics: Growth in European paper & board industry flat in 2014 after decline between 2010 & 2013

paperinsight marketThe 2014 statistics for the paper and board industry have been published – as usual, the Confederation of the Paper Industry (CEPI) has done and excellent job in analysing and summarising the data.

In 2014 the production of paper and board for the countries covered by CEPI has been relatively stable (-0.2%), after a 4% cumulative decline between 2010 and 2013.

Please click here for the CEPI 2014 Statistics.

Today, Germany celebrates a 625 year history of papermaking

paperinsight paper companiesThis morning, I noticed an article in ipw magazine stating that on June 24th (today), the German paper industry (VDP = Association of German Paper-manufacturers) celebrates a 625 year history. Many paper manufacturers will open their doors to mark this special event.

Congratulations and what a great idea to open doors and share what the industry does and contributes.

For the detailed ipw article, please click here.

Optical Brightening Agents for Papermaking – the supply and demand situation

paperinsight additive supplOptical brightening agents (OBAs) are used in large quantities to increase the brightness or whiteness of paper and board products and for details of what optical brigthening agents are and their raw material composition, please refer to an earlier blogpost.  Recently, there has been a number of changes in the market which have impacted on the supply and demand for these products.

Demand has been in a state of flux, with further consolidation in the industry and closure of paper mills in Europe and the USA countered by the increased demand in Asia and South America. When demand shifts to Asia and South America, there are different options for the sourcing of OBAs as there are strong regional manufacturers of the products which are usually more competitive than the European or international producers.

On the supply side, there have been three significant effects. First, the Chinese government has belatedly chosen to clamp down on the polluting producers of the diamond-stilbene (DAST) raw material and as China is the major producer (> 40%), removing a significant amount of DAST increased raw material prices significantly. The remaining DAST producers in India and elsewhere could not pick up the deficit and DAST prices increased from below $1.50 to over £5.00 only to fall back to  around $3.50. This supply shortfall is not too dissimilar to the situation that occurred before the Beijing Olympics when the Chinese government prevented a number of DAST and OBA manufacturers from producing in order to cut down on the pollution wafting over the Olympic sites.

Second, to compound things, exchange rates have been volatile – especially the devaluation of the Euro against the dollar.

Third, oil prices fell dramatically only to recover somewhat but it is unlikely that prices will return to the $100/barrel level in the near future.

So, what of the product producers? Those that were back integrated and produced DAST had some relief, and tried to take advantage of the situation, increasing DAST and OBA prices; however, the OBA market in Europe was saturated and there was little upward movement in pricing and this situation is likely to remain.

From a European perspective the situation is:

  • European manufacturers of OBA face much higher higher material costs but have lower product logistic costs.
  • As the raw materials are based on oil, the oil price fluctuations we have seen recently have reduced raw material costs although DASDA pricing is not entirely dependant on oil pricing.
  • Chinese, Indian and Indonesian manufacturers importing into Europe are having to either absorb the dollar and raw material increases or find a way to compete with current European pricing. Most paper mills look at the delivered cost of OBAs (DDP) and the supply chain costs from India or China are significant, even when importing companies ship powder OBAs and dilute them in Europe.
  • Chinese, Indian and Indonesian manufacturers do not offer the more innovative OBAs and are therefore competing with what are essentially ‘commodity’ OBAs.
  • The OBA market is very competitive and there are too many suppliers. Aside form the manufacturers, the market is further fragmented by European suppliers which source from India, China and Indonesia.  These suppliers are also subject to the same effects that their suppliers (importing manufacturers) are facing.
  • A number of importers seem to flout both REACH and patent compliance for short-term gain.
  • New entrants into the market seem to struggle with both the compliance and basic service requirements of their customers.

The outlook for price increases in the OBA market in Europe is bleak and the market will remain fragmented.  The question is how long all the players in the European OBA market will be able to live with very low margins – there will be some exiting the market in 2015/2016.

 

 

The interest & investment in nanocrystalline cellulose continues – two new commitments are made in Europe

paperinsight bioeconomyOn the 11th March, 2015, Sappi Limited announced that it will build a pilot-scale plant for the low-cost production of Cellulose NanoFibrils (nanocellulose) at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Sittard-Geleen in the Netherlands.

The pilot plant is expected to be operational within nine months and the raw material would be supplied from any of Sappi’s Saiccor, Ngodwana and Cloquet dissolving wood pulp plants. The pilot plant will test the manufacturing of dry re-dispersible Cellulose NanoFibrils (CNF) using the proprietary technology developed by Sappi and Edinburgh Napier University. The CNF produced by Sappi will have unique morphology, specifically modified for either hydrophobic or hydrophilic applications. Products produced using Sappi’s CNF will be used in areas such as lighter and stronger fibre-reinforced composites and plastics, in food and pharmaceutical applications, and in rheology modifiers as well as in barrier and other paper and coating applications.

The location of the pilot plant at Brightlands Chemelot Campus provides Sappi with easy access to multiple partners with whom Sappi will seek to co-develop CNF-containing products across a range of applications.

The pilot plant is the precursor for Sappi to consider the construction of a commercial CNF plant and fits with Sappi’s strategy which includes seeking growth opportunities by producing innovative performance materials from renewable resources.

Please click here for the detailed Sappi announcement.

In another announcement, MoRe Research, Holmen and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, stated that they are investing in, ‘Europe’s first pilot facility for nanocrystalline cellulose‘, in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

The role of each of the participants can be summed up as follows:

  • The pilot facility is located directly adjacent to MoRe who have in-depth knowledge of cellulose, and wide-ranging experience of pilot operations and extensive laboratory and analytical resources.
  • As SP operates in many different sectors it will be able to pave the way for commercially interesting applications beyond the forestry sector’s traditional boundaries.
  • MoRe and SP will have central roles in the construction and operation of the facility, which is expected to be in place during the first half of 2016.
  • The operation in the pilot plant is based on technology developed by an Israeli start-up company Melodea.
  • Holmen is working actively to develop new products based on raw materials from forests and are participating as a catalyst in the creation of the facility and in their role as a co-owner of Melodea

The facility will allow interested companies to develop nanocrystalline cellulose from cellulose-based material on a large scale.  As with the Sappi announcement, the interesting material properties of nanocrystalline cellulose were emphasised, and examples were given for potential applications – as a building material, in biocomposites, printed electronics and dye additives.

The plant is supported financially by Västernorrland County Administrative Board, Holmen, the Kempe Foundations, SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden and the Önnesjö Foundation.

Please click here for the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden announcement.

 

Leeds City Region LEP is looking for SMEs to join the Management Boards of the Employer Ownership Pilot project

LCRLooks like a good opportunity for SMEs to get involved and contribute to the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – they are looking for seven small and medium sized businesses to join the Management Boards of the Employer Ownership Pilot.

Click here for details.

For more details regarding the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, please click here.

Horizon 2020 – European funding for innovation

H2020-illu_copy.peshkova - Fotolia_0Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness.

Seen as a means to drive economic growth and create jobs, Horizon 2020 has the political backing of Europe’s leaders and the Members of the European Parliament. They agreed that research is an investment in our future and so put it at the heart of the EU’s blueprint for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and jobs.

By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 is helping to achieve this with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.

Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with a simple structure that reduces red tape and time so participants can focus on what is really important. This approach makes sure new projects get off the ground quickly – and achieve results faster.

The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation will be complemented by further measures to complete and further develop the European Research Area. These measures will aim at breaking down barriers to create a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation.

For more detailed information, please click here

The Yorkshire Mafia – Yorkshire’s business showreel

Yorkshire MafiaYorkshire is open for business! Watch the Yorkshire Mafia, 3 minutes and 38 seconds showreel. Hundreds of businesses in one big collaborative effort …. showing off Yorkshire as the engine room of the North and really putting on a display of the colour, breadth and diversity of Yorkshire business.

To watch the video, please click here