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U.S. Plastics Pact and the Plastics Industry

In September of 2020, the United States launched the US Plastics Pact, a consortium of industry leaders whose goal is to work collectively towards a circular economy for plastics in the United States. Around 100 companies, including big brand names such as Coca-Cola and Target, as well as organizations geared towards sustainability such as the Ocean Conservancy, have agreed to be a part of the program, with the end goal being all plastic packaging be recyclable by 2025. In June of this year, the U.S. Plastics Pact released their roadmap, providing their plan for hitting the ambitious 2025 target.

The goals set in the road-map seem lofty, and not everyone in the plastics industry agrees with the timeline and language used.

In this week’s blog post, we will go over the goals set by the U.S. Plastics Pact Roadmap, the industry leaders who are on board, and the ones who are not.

Roadmap to Sustainability

On June 15th, the US Plastics Pact, with the help of WRAP UK, released a 36-page road-map detailing their plan to make plastic waste a thing of the past. The plan targeted four specific areas to address said plastic waste, through, according to their website, “specific actions, responsibilities, and interim timeframes in order to realize meaningful, target outcomes for a circular economy for plastic packaging.”

These target areas are:

  • Defining a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021.
  • Ensuring 100% of new plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
  • Undertaking actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packing (including PET and PP thermoformed and injected molded containers) by 2025.
  • Ensuring the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging (such as PE films) is at 30% by 2025.

The roadmap also calls to boost recycling rate of packaging made from PET, polypropylene and high-density polyethylene to 70% by 2025.

It’s goal by the end of 2022 is for all of its members to make public commitments to use recycled content in most of their packaging.

Lofty goals, but goals they say are obtainable. Not everyone agrees, however.

Realistic Goals or Pipe Dream?

The American Chemistry Council, the trade association for chemical companies and plastics manufacturers, says it welcomes the goals of the pact. In fact, many plastic firms have also signed on to the pact, including Amcor, Eastman Chemical and the National Association for PET Container Resources.

The issue, according to the ACC, is the timeline, and the language regarding phasing out “problematic plastic products”. In a statement issued by Joshua Baca, ACC’s vice president of plastics, said they want the Pact to be “transparent, data-driven and make recommendations based on science and engineering, rather than ideology” and to have “an inclusive and open process” that will “generate more informed and reliable outcomes and minimize risks of unintended consequences that can result from material substitution.”

The ACC had announced its own plans to create a circular plastics economy in 2018. Their plan was slightly less aggressive, with goal of 100% recyclable plastic packaging by 2030, and 100% of plastic packaging being either re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040. In 2020, the ACC announced their own “Roadmap to Reuse”, which outlined the ACC’s vision to achieve the previously listed goals.

Some in the plastics industry agree with the Pact.

Many plastic firms and trade groups have also signed on to the pact, including Amcor, Eastman Chemical and the National Association for PET Container Resources.

Amcor’s VP of Sustainability, David Clark, went on record saying “…we are proud to support the rollout of the US Plastics Pact Roadmap – which shows how cooperation across the value chain can help us solve the problem of waste in the environment.”

The National Association for PET Container Resources, or NAPCOR, even worked with the Pact to help launch the Roadmap, with NAPCOR Executive Director Darrel Collier saying that the U.S. Plastics Pact recycling goal of 50% is “ambitious, but not impossible.”

In Conclusion

While not everyone is keen on the US Plastics Pact Roadmap’s ambitious plans to create a circular plastics economy and reduce waste, many companies are more on board.

With more and more manufacturing companies agreeing to do their part to reduce plastic waste, The US Plastics Pact believes it can pave the way forward to a more sustainable plastics industry. The ACC also believes their plan can achieve those goals, while giving a more realistic timeline.

The important thing is, according to Collier, to do something.

“The timeframe is short, and the workload is immense, but if we choose to do nothing, the visions of a circular economy across the U.S. will give way to the status quo.”

With help from plastics manufacturers, companies can help make sure plastics remain both in the US economy, but out of the environment, for years to come.

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The Oil and Gas Industry During Covid-19

During the early months of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic raged across the globe, the oil and gas industry face a historic collapse.

2020 was a year of astounding disruption.

With restrictions in travel, decline in economic activity, a price war between various countries, and declines in stock, the industry was shaken to its very core and, like many other industries, forced to reinvent itself in the wake of 2020.

In this week’s blog post we will discuss the state of the oil and gas industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, how it has fared, and innovations that have been made.

An Industry Wide Crisis

2020 was a volatile year for many industries, oil and gas in particular. In the early months of 2020, oil prices had declined by about 33%. After that various oil producing countries engaged in a price war, triggered by a breakdown in dialogue. COVID-19 caused a historic drop in travel, causing the demand for oil to plummet to unprecedented lows.

WTI spot prices declined to as low as $8.91 a barrel in April of 2020, a level not seen since the economic recession of 1986. The drop in oil prices has also added problems to several energy producing states and local governments in the US, such as Texas, that are dependent on oil and gas revenue.

Many companies had to reorganize their entire business model, and many others were forced to file for bankruptcies or to liquidate their assets.

Things looked fairly bleak for the industry as 2020 progressed and the pandemic continued to rage across the globe. Despite that there were several silver linings.

Oil in the Medical Market

One good thing is that despite the disruption in oil production, causing a drop of more than a million barrels per day over the year, there has been little to no shortage in actual supply of oil. This means that people have still been able to fill their car or use natural gas to heat their home. The industry has also been open during large parts of the pandemic, having been deemed essential by the government. This makes sense, as petroleum is used in everything from anesthetics to wheelchairs to the gas the powers ambulances.

Likewise, while there has been a shortage of medical supplies such as masks and ventilators, it was mainly a planning issue. These supplies and others like gowns, surgical equipment, syringes and more are made with petroleum-based products. As such the oil and gas industry was able assist to manufacture all of those products in mere weeks to meet the demands created by COVID-19.

Similarly, with the COVID-19 vaccines include syringes made from plastics derived from petroleum, and the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require storage in industrial refrigeration made possible thanks to petroleum-based products.

Digitalization

While there is no doubt that COVID-19 has disrupted the oil and gas industry, some are stating that it may be a blessing in some ways. According to a report by the International Bar Association, the “reduction in oil and gas prices has increased the pressure on the industry to seek greater efficiency and reduce production costs.”

One promising alternative is digitalization, either through virtual modeling for project optimization, digital planning, cloud-based process design or machine learning.

With the social distancing requirements in place in many countries, this has forced companies to streamline remote work platforms.

Bob Benstead, VP of business cloud software firm Infor had this to say on the subject:

“I believe the biggest development that the oil and gas industry will see in 2021 will be the dramatic ramp-up of digital initiatives. This will truly push the industry toward new thinking, especially around how to maximize AI and machine learning, aligned to sensors and other Internet of Things devices, to drive down costs and optimize the workforce. Additionally, the increased trend toward cloud computing will help to significantly lower the total cost of service (TCS) to build, run and maintain efficient ERP (enterprise resource planning) and EAM (enterprise asset management) systems that oil and gas companies rely on.” (Rigzone.com “What Looms for Oil and Gas in 2021”)

Digitalization is expected to play a key role in the oil and gas industry as 2021 goes on. With enabling remote operations and allowing more human-machine collaboration, digitalizing is driving the industry forward.

Hope on the Horizon

The EIA (the US Energy Information Administration) predicts that the cost of crude oil will decline by the second half of 2021, making a more balanced global oil market. This will hopefully lower gas prices, which have been at record highs, as well as lowering the cost of production of petroleum-based products.

The oil and gas industry is also looking towards the future, with key players looking into clean energy transition, exploring public-private partnerships.

In early October, 323 rigs were working in domestic oil plays, which rose to 413 for the week ended Dec. 23, up about 28% year to date. This is still down substantially from the 838 rigs active in early March, but up nearly 50% from the early-July low of 279.

And finally, while the oil and gas industry as a whole has seen a downturn in profit, one sector, the gas pump market, as seen a CAGR growth of 6.85% in 2020, and is expected to reach a market size of US$8.685 billion by the year 2026.

In Conclusion

The impact of COVID-19 on the oil and gas industry has forced many to discuss the future of one of the world’s most volatile industries. Despite the hardships, however, there is no doubt that oil and gas will remain an important part in the global economy, and our every day lives, for some time to come.

For more information of polymer sealing solutions for oil and gas, contact Advanced EMC Technologies today!

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A Growing Medical Market

There are many factors that contribute to the rapidly growing medical plastics market. There is an increased demand for advanced medical devices, a rise in disposable income and changing lifestyles, and a demand for affordable and efficient healthcare systems.

These and more are currently driving the medical market, with a current estimated net worth of 22.8 billion USD.

And it is only growing.

Experts suggest that by 2024, the market will grow to a whopping 31.7 billion, with a CAGR of 6.8%.

Medical Plastics Market

Source: Markets and Markets, Medical Plastics Market

Applications of Medical Grade Plastics

Plastic packaging is widespread across many industries, but no more so than in the medical field. Within the next few years, packaging is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.8%, due to the increased use in pharmaceutical packaging, device packaging, and more.

Surprisingly though, it is devices such as medical implants and machinery that are generating the largest revenue and driving the industry forward. A perfect storm of an ever-growing population and an increase in chronic diseases, along with the lower manufacturing cost of these devices has led to the largest growth in the medical plastics industry.

Global medical polymers market

Source: Grand View Research, Medical Polymers Market Size

An Industry Standard

Since the 1980s plastics have dominated the medical device industry on account of their low manufacturing cost, flexibility, ease of replacement, and low risk of infection.

Plastics also provide radiolucency, enable light-weighting, and reduce stress-shielding. Because they are radiolucent, polymer-based surgical devices allow surgeons to have an unobstructed view.

All these combine to make medical-grade plastics the gold standard in the industry. Which in turn creates a very lucrative market.

In Conclusion

The medical-grade plastic industry has taken off in an incredibly short amount of time. With increasingly easy to manufacture products coupled with an ever-expanding market, the industry will only get bigger over time. Want to learn more? Contact us today! 

 

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Bear the Wear and Tear with Versatile, Durable Plastic Flange Bushing

bear-the-wear-and-tear-with-versatile,-durable-plastic-flange-bushingThe Sacramento Bee published an industry news update on its site regarding the bearings industry in America. Things are looking good as the country’s numerous industrial sectors are all in need of the vital components that this field provides. The article points out that the market has a lot more room to expand.

Ball, roller, and plain bearing demand in the US is forecast to increase 4.4 percent per year to $12.9 billion in 2017. This will be a notable improvement from the growth registered during the 2007 to 2012 period. Market advances will be supported by improved conditions in motor vehicle manufacturing, the largest market for bearings. The trend toward “insourcing” US durable goods manufacturing will create opportunities in a variety of markets.

Engine, turbine & power transmission market to grow the fastest The engine, turbine, and power transmission equipment market will experience the fastest growth, bolstered by continued growth in the wind energy segment. The automotive market will not be far behind, outpacing overall bearing demand gains. Bearing manufacturers will benefit from particularly strong growth in heavy truck and bus production, as these vehicles utilize more bearings (both in unit and dollar terms) than passenger cars.

All sorts of machines need bearings, especially if said they have parts that rotate or pivot. Basically, the more moving parts there are, the more bearings are needed. While it does sound like these tools are always made of metal, that’s not always the case. Manufacturers will be glad to know that there are sturdy plastic flange bushing parts, which are more lightweight and versatile.

For the uninitiated, bearing refers to any machine element that restrains motion between two joined parts. This is designed to reduce the instances of friction, thereby decreasing wear and improving performance; for example, your car’s engine has plenty of these components that help it perform at top efficiency. Bushings are a type of bearing, and they’re usually used for rotary applications such as for turbines, fans, and so on.

Manufacturers and other entities operating with rotating machinery of any sort will need high quality PTFE or Nylon bushings from companies like Advanced EMC Technologies. Bushings are usually subjected to intense machine wear, and will eventually break down with continued use. It’s better for operators to have as many bearings on hand to replace critically damaged ones quickly so that the workflow doesn’t get interrupted.

(From US Bearings Market, Sacramento Bee, September 10, 2013)

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Bear the Wear and Tear with Versatile, Durable Plastic Flange Bushing

plastic_flange_bushingsThe Sacramento Bee published an industry news update on its site regarding the bearings industry in America. Things are looking good as the country’s numerous industrial sectors are all in need of the vital components that this field provides. The article points out that the market has a lot more room to expand.

Ball, roller, and plain bearing demand in the US is forecast to increase 4.4 percent per year to $12.9 billion in 2017. This will be a notable improvement from the growth registered during the 2007 to 2012 period. Market advances will be supported by improved conditions in motor vehicle manufacturing, the largest market for bearings. The trend toward “insourcing” US durable goods manufacturing will create opportunities in a variety of markets.

Read more

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Keeping Connections Leak-Proof and Secure with Durable Polymer Seals

keeping-connections-leak-proof-and-secure-with-durable-polymer-sealsThe Las Vegas Guardian Express has a special feature on its website regarding a revolutionary polymer synthesized by the CIDETEC Center for Electrochemical Technologies in Spain. This new type has the ability to “heal” itself when damaged. More about this innovation can be read in the following passage:

Synthetic polymers impersonate natural polymers with one big exception. Synthetic polymers do not have the inherent ability of self-healing—that is until now.

In the September issue, Materials Horizon reports that scientists have created a polymer that after being sliced and separated, the molecule can self-repair it form back to its previous, undamaged condition. What is unique to this synthetic polymer, is that the entire repair is done without use of a catalyst. Again for chemistry 101 haters, a catalyst is a substance that works to speed up a chemical reaction.

For its toughness, the synthetic self-healing polymer has been nicknamed the Terminator after the Terminator 2 T100 (sic) robot.

Polymers can be used in a variety of applications, such as sealing connections. While the self-healing compound has yet to be produced for everyday use, regular polymers are durable enough to be used for normal home purposes such as leak plugging. Sturdy polymer seals, such as those produced by Advanced EMC Technologies, can secure links and keep them pressurized.

Numerous machines, especially those with piping, hoses, wires, and cables could use a sealant to secure their components. This guarantees a firm grip among connecting elements and manages to preserve internal pressure. This way, liquids and air passing through them can’t leak out and compromise the system.

Seals come in all shapes and sizes to fit a wide range of equipment. Ergonomic v-packing seals, for instance, are designed to “hug” the lip of a machine it’s placed on for a firmer hold. If your appliances or industrial tools tend to leak, you should only trust well known brands in the field. While the self-healing polymer is still in its testing stages, there’s no need to wait when there’s a whole line of durable sealants available in the market; just make sure that you consult an expert to find out which type you should use.

(Self-Healing Polymers Will Soon Be Invading Your Household, Las Vegas Guardian Express, September 19. 2013)

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Keeping Connections Leak-Proof and Secure with Durable Polymer Seals

keeping-connections-leak-proof-and-secure-with-durable-polymer-sealsThe Las Vegas Guardian Express has a special feature on its website regarding a revolutionary polymer synthesized by the CIDETEC Center for Electrochemical Technologies in Spain. This new type has the ability to “heal” itself when damaged. More about this innovation can be read in the following passage:

Synthetic polymers impersonate natural polymers with one big exception. Synthetic polymers do not have the inherent ability of self-healing—that is until now.

Read more

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Replacing Components Like Plastic Flange Bushing & Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

Replacing Components Like Plastic Flange Bushing & Root Cause Analysis (RCA)Regular maintenance is a good way to keep tools and machines up and running. However, when you’re doing maintenance work more often than usual, is it still possible to keep the current units in working condition? Jorge Sastre, an engineering professor from the European University of Madrid, discusses this question in his article for Bearing-News.com.

There’s more to maintenance than just repairing the problem. This is especially the case for small parts like bearings and bushings. It’s not enough that you lubricate the parts to keep them running smoothly; find out what makes the parts break down. By performing periodic root cause analysis (RCA) for mechanical issues, and by purchasing components like durable plastic flange bushing, frequent and costly mechanical breakdowns can be avoided.

Sastre has performed inspections on many types of machines in various facilities; a recent inspection took place in a repair facility a few months ago. Sastre commended the team for being very efficient, as the team managed to fix a broken auxiliary water pump in less than two hours. However, for him, the job was far from done: will the water pump fail again? Is there anything else that can be done to prevent the problem from recurring too soon?

RCA delves deep into the facts surrounding an issue simply by answering the what, who, when, why, where, and how. RCAs are not as time consuming as they initially appear to be, as employees can conduct RCAs while working with the broken tools or machines. Perhaps the old parts need to be replaced with brand new superior PTFE nylon bushings from manufacturers like Advanced EMC Technologies.

This definitely beats constantly oiling or lubricating the creaking parts. Having a low friction rate, durable PTFE nylon bushings are ideal for machinery that has pivoting or rotating parts. You shouldn’t wait too long to conduct an RCA, either; the analysis grows harder the more wear and tear the machinery or tool sustains. Analysis must be conducted the moment the machine shows the first few signs of complication or imminent breakdown.

Operating behavior is an excellent indicator of problems—engines making funny sounds, rotary valves struggling to rotate, and so on. Companies would be surprised to know how much time and money they would save if they’d identify the root source of the problem instead of implementing short term solutions that do not deal with the underlying issues effectively. Manufacturers that specialize in the production of high performance polymer seals, bearings, and precision components—like Advanced EMC Technologies—can provide companies with the durable components they need to ensure the functionality of their machinery.

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Manufacturers of Non-Hazardous Polymer Seals Say EPA wants to Phase Out PFOA by 2015

Some Teflon manufacturers have announced that they will be phasing out non-stick coatings on pans and other cookware by 2015 or earlier, reports Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss of E-The Environmental Magazine. The decision was made after these manufacturers received reports of serious health effects that resulted from exposing Teflon to high heat. High heat exposure releases a constituent chemical known as PFOA in gas form.

Manufacturers of Non-Hazardous Polymer Seals Say EPA wants to Phase Out PFOA by 2015However, take note that only Teflon derived from perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) will be phased out. It’s unlikely to affect the other Teflon—virgin polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE). Chemist Roy Plunkett first discovered PTFE in 1938, and it currently holds the Guinness World Record for slickest substance. Companies that are looking for manufacturers of quality polymer seals and bearings that are non-hazardous should contact manufacturers like Advanced EMC Technologies.

At 0.02, PTFE has the lowest coefficient of static and dynamic friction for a solid. It has seen various uses aside from non-stick frying pans and casseroles, and has even been applied in aerodynamics. Consumers and businesses that are worried about the health hazards of PFOA would be glad to know that many manufacturers, such as Advanced EMC Technologies, are producing seals, bearings, and precision components using efficient but non-hazardous materials.

While there’s no direct evidence linking exposure to PFOA to health problems, workers in factories that produce PFOA products are at risk of developing pancreatic and testicular cancer. As initial tests have shown that PFOA is lethal to birds, some are quick to assume that it may pose the same threat to humans. The fumes emitted by non-stick pans during cooking may contain the carcinogenic PFOA, which has been found to increase estrogen levels and deregulate testosterone functions.

In a letter to former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson, a well-known Teflon manufacturer discussed its goal of totally eliminating PFOA by 2015 or earlier. Alternatives being researched assure the EPA and the public that future products containing PTFE (no longer called Teflon) won’t break down or contain any PFOA. By using polymers that do not emit hazardous substances, public health and safety is reinforced.

Virgin PTFE is already available in the market, primarily for making industrial-grade virgin PTFE rotary shaft seals. Reinforced seals can resist temperatures between 60 below zero to 520 degrees Fahrenheit. These seals are primarily used to handle hazardous materials, as they won’t degrade so easily upon chemical and nuclear exposure. Virgin PTFE may not be as slick as the original Teflon (static and dynamic coefficient of 0.09 and 0.05 respectively), but it doesn’t need to be.

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Replacing Components Like Plastic Flange Bushing & Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

bearing_maintenance_repair-108050-edited

Regular maintenance is a good way to keep tools and machines up and running. However, when you’re doing maintenance work more often than usual, is it still possible to keep the current units in working condition? Jorge Sastre, an engineering professor from the European University of Madrid, discusses this question in his article for Bearing-News.com.

Read more