Singapore plastics industry supports innovations towardsa circular economy

31 January 2022

Among the countries in Southeast Asia, Singapore has taken a special place for being an ideal investment site for major players in the plastics industry as many of them operate subsidiaries and retain their production facilities in the country. These global companies are attracted by Singapore’s investment incentives, efficient infrastructure and professional workforce.Jurong Island, located southwest of the main island of Singapore, offers excellent infrastructure that it is now home to chemical companies and their laboratories.

One major plastics industry player is SABIC, which has expanded its production capacity through additional investment in a resin facility for the production of its ULTEM™ brand Singapore in 2021 to cater to its customers in the Asia –Pacific region. Another company is BASF which operates an antioxidant production plant at Jurong Island. The plant serves the Asia and the Middle East markets with BASF’s additives, among them Irganox 1010. Lanxess also operates a modern butyl rubber plant and neodymium-based performance butadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) in Singapore. Milliken & Company also constructed a state-of-the-art chemical manufacturing plant and knowledge center for Asia in Singapore. The company now operates an applications lab and technical service and sales office in Singapore, and celebrated its 20-year presence in the region. The Milliken plant in Singapore has the capability to manufacture several integral Milliken plastic additives that bring sustainability and production benefits to the global plastics industry.

Engineering plastics production innovations have been developed and put into trials in laboratory centers in Singapore. Covestrohas joined an international group of companies in launching the Composite Application Center (CAC) in Singapore. The center develops end-to-end solutions for composite applications for various industries and serves as platform where customer trials, prototyping, pilot manufacturing, training and support services are conducted.  Recently, a team of scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA has developed a ‘smart’ food packaging material which is biodegradable, sustainable and even kills dangerous micro-organisms which are harmful to human health.  The waterproof material could also extend the shelf life of soft fruit for up to three days.

Stepping up circularity efforts through recycling
Moving forward, Singapore’s plastics industry is taking major steps to achieve a circular economy starting with raising its recycling activities, and this creates a potential market for advanced recycling technologies. Singapore generates around 860,000 tons of plastic waste, accounting for 30% of all waste disposed, but only 4% was recycled.

The country’s population of nearly 4 billion is a thriving consumer market where packaging accounts for the bulk of the domestic waste. But like its Southeast Asian neighbors, Singapore is facing its own battle on how to curtail its mounting waste as substantial share of its domestic waste is incinerated. There is also growing concern as Singapore’s lone landfill site in Semakau Island is expected to be full by 2035.Singapore currently has no facility that recovers plastic bottles and containers from domestic waste. The Singapore government introduced the Zero Waste Masterplan in 2019 containing strategies to reach a fourfold increase in plastics reuse and recycling by 2030.   

One of the major developments in the move towards a circular economywas the creation of its first industry association dedicated to recycling, the Plastics Recycling Association Singapore (PRAS) in 2021, to bring together organizations, institutions, government agencies and other sectors to explore ways to support plastic waste recycling as identified in the country’s Zero Waste Masterplan. PRAS was established through cooperation by local entities and the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (SGC).  PRAS aims to identify pilot projects in recycling and utilise the knowledge gained in the implementation for the establishment of a Plastics Recycling Centre of Excellence (PRCOE). Its first project is the PET bottle-to-bottle plant. With PET bottle recycling’s emerging popularity in the region, Singapore is eyeing the construction of a PET bottle recycling facility and increasing demand for recycling systems.

New solutions in plastic waste recycling are also being developed by the various R&D centers in the country. For instance, progress is being made in reducing the plastic waste footprint by a team from A*STAR’s Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences which is developing a solution to recover PE and PET layers in multi-layered films; while a team from Temasek Polytechnic’s Centre for Urban Sustainability is looking at processing mixed plastic waste into ingredients for building and construction applications. Private companies in the country are also actively working to meet the challenges by being part of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Plastic ACTion initiative (PACT) to reduce and recycle plastics, or switch to recyclable options. For example, healthy food chain SaladStop! now uses recycled PET in 80% of its plastics packaging, while Henkel has committed to use at least 30% recycled plastics in all its packaging for its consumer products by 2025.  

At CHINAPLAS 2022, companies and organizations are expected to witness cutting-edge recycling technologies and processes that will play vital role in their transition towards effective waste management and efficient recycling. The whole exhibition floor provides ample opportunities for those interested in recycling and adopting sustainable production processes with live demonstration and on-the-spot discussions with exhibitors. For more information, visit www.ChinaplasOnline.com

About CHINAPLAS 2022

CHINAPLAS 2022, one of the most prestigious international plastics and rubber trade fairs, will be held at National Convention and Exhibition Center, Hongqiao, Shanghai, PR China from April 25-28, 2022. The show will gather 4,000+ international exhibitors under one roof and welcome visitors from all around the world to grasp business opportunities generated from the economic recovery. To cope with the fast-changing global sourcing conditions without travelling under the pandemic, overseas buyers are now able to connect with thousands of materials and machines suppliers via CHINAPLAS eMarketplace, a smart efficient integrated, and sustainable online sourcing platform which is complementary to the physical show of CHINAPLAS. For more information, please visit: www.chinaplasonline.com

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