25 June 2012 00:00 [Source: ICB]
The Third GPCA Plastics Summit, held at the Grand Hyatt Dubai on April 3-5, focused on the importance of innovation in the plastics industry and of finding new growth areas in plastics conversion. Both are ultimately essential to the creation of new business opportunities and employment.
Sultan Bin Battal
Vice president, polymer SBU, SABIC
The level of participation in this year's summit is a sign of the continued growth in the industry. The GPCA Plastics Summit is now considered the ideal regional platform for encouraging discussions on education, technology and R&D, as well as the wider development of the plastics industry in the Middle East.
INNOVATION A NECESSITY
In his keynote presentation, Sultan Bin Battal, vice president of the polymer strategic business unit of SABIC, one of the world's five largest petrochemicals manufacturers, said the evolving needs of end-users will make innovation in the polymers industry a necessity, adding that the leading producers must respond to rapid demo-graphic and lifestyle changes, especially in the region.
Battal added that developing products for new applications, adding new features to existing solutions and optimizing manufacturing processes would be critical factors for success. He noted that SABIC's new application centre, to be completed in the third quarter of 2012, illustrates how the company is responding to the need for greater innovation and R&D.
Also speaking on the first day of the summit, Michael Pell, vice president of innovation at Borouge, highlighted the many cost savings and environmental benefits of plastics. In the food industry, for example, he said plastic packaging uses considerably less space than glass containers and achieves significant weight savings, which in turn reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
Highlighting the company's Abu Dhabi operations, Pell said Borouge's solutions in infrastructure, automotive and advanced packaging were benchmarks for plastics conversion in the region.
Also presenting on the first day of the summit, Mubarak Al-Mubarak, director general for planning and investment at the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, said further development of the plastics industry would create additional employment and lessen dependence on oil exports.
Jubail and Yanbu, which alone contribute 11.5% of Saudi Arabia's non-oil GDP, illustrate how Gulf countries can diversify their economies through plastics conversion, he said.
Other speakers at the two-day summit included Mohammed Al Laabon, Rowad National Plastic Company; Philippe Grimmelprez, Mattex Geosynthetics; Dr Klaus Noller, Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging; Rashid Al-Ghurair, Taghleef Industries; Nick Kernoghan, Smithers Pira; Dr Ulrich Reiners, Executive Packaging; Chua Sok Peng, Platts International; Manfred Klepacz, Al Rajhi Holding; Dr Jochen Hennes, Reifenhäuser; Dr Jürgen Scherer, Mauser Group; and HW Houben, managing director for Europe and MENA at A Schulman.
A half-day seminar on markets for plastic products from the GCC was held on the pre-summit day. The speakers at the seminar included Dr Ulrich Reiners, Executive Packaging; Andrew Reynolds, AMI; George A Hanna, HIPRO Consulting; Stephen Harrod, Smithers Pira; Barbaros Demirci, PAGEV; and Ivo Ploegsma, FoodWorkx.
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