FocusINEOS Marl closure heralds further move towards grey EPS

13 June 2013 17:36  [Source: ICIS news]

By Peter Gerrard

LONDON (ICIS)--The prospective closure of INEOS Styrenics’ expandable polystyrene (EPS) plant at its site in Marl, Germany, announced on 10 June means a reduction of the company's total capacity, but also represents part of a continuing trend to replace traditional white EPS by grey material.

Grey EPS is a low lambda grade, which facilitates the same thermal insulation properties from a thinner panel. It is therefore employed in the construction industry and is principally useful in renovation projects. The lambda value is the measure of thermal conductivity.

The plant in Marl produces exclusively conventional white EPS.

An INEOS executive said on Thursday that its overall capacity in Europe will not fall by the 100,000 tonnes/year that the facility has been capable of producing, and will still stand at 350,000 tonnes/year rather than the 310,000 tonnes/year implied by the forthcoming shutdown.

The difference will be accounted for by additional output potential in the company's other three plants, including an unspecified extra amount of grey EPS capacity in Ribecourt, France.

While reducing costs in Marl, INEOS is therefore also investing in increasing production in what has been identified as the growth sector of the industry. For this reason, it is not the only company to increase its presence in this sector.

BASF in Germany and Austrian producer Sunpor have been developing units for expanded output of grey EPS, although both companies are reticent in disclosing the extent of the increases made up to now.

Total has converted one of its polystyrene (PS) lines in Feluy, Belgium, to produce EPS instead. Commercial output from the facility was said to be imminent in the second quarter of 2013.

The venture represents Total's entry into the EPS market and it is the first plant dedicated solely to production of grey EPS.

By: Peter Gerrard
+44 208 652 3214

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