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Discover the factors influencing xylenes markets

Xylenes prices and demand can change in an instant. As a by-product of oil refining, petrochemical production and coke fuel manufacturing, these chemicals are highly dependent on upstream markets. Likewise, xylenes demand fluctuates rapidly in downstream markets as they are used in a variety of processes.

Xylenes are split into four main components, isomer grade mixed xylenes (MX), solvent grade xylenes, para-xylenes (PX) and orthoxylenes (OX). Solvent xylenes are used as solvents in the printing, rubber and leather industries as well as cleaning agents, thinners for paints and in agricultural sprays. The primary use of mixed xylenes is as an octane booster for transportation fuels. Xylenes are also one of the precursors of the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyester fibre. OX is largely used for the production of phthalic anhydride (PA) markets.

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Xylenes news

Asia petrochemical shares tumble on Mideast concerns; oil pares gains

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Shares of petrochemical companies in Asia slumped on Friday, while oil prices surged amid escalating tensions in the Middle East following reported explosions in Iran, Syria and Iraq. Japan’s Nikkei 225 falls 2.66% at close of trade Brent crude briefly crosses $90/bbl; oil eases off highs Israel behind Iran explosions – reports At 07:24 GMT, Asahi Kasei Corp and Mitsui Chemicals were down by 1.31% and 1.98%, respectively, in Tokyo, as Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 2.66% to close at 37,068.35. In Seoul, LG Chem fell 2.11% as South Korea's KOSPI composite fell by 1.63% to 2,591.86. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped by 0.98% to 16,226.07. In southeast Asia, PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) slipped by 0.44% while Siam Cement Group (SCG) was down 2.69%. High oil prices will continue to squeeze margins of petrochemical producers, which are struggling with poor demand and overcapacity. Middle East markets in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar could mirror the movement in Asia when they open on 21 April. Regional bourses are closed on Fridays and Saturdays. Oil prices pared earlier gains in the afternoon trade in Asia after surging by more than $3/barrel earlier in the session, following reports by various media outlets in the Middle East of explosions in Iran, Syria, and Iraq.   "If these reports turn out to be true, fears over further escalation will only grow, as well as concerns that we are potentially moving closer towards a situation where oil supply risks lead to actual supply disruptions," said Dutch banking and financial information services provider ING in a note on Friday. Overnight, oil prices settled mixed following a sell-off early in the week as financial markets discounted fears of a war between Israel and Iran that could disrupt crude supplies. Explosions were heard around the central city of Isfahan early on Friday, Iranian media reported, adding that three drones were destroyed after the country's air defense systems were activated. Isfahan houses a significant military airbase, and the province is host to numerous Iranian nuclear facilities, among them the city of Natanz, which is central to Iran's uranium enrichment efforts. Iran's state-run Press TV in a report said that "important facilities in the Isfahan province, especially nuclear facilities, are completely safe and no accidents have been reported". Iran initially closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack but has since re-opened them. "Normal operations have resumed for flights at Iranian airports including Imam Khomeini International Airport and Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran after temporary delays," Press TV said, citing the Iran Airports and Air Navigation Co. Elsewhere, Iran’s official IRNA news agency said a series of explosions in Syria targeted military sites. In Iraq, meanwhile, explosions were reported in the al-Imam area of Babel. The reports have sparked worry that Israel has retaliated against Iran's drone attacks last week. Iran launched the strikes on 13 April in response to a suspected Israeli airstrike on Iran's consulate in Syria at the start of the month. Prior to the news of Friday's attacks, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian issued a warning during an interview with US broadcaster CNN on Thursday that Iran would respond "immediately and with maximum intensity" to any Israeli aggression. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman Additional reporting by Nadim Salamoun


Oil jumps by more than $3/barrel on Mideast supply disruption fears

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices surged by more than $3/barrel in Asian morning trade on Friday, with Brent crude crossing above $90/barrel before easing midday, amid heightened fears of supply disruption following unofficial reports of explosions in the Middle East. ($/barrel) Contract Low High Open Last (at 03:17 GMT) Previous Settlement Change High Change Brent June 86.85 90.75 87.04 89.42 87.11 2.31 3.64 WTI May 82.47 86.28 82.62 84.76 82.73 2.03 3.55 "If these reports turn out to be true, fears over further escalation will only grow, as well as concerns that we are potentially moving closer towards a situation where oil supply risks lead to actual supply disruptions," said Dutch banking and financial information services provider ING in a note on Friday. Overnight, oil prices settled mixed following a sell-off early in the week as financial markets discounted fears of a war between Israel and Iran that could disrupt crude supplies. On Friday, various media outlets in the Middle East reported explosions occurred in Iran, Syria, and Iraq. Israel has launched a missile attack against a site in Iran, according to US broadcaster ABC News, while Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has reported explosions in Isfahan province with state television reporting flights in several cities have been suspended. Isfahan houses a significant military airbase, and the province is host to numerous Iranian nuclear facilities, among them the city of Natanz, which is central to Iran's uranium enrichment efforts. Iran’s official IRNA news agency said a series of explosions in Syria targeted military sites. In Iraq, meanwhile, explosions were reported in the al-Imam area of Babel. The reports have sparked worry that Israel has retaliated against Iran's drone attacks last week. Iran launched the strikes on 13 April in response to a suspected Israeli airstrike on Iran's consulate in Syria at the start of the month. Prior to the news of Friday's attacks, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian issued a warning during a interview with US broadcaster CNN on Thursday that Iran would respond "immediately and with maximum intensity" to any Israeli aggression.


PODCAST: Asia, Mideast PET markets see need-based buying, geopolitics weigh on sentiment

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Buying activities in the Asia and Middle East polyethylene terephthalate (PET) markets remained relatively need-based, with factors like geopolitical tensions and uncertainties in freight rates clouding sentiment. Asian market sentiment mixed, PET tracks upstream closely Uncertainty around freight rates leads to need-based buying Mideast buyers’ inventories high, but some replenishment expected post-Eid break In this chemical podcast, ICIS editors Damini Dabholkar and Zachary Tia discuss recent market conditions with an outlook ahead in Asia and the Middle East. ICIS will be at the Chinaplas conference in Shanghai from 23-26 April. Please get in touch with our team there for more discussion on the PET market.


Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 12 April 2024. China Mar petrochemical markets mixed; Apr demand on seasonal uptick By Yvonne Shi 12-Apr-24 14:19 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Fluctuations in China’s domestic petrochemical markets were limited in March, yielding a mixed performance during the month, while a seasonal improvement in demand is expected in the near term. Tight intra-Asia container shipping space dampens recycling trades By Arianne Perez 12-Apr-24 13:34 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Major Asian recyclers are feeling the pinch of continued uptrend in spot container freight costs for trade within Asia since March. Asia naphtha demand slows down; supply stays ample By Li Peng Seng 11-Apr-24 13:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s naphtha crack, the spread between Brent crude and the chemical feedstock prices, hit a five-month low recently and it will remain under pressure in the weeks ahead as ample supplies, slower demand and firm crude prices limit any improvement in the spread. Asia ADA sees plant shutdowns amid supply overhang By Josh Quah 11-Apr-24 11:25 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s adipic acid (ADA) markets have begun to crack under the cost pressure and weak demand from the main polyurethane (PU) downstream sector. Fitch downgrades China rating outlook to ‘negative’ as debts pile up By Pearl Bantillo 10-Apr-24 15:16 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s fiscal challenges amid rising government debt and its prolonged property slump weighing on recovery prospects prompted Fitch to revise down its credit rating outlook for the world’s second-biggest economy to “negative” from “stable”. Korea trade body starts antidumping probe on China SM imports By Luffy Wu 09-Apr-24 14:18 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The Korea Trade Commission has decided to initiate an anti-dumping investigation on imports of styrene monomer (SM) from China. INSIGHT: Positive China Q1 data overshadowed by property sector gloom By Nurluqman Suratman 09-Apr-24 12:00 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China's economic narrative in early 2024 reflects a 'tale of two cities', with its ailing property sector once again playing the crucial protagonist against recent data which offered flickers of hope for the country's continued recovery this year. Saudi Arabia hikes benchmark May Arab Light OSP for Asian customers By James Dennis 08-Apr-24 18:15 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude exporter, increased its Official Selling Prices (OSP) for its benchmark Arab Light crude for customers in Asia for the second month in succession. Oil slumps by more than $2/bbl on Israel-Hamas ceasefire hopes By Nurluqman Suratman 08-Apr-24 12:23 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Oil prices fell by more than $2/barrel on Monday amid easing tensions in the Middle East after Israel further withdrew troops from southern Gaza and signalled a willingness to resume ceasefire talks with Palestinian militant group Hamas.


Snowpack surplus may curb Italian power and gas prices

SWE volumes flip to surplus on Italian Alps for the first time in two years – CIMA This should support Italy’s hydropower margins and pressure power, gas prices Snowmelt should lift water reservoirs above average, boost hydro and limit gas needs LONDON (ICIS)–Abundant snowfall on the Italian Alps through February and March boosted the snowpack after two years of deficit from severe drought, which has resulted in a confident outlook for hydropower generation this summer and could pressure Italian power and gas prices. For the first time in two years the Italian Alps’ snow water equivalent (SWE) volumes, a measure of the water contained in the snow, flipped above the median over the last 12 years, in particular the Po river basin, Italy’s largest river, shown by data up to 1 April published by the Italian CIMA Research Foundation’s study on 4 April. This was a significant improvement from the first part of the past winter, when CIMA’s data initially indicated a snowpack deficit. The surplus of SWE volumes brings some security of supply as most of Italy’s water reservoirs and hydropower plants are located in proximity to the Alpine region. However, CIMA warned that while the overall SWE volumes for Italy showed a slight surplus, the central and southern basins were recorded at a deficit. Although, the deficit is unlikely to cause a risk for hydropower supply, as most of the capacity is concentrated in the north. “The reason for these differences [between the Alps and the Apennines] is, as always, linked to rainfall and temperatures,” said Francesco Avanzi, hydrologist at the CIMA Foundation, in the report. Avanzi also said that March had more precipitation in the northern and central region of Italy, but on the other hand the Apennines had temperatures that were more than 2.5°C higher compared to the average of the last decade throughout winter, which led to less snowfall and early melting of the snow. The study showed that further snowfalls are very unlikely, while early snowmelt could also represent a risk in the hottest summer months if it leads to a lack of water from the mountains over the third quarter. “For [the SWE surplus] to be truly useful in the periods when we need water most, the snow must remain snow for a few more weeks” Avanzi indicated in the report. IMPACT ON POWER The snow surplus can support the refill of water reservoirs and hydropower supply margins, providing secure supply of power. Additionally, higher SWE levels can reduce heatwave-related risks for the gas-fired generation plants located along the Po river. During past summers, heatwaves and low river levels caused gas plants to curb their power output due to difficulties in cooling their systems. Italy has 22.1GW of hydropower generation capacity, mainly from run-of-river and poundage and pumped hydro storage, according to ENTSO-E data. In 2023 hydropower generation totalled 39.3TWh, accounting for more than 15% of the total generation and representing the country’s top renewable generation source and the second power supply source behind gas, according to grid operator Terna. Wider hydropower supply margins means that cheaper electricity could be available this summer, therefore pressuring Italian power products and narrowing their premium to key European neighbours. IMPACT ON GAS Stronger hydropower output could also reduce the need for gas-fired generation this summer and result in lower gas consumption for producing electricity, which is potentially a bearish factor for PSV prices with delivery this summer. Combined-cycle gas turbines are Italy’s main source of power supply, with a 45.1GW-strong fleet and a total output of almost 134TWh in 2023, accounting for more than 52% of the total power supply mix over the same year. In 2023, Italy consumed 21 billion cubic metres of natural gas for electricity generation, or 35% of the total gas consumption according to gas grid operator SNAM. Improving hydro margins could further pressure Italian gas demand, continuing the declining trend seen in 2023. Note: Snow water volume graphs published with the permission of CIMA Research Foundation


China petrochemical futures track crude gains on upbeat March factory data

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s petrochemical futures markets were tracking gains in crude prices on Monday, with Brent trading at above $87/bbl, on bullish sentiment following a return of the world’s second-biggest economy into manufacturing expansion mode. Official, Caixin March manufacturing PMIs at above 50 China methanol, SM futures prices lead gains External demand picking up for selected goods At the close of morning trade, futures prices of major petrochemicals in Chinese commodity exchanges were up by 0.2% to 1.7%. China petrochemical futures markets Prices as of 03:30 GMT (CNY/tonne) % change vs 29 March Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) 8,279 0.60% Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 5,803 0.20% Ethylene glycol (EG) 4,499 0.50% Polypropylene (PP) 7,542 0.80% Styrene monomer (SM) 9,451 1.40% Paraxylene* 8,534 0.70% Purified terephthalic acid (PTA) * 6,016 1.30% Methanol* 2,518 1.70% Sources: Dalian Commodity Exchange, *Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange At midday, Brent crude was up 30 cents at $87.30/bbl, while US crude gained 31 cents at $83.48/bbl. Crude futures were also supported by expectations of tighter supply amid output cuts by OPEC and its allies, which include Russia. Manufacturing activity in China expanded for the first time in six months, based on official data in March, generating a purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reading of 50.8, as companies accelerated production following the Lunar New Year holiday in the previous month. A separate reading by Chinese media group Caixin was more upbeat, with a higher March PMI reading of 51.1, the highest recorded since February 2023. In Caixin’s data, factory output continued to expand for the fifth straight month. The Caixin PMI surveys small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and export-oriented enterprises located in eastern coastal regions, while the official PMI is tilted toward larger state-owned enterprises. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below denotes contraction. “Both supply and demand expanded at a faster pace amid the market upturn. In March, growth in manufacturers’ output and total new orders accelerated, with the former hitting a 10-month high,” Caixin Insight Group senior economist Wang Zhe said. “External demand also picked up pace thanks to the recovery in the global economy, pushing the gauge for new export orders to its highest level since February 2023,” the economist added. “Overall, the manufacturing sector continued to improve in March, with expansion in supply and demand accelerating, and overseas demand picking up,” Wang said. “Manufacturers increased purchases and raw material inventories amid continued improvement in business optimism. However, employment remained in contraction and a depressed price level worsened,” Wang added Besides the seasonal effect, firming overseas demand also helped to push up Chinese factory activities, local brokerage Haitong Securities wrote in a note, citing that furniture, transportation equipment and electronics were enjoying strong demand. China is projected to post around a 5% GDP growth this year, slower than the 5.2% pace recorded in 2023, with a slumping property sector posing a major drag on overall economic prospects. Property and other related sectors account for about a fifth of China’s GDP. While the property slump may persist, other sectors such as electric vehicles, new energy and digital economy are posting healthy growth, said Zhang Junfeng, senior analyst at Shenzhen-based brokerage China Merchant Securities. Focus article by Fanny Zhang ($1 = CNY7.23) Additional reporting by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: At Lianyungang Port in east China's Jiangsu Province, 26 March 2024. (Shutterstock)


Asia top stories – weekly summary

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Here are the top stories from ICIS News Asia and the Middle East for the week ended 28 March 2024. Asia PX supply to decrease; demand outlook uncertain By Samuel Wong 28-Mar-24 13:08 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Supply for paraxylene (PX) in Asia is expected to gradually decrease heading into the second quarter of 2024 as a result of several planned maintenance shutdowns. INSIGHT: GCC signs deal with Turkey to start FTA talks as part of diversification plans By Nurluqman Suratman 28-Mar-24 00:54 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) recent deal with Turkey to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) further signals the bloc's commitment to diversify away from oil revenues. PODCAST: A tale of two olefins – diverging trends in Asia's olefins markets By Julia Tan 27-Mar-24 19:11 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia's ethylene (C2) market will see northeast Asia supply in Q2 remain ample on the back of relatively high run rates at northeast Asian crackers. Saudi Aramco eyes further chemical investments in China with local partners By Nurluqman Suratman 26-Mar-24 12:03 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has a "vitally important" place in Saudi Aramco's global investment strategy, with the energy giant actively developing additional investment opportunities with its Chinese partners in the chemicals sector, Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said. China’s Sinopec 2023 profit falls 13% as chemicals incur loss for second year By Fanny Zhang 25-Mar-24 15:14 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Chinese producer Sinopec posted a 12.9% decrease in full-year 2023 net profit as product prices fell across the board, dragged down by operating losses in chemicals. Asia PC makers grapple with poor Chinese demand By Li Peng Seng 25-Mar-24 10:57 SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia’s polycarbonate (PC) makers have been struggling to raise prices in China recently due to slow demand, while production costs continue to rise.


LOGISTICS: No impact yet on shipping rates after Baltimore bridge collapse; Asia-US container rates fall further

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore is wreaking havoc on logistics and freight movements in the immediate region, but the incident has yet to have any impact on shipping rates, and costs for shipping containers from Asia to the US continue to fall, highlighting this week’s logistics roundup. PORT OF BALTIMORE The Port of Baltimore remains closed to all vessel traffic following the bridge collapse early Tuesday morning. The unified command (UC) said on-scene crews continue to assess and monitor for spilled oils and hazardous substances to prevent further discharge or release into the marine environment as 14 containers on the Dali that were holding hazardous materials were impacted during the collision. The chemical components assessed were soap products, perfume products, or not otherwise specified resins, the UC said. Salvage efforts have begun but will take some time and according to the local US Coast Guard authorities the port is officially closed for the near future. Some of the chemical products most likely impacted are caustic soda, veg oil, base oils, ethanol, biodiesel and a variety of others. South African producer Sasol told ICIS that a terminal inside the port with the company’s name has not been used by the company since it opened its major facility in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Specialty chemical producer WR Grace has a terminal in the port, according to a map of the port on the Maryland state government’s website. The company did not immediately respond on Friday to questions about the terminal. The port is one of the largest in the US for auto imports and exports. Global shipping major MSC is advising customers that passage to and from the port will not be established “for weeks if not months”. Containers already on the water will be rerouted and discharged at an alternate port where they will be made available for pick-up upon completion of the usual import documentary procedure, MSC said. Customers with containers at the origin, whether gated in or booked but not yet gated, need to contact the origin booking office immediately to decide whether they wish for the cargo to be carried to the alternate ports in the US. Judah Levine, head of research at online freight shipping marketplace and platform provider Freightos, said more vessels arriving at alternative ports, or longer port calls as vessels offload more containers, could cause some congestion at those ports, meaning delays for shippers. “But ocean freight is now in its slow season between Lunar New Year and peak season that typically starts in June or July,” Levine said. “And at the moment there is no significant congestion at any of the major East Coast ports.” CONTAINER RATES FALL FURTHER Average global rates for shipping containers continue to fall after surging in December when Houthi rebels began attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. Shippers began to divert away from the Suez Canal because of the attacks, which added days and sometimes weeks to traditional trade routes and tightened available capacity. Shippers brought all floating capacity online, increased sailing speeds and brought into service newbuilds to help alleviate the situation. Softer overall demand also helped ease stressed supply chains. Average rates and rates from Shanghai to the US and Europe have fallen steadily since the first of the year according to supply chain advisors Drewry and as shown in the following charts. Levine said the Baltimore closure could put some upward pressure on rates but that he expects it would be temporary. Container ships and costs for shipping containers are relevant to the chemical industry because while most chemicals are liquids and are shipped in tankers, container ships transport polymers, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), which are shipped in pellets. They also transport liquid chemicals in isotanks. LIQUID TANKER RATES STEADY While many tanker shipping routes from the Americas remained subdued with no significant price changes, the Transatlantic eastbound route remains firm as there continues to be a lot of interest seen in the market this week, although space remains tight. On the bunker side, fuel prices have been steadily decreasing as well on the back of softer energy prices; however, week over week remain relatively mixed. PANAMA CANAL Wait times for non-booked vessels ready for transit edged higher this week, according to the PCA's vessel tracker and as shown in the following image. Wait times last week were 1.2 days for northbound traffic and 1.4 days for southbound traffic. Additional reporting by Kevin Callahan Thumbnail image shows the Dali and the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, from


Saudi Aramco eyes further chemical investments in China with local partners

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has a "vitally important" place in Saudi Aramco's global investment strategy, with the energy giant actively developing additional investment opportunities with its Chinese partners in the chemicals sector, Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said. The global oil major’s strategic goals in chemicals are “well-aligned” with China’s, he said in a keynote speech at the China Development Forum in Beijing on 25 March, noting that the country “is already a powerhouse representing 40% of global [chemical] sales”. Aramco, through its chemicals arm SABIC, is planning to increase its liquids-to-chemicals throughput to 4m barrels per day by 2030, Nasser said. Saudi Aramco accelerated its push into China’s refining and petrochemical sector last year with strategic investments that are aligned with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 diversification goals. This includes the 10% stake acquisition in Rongsheng Petrochemical Co for $3.4bn last year. Saudi Aramco, together with Chinese partners Norinco Group and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group (PXIG), is also building a 300,000 bbl/day refining and ethylene-based steam cracking complex in Panjin City, in northeast China's Liaoning province at a cost of around $12bn. The Liaoning project is expected to come online in 2026. “We are also pleased that SABIC’s partnership in Fujian is on-track to commence construction of a major chemicals facility at an estimated cost of $6.4 billion,” Nasser said. The Fujian complex will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene (C2) capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polycarbonate (PC), among other products. SABIC’s other major investments in China include three compounding plants in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing; a joint venture with Sinopec in Tianjin; a technology centre in Shanghai and a customer centre office in Guangzhou. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Demand for lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) materials – especially advanced composites and non-metallics in general – is growing rapidly, Nasser noted. Aramco’s research efforts in developing GHG materials are consistent with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stance that sustainable development is the “golden key” for future success, he said. “We agree with China’s pragmatic and prudent approach to energy transition…I believe there are wide-ranging opportunities to jointly develop advanced GHG emission reduction technologies.” China has distinct strengths in renewables and critical materials, while Aramco and Saudi Arabia have a clear interest in solar, wind, hydrogen, and electro fuels, Nasser said. “These areas have great long-term potential, and combining our strengths could match our ambitions,” he added. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman


INSIGHT: Controversial EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation approaches adoption

LONDON (ICIS)–Details of the provisional agreement on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) have been published, containing a number of wide-ranging elements which will reshape the packaging sector across the next two decades. The regulation is now reaching its final stages but has faced a fraught journey through the various legislative chambers of the EU and has remained divisive among both legislators and the markets. Under the provisional agreement the regulation will introduce: Mandated packaging recyclability Minimum recycled content and reuse targets across packaging – albeit with potential derogations based on availability of recycled material Mandatory deposit return schemes (DRS) and separate packaging collection targets New reporting and labelling obligations The extension of extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes A restriction on the placing on the market of food contact packaging containing per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) above certain thresholds A restriction on plastic collation films except for transportation purposes The possibility of bio-based plastic contributing to recycling targets The allowance of imports to count towards recycling targets provided they are of similar quality as domestic material and have been separately collected The Committee of the Permanent representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union (Coreper) endorsed the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation on 15 March following amendments to the provisional agreement reached by the EU Parliament and EU Council (but not endorsed by the EU Commission) during the trilogue negotiations. The European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) endorsed the provisional agreement on 19 March. NEW RE-USE TARGETSBy 1 January 2030, 40% of most transport packaging used within the EU – including e-commerce – will need to be reusable and ‘within a system of reuse’. This includes pallets, foldable-plastic boxes, boxes, trays, plastic crates, intermediate bulk containers, pails, drums and canisters of all sizes and materials, including flexible formats or pallet wrappings or straps for stabilisation and protection of products put on pallets during transport. From 2040 this will increase to 70%.  Some players said that this amounted to a defacto ban on flexible plastic transport packaging because of the difficulty in reaching the reuse target. By 2030, 10% of grouped packaging boxes for stock keeping or distribution will need to be re-usable. Controversially, cardboard boxes will be exempt from these reuse targets, which could see an increased shift to the material. Dangerous goods transport packaging, large scale equipment transport packaging, and flexibles in direct contact with food and feed as defined in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, and food ingredients as defined in Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 will also be exempted. By 2030, distributors of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage sales packaging will need to meet a 10% reuse target, which will increase to 40% by 2040. Some classes of alcoholic beverage, including highly perishable alcoholic beverages will be exempted. RECYCLABILITY AND REUSEBy 2030 all packaging must be recyclable or reusable. To be classed as recyclable, packaging must be: Designed for recycling Separately collected Sorted in to defined waste streams without affecting the recyclability of other waste streams Possible to be recycled so that the resulting secondary raw materials are of sufficient quality to substitute the primary raw materials Packaging recyclability performance grades are to be established by packaging category and classified as grades A, B or C. After 1 January 2030 any packaging that falls below grade C will be restricted from sale in the market. After 1 January 2038 packaging classified below grade B will be banned from sale in the market. Under the legislation, along with design for recycling assessments from 2035 an additional assessment will be added based on the weight of material effectively recycled from each packaging category – with the packaging categories under the design for recycling assessment established in Article 6 paragraph 6 of the provisional agreement. The EU Commission will be given power to adopt delegated acts to establish the detailed criteria for the design for recycling criteria under the packaging categories, with criteria to be set-out by 1 January 2028. Also from 2035, a requirement that material be ‘recycled at scale’ will be added to the recyclability assessment, with the EU Commission able to amend the thresholds. The definition of packaging waste recycled at scale requires separate collection sorting and recycling of material across the EU as a whole (including of waste exports) in installed infrastructure for each of the packaging categories of at least 55% for all materials except for wood which requires at least 30%. Assessments of recyclability will include the impact on recycling systems of the inclusion of things such as barriers, inks and labels. By the end of 2026 the EU Commission will be required to prepare a report on ‘substances of concern’ that might negatively affect recycling or reusability, with additional restrictions added for those substances under recyclability assessments. Member states will be able to request the EU Commission consider restricting substances they consider detrimental to recycling. Within 7 years from the date of application of the regulation, the Commission will be required to evaluate whether the design for recycling requirements have contributed to minimising substances of concern. A five-year exemption on meeting recyclability targets will be given for innovative packaging, along with an exemption for medical goods and medical goods packaging, dangerous goods and packaging for food-contact material specifically made for infants. Sales packaging made from lightweight wood, cork, textile, rubber, ceramic or porcelain is also expected to be exempted from most of the recyclability requirements. MINIMUM RECYCLING TARGETS FOR THE PACKAGING CHAINUnder the provisional agreement, from 1 January 2030, or three years after the introduction of the related implementing act (whichever is later) all plastic packaging placed on the market in the EU must include a minimum percentage of recycled content from post-consumer waste – by weight – of: 30% for contact sensitive packaging (this is generally packaging that comes into contact with food or medical supplies), excluding single-use bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as the major component 10% for contact sensitive packaging made from plastic materials other than PET, except single use plastic beverage bottles 30% for single use plastic beverage bottle 35% for all other packaging By 2040, this will increase to: 50% for contact sensitive plastic packaging made primarily from PET, except for single use plastic beverage bottles 25% for non-PET contact sensitive plastics, with the exception of single use beverage bottles 65% for single use beverage bottles and all other plastic packaging The recycled content targets will allow the use of material from ‘third countries’ – those outside of the EU – the allowance of which has been one of the most contentious and heavily lobbied parts of the bill on either side of the argument. Material from outside of the EU will need to have been separately collected, and have equivalent specification to the requirements listed in the PPWR, the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), and the Directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment ((EU) 2019/904). Medical packaging, transportation of dangerous goods, compostable plastic packaging and food packaging for infants and young children will be exempt from the recycled targets. The Commission is obliged to adopt implementing acts establishing a methodology for the calculation and verification of these recycled percentages by 31 December 2026. The Commission will be able to amend the targets based on "excessive prices of specific recycled plastics" and on the grounds that the amount of recycled content would pose a threat to human health or result in non-compliance with Regulation (EC) 1935/2004 – or to any plastic part representing less than 5% of the total weight of the whole packaging, which would typically include things such as functional barriers. By 1 January 2028 the Commission will be required to assess the need for further exemptions from recycled content targets for specific plastic packaging based on a lack of suitable recycling technologies. It will have the power to introduce implementing acts to amend the recycled content targets based on those assessments. Member states will also be able to exempt economic operators from reuse targets for 5 years as long as: that Member State has reached 5 percentage points above the 2025 recycled targets for recycling of packaging waste per material It is expected to reach 5 percentage points above the 2030 target (as assessed by the EU Commission) It is on track to meet waste prevention targets under the PPWR It has reached a 3% waste prevention by 2028 compared with a 2018 baseline The economic operators have adopted a corporate waste prevention and recycling plan that contributes to achieving the waste prevention and recycling objective The five year exemption can be renewed by Member States provided the conditions remain filled. This would appear to lead to the prospect of uneven trading conditions across the EU. The targets will be calculated by year and manufacturing plant. The 2030 targets under the PPWR will replace the targets set out in the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) from 2030, but the pre-2030 targets in the SUPD will remain. EPR schemes will be extended under the legislation and must be set-up to ensure that fees to producers (or those with producer responsibility in the case of imports) are sufficient to cover the ‘full waste management’ cost of packaging waste, but actual fees are not stipulated in the legislation. The provisional agreement states that players contributing to EPR schemes should be given priority access at market prices to recycled material corresponding to the amount of packaging placed in a Member State by each individual economic operator. SINGLE-USE PLASTICS, PACKAGING WASTE TO LANDFILL, AND PFAS BANSThere will be further bans on single-use plastics introduced by the PPWR, which remain broadly inline with those proposed in the EU Council’s bargaining position. Significantly, for the recycled low density polyethylene (R-LDPE) flexible market this includes a ban on plastic film wrap grouping bottles, cans, tins, pots, tubs, or packets together in multi-packs at point of sale, but will not include wrap used for business-to-business distribution. This could also impact on pyrolysis-based chemical recyclers because post-consumer flexibles have been identified by the sector as a potential key feedstock source. The agreement also includes a ban on food-contact packaging containing PFAS above certain thresholds. There will also be a restriction on sending packaging waste that can be recycled to landfill or incineration, which could result in a higher sorting requirements and costs for waste managers. BIO-BASED MATERIALBy three years from the entrance in to force of the PPWR the EU Commission will be obliged to review the state of technological development and environmental performance of bio-based plastic packaging. Following this, the Commission will be required to bring forth legislative proposals for targets to increase the use of bio-based plastics in packaging, this will include the possibility of bio-based material contributing to recycling targets for food-contact material where recycled material is not available. This is likely to impact most heavily on the polyolefins and polystyrene sectors. CHEMICAL RECYCLINGThe original commission draft appeared to clarify and support the use of chemical recycling as counting towards the targets as long as its end use is not for fuel or backfill. In a blow for chemical recyclers, however, the wording around definition of recycling has been removed, and now refers back to Directive 2008/98/EC which forms the basis of the majority of EU recycling legislation definitions. Directive 2008/98/EC defined recycling as “any recovery operation by which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances whether for the original or other purposes. It includes the reprocessing of organic material but does not include energy recovery and the reprocessing into materials that are to be used as fuels or for backfilling operations." This has left the legal status of chemical recycling uncertain, particularly for pyrolysis – the dominant form of chemical recycling in Europe – where mixed plastic waste is commonly converted to pyrolysis oil – a naphtha substitute – before being reprocessed into recycled plastics. MEMBER STATE TARGETS AND DEPOSIT RETURN SCHEMES (DRSs)Member state targets and obligations to implement DRSs remain broadly the same as in the EU Council’s bargaining position paper. The exception is that the figure on the collection figure for member states to exempt themselves from a DRS scheme has been increased to 80% by weight of applicable packaging placed on the market for the first time in 2026, up from 78% in the EU Council's bargaining position. The legislation's passage through the EU has been fraught, with the EU Commission objecting to the provisional agreement between the Parliament and the Council, and with widespread talk circulating in the run up to the vote that the members would not support it at Coreper. These factors are understood to be behind the last minute amendments. The regulation now faces a final approval vote in the EU Parliament’s April plenary session, if it passes that vote it will be adopted in to law. Insight by Mark VictoryAdditional reporting by Matt Tudball Clarification: recasts detail in 51st paragraph


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