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Biden’s PEB recommends pay increases for rail workers in
      effort to avoid strike
Biden’s PEB recommends pay increases for rail workers in effort to avoid strike
HOUSTON (ICIS)–The emergency board appointed by US President Joe Biden to help avert a possible strike by rail workers recommended significant increases to pay and benefits in its report this week, setting up a framework for continued negotiations over the next 30 days. In a statement, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said the recommendations from the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) “markedly exceed the rail carriers’ proposal” but do provide a useful basis to reach a conclusion. The PEB was appointed on 15 July after a vote by members of the rail workers union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), came in at 99.5% in favour of going on strike. AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies said the report sets the framework for the parties to be able to reach a negotiated agreement. “The recommendations would provide 24% compounded wage increases by 2024, with 14.1% of those increases effective immediately, along with additional service recognition bonuses totaling $5,000 over the course of the contract,” Jefferies said. “An agreement based on these terms would lead to the largest general wage increase in nearly 40 years.” The National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), a part of the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC), is representing the nation’s freight railroads in the negotiations. NCCC said that the recommendations would include the most substantial wage increases in decades – with average rail worker wages reaching about $110,000 per year by the end of the agreement. “When health care, retirement, and other benefits are considered, the value of rail employees’ total compensation package, which already ranks among the highest in the nation, would average more than $150,000 per year,” the NCCC said. BLET representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a statement on its website said leadership along with legal counsel is continuing to analyse the report and meet with all general chairmen before making a comment. The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD), one of the parties on the labour side, said it is still evaluating the findings in the 124-page report. “While other sources may rush to respond, your union is committed to sharing factual information regarding the PEB while achieving the best outcome possible for rail labor,” SMART-TD said in a statement posted to its website. “There will be additional updates from SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson as the situation evolves.” But according to posts on Twitter, union members are unlikely to be happy with the proposal, suggesting it does not do enough to address quality of life issues such as work schedules, hours of work, time off and attendance policies. In the US, chemical railcar loadings represent about 20% of chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest. In Canada, producers rely on rail to ship more than 70% of their products, with some exclusively using rail. Thumbnail image shows a railroad track. Image by Shutterstock.
LNG VIDEO: Asia buyers eye winter LNG supply while charter
      rates, ICIS TTF rise
LNG VIDEO: Asia buyers eye winter LNG supply while charter rates, ICIS TTF rise
HOUSTON (ICIS)–This short outlook video on the LNG market looks at: This week’s record high ICIS TTF benchmark prices Rising charter rates Asia winter demand
PODCAST: Weak demand, energy costs and logistics key for
      Europe oxo-alcohols
PODCAST: Weak demand, energy costs and logistics key for Europe oxo-alcohols
LONDON (ICIS)–The European oxo-alcohols and derivatives markets are facing the seasonal low demand that affects many markets during August, although extremely high energy costs and logistics constraints driven by low water levels on the Rhine are causing some complications Glycol ethers report editor Cameron Birch speaks to oxo-alcohols editor Nicole Simpson, acrylate esters editor Mat Jolin-Beech and butyl acetate (butac) editor Nick Cleeve about the current conditions on these markets and expectations for the near future.
Singapore July petrochemical exports fall 4.2%, NODX slows to
      7.0%
Singapore July petrochemical exports fall 4.2%, NODX slows to 7.0%
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Singapore’s petrochemical exports fell by 4.2% year on year in July to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.4bn, the first contraction in four months, weighing on overall non-oil domestic exports (NODX), official data showed on Wednesday. The country’s NODX fell to 7.0% year on year to S$17.8bn in July, slowing from the 8.5% expansion in June this year, Enterprise Singapore data showed. Non-electronic NODX, which includes pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals, rose by 6.1% year on year to S$13.7bn in July. Non-electronic NODX to six out of Singapore’s top 10 NODX markets rose on a year-on-year basis in July.
Japan's July chemical exports rise 15.9%, overall shipments
      grow 19%
Japan’s July chemical exports rise 15.9%, overall shipments grow 19%
SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Japan’s chemical exports rose by 15.9% year on year to yen (Y) 1,017bn in July, supporting the overall growth in shipments abroad, official data showed on Wednesday. The country’s exports of organic chemicals rose by 30.6% year on year to Y198bn in July, while shipments of plastic materials were up by 8.0%, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a statement. On a volume basis, exports of plastic materials fell by 8.3% year on year to 456,257 tonnes in July. Japan’s overall exports rose by 19% year on year to Y8,753bn in July while imports were up by 47.2% at Y10,190bn. The country’s exports to China rose by 12.8% in July, while shipments to the US were up by 13.8%.
Nuanced discussion of US plastics EPR legislation takes
      centre stage at Resource Recycling Conference in Austin, TX
Nuanced discussion of US plastics EPR legislation takes centre stage at Resource Recycling Conference in Austin, TX
HOUSTON (ICIS)–Bringing to a close Day 1 of the Resource Recycling Conference, six panellists from across the recycling and plastic packaging value chain discussed the good, the bad and the ugly of US plastics extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation. Though relatively new to the plastics packaging space, EPR has been applied in the US for the end of life management of several other items, such as electronics and mattresses. Globally, other countries such as Canada and many throughout Europe have already adopted plastics related EPR. EPR programmes are widely viewed as solutions to reducing plastic waste, by adding additional layers of responsibility on producers for end of life product management. Essentially, EPR programmes are any solutions that shift end of life cost from municipalities to the producer, summarised Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services. If implemented correctly, EPR programmes should increase the amount of plastic waste collected, and thus available for the growing recycled plastics market. Within the last two years, four states have passed plastics packaging related EPR bills, Oregon, Maine, Colorado and most recently California. Though these bills are all grouped under EPR, each individual programme varies significantly based on the set-up of the Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) and the distribution of authority and rulemaking. Panellist Bree Dietly, principal at Breezeway Consulting, commented “I believe three out of four should not be classified as EPR,” on the grounds that three states broadly removed producer power to change or influence the programme. Others noted the importance of robust advisory systems, whether through councils or joint management strategies. This way, stakeholders are able to be involved in determining the “rates and dates” for performance requirements from the programme, said Shannon Crawford, director of recycling and environmental policy at WM. In addition to rates and dates, some programmes grant the PRO with the authority to determine end markets for secondary commodities. When discussing the California EPR programme, Keller said, “Material might have to go to a different end market if CalRecycle gets to define what a ‘responsible’ end market is.” This would not only impact the economic modelling of MRFs, but also the availability of supply for recyclers and reclaimers across the country. Despite the low confidence in a national EPR programme being introduced, several states continue to consider EPR bills prior to the close of the summer legislative session and in preparation for 2023. While EPR brings the potential for increased plastic collection, these programmes also come with a multitude of challenges, as municipalities, MRFs, recyclers and producers navigate the implementation of each individual programme. Beyond implementation, panellists emphasised the importance of flexibility within programmes, as waste streams, consumer habits and end markets evolve with time. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced how drastic things can change, as commercial and office based recycling diminished, and at home e-commerce introduced record levels of shipping packaging, often called the “Amazon effect”. In terms of future consumer behaviour, several panellists voiced concern that if consumers were given free or increased collection access, they may abuse it. “We have customers who use the bin as a second garbage can” commented Keller. Aside from increased access to recycling, EPR programmes do no directly incentivise consumers to recycle. “The US is a consumer culture, we like to buy things.” said Preston Peck, recycle reset project lead at the City of Tacoma. “They are not going to recycle more because the price of aluminium just spiked,” commented Dietly. Instead, through EPR producers will be economically invested in collection in order to supplement feedstock prices and overall product costs. But, all four state programmes do harmonise on one thing, the importance of consumer education. All four EPR bills require support for educational outreach to consumers, hoping to not only boost collected volumes but reduce system contamination in the process. Though no system is perfect, collaborative conversations such as these are critical for the success of future EPR programmes. The Resource Recycling Conference will run through Wednesday, 17 August, in Austin, Texas. Thumbnail image shows PET flakes
PODCAST: Highlights of Resource Recycling Conference in
      Austin, TX
PODCAST: Highlights of Resource Recycling Conference in Austin, TX
AUSTIN (ICIS)–Recycled Plastics Senior Analyst Sunny Roe and Senior Editor for Recycled Plastics Emily Friedman discuss the latest developments at the 2022 Resource Recycling Conference in Austin, Texas, including: Collaborative conversations with the full recycling value chain (Municipalities, Material Recovery Facilities/MRFs, Recyclers, Package producers and Brand owners) on todays biggest challenges, including contamination and commodity price volatility. Sessions covering development of recycled product end markets and improvements or additions to US collection infrastructure and systems. A preview of Emily’s joint session “Getting Real on Plastics” providing market data on US recycled plastic capacity and thus supply, along with projected demand based on corporate recycled content targets and legislation.
US Koch Fertilizer to increase UAN production at Kansas
      facility
US Koch Fertilizer to increase UAN production at Kansas facility
HOUSTON (ICIS)–US Koch Fertilizer announced it is planning a $30m optimisation project at its Dodge City, Kansas, nitrogen plant to increase UAN production by 35,000 short tons per year. The producer said the lift in output will help meet growing UAN demand locally as well as across western Kansas and eastern Colorado. In addition the project will further improve the facility’s reliability as well as environmental and safety performance through equipment and process upgrades. Construction is scheduled to begin during early 2023 and the optimised processes are expected to be fully operational by the end of the year. “We are dedicated to being our customer’s long-term supplier of choice by providing the products they value most,” said Scott McGinn, Koch Fertilizer executive vice president. “This investment reflects Koch Fertilizer’s commitment to continued growth and reinvestment in our plants.” Koch noted that the Dodge City investment follows three recent Koch Fertilizer expansion projects at their operations in Beatrice, Nebraska, Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Enid, Oklahoma.
TOPIC PAGE: Sustainability in the fertilizers industry
TOPIC PAGE: Sustainability in the fertilizers industry
Updated on 16 August with the latest headlines. On this topic page, we gather the latest news, analysis and resources, to help you to keep track of developments in the area of sustainability in the fertilizers industry. LATEST NEWS HEADLINES Canada’s fertilizer emission goal raises food production concerns By Erica Sesay 16-Aug-22 15:38 LONDON (ICIS)–Canada’s emission lowering goal has raised some concerns in the agriculture sector about a possible reduction in the country’s future crop yields. Northern Nutrients produces new nitrogen sulphur fertilizer, targets autumn sales By Manuja Pandey 04-Aug-22 10:37 LONDON (ICIS)–Canada’s Northern Nutrients has created a new nitrogen sulphur fertilizer, named Triple Kick, which contains 38% nitrogen, 18% sulphur as well as a source of carbon, the company said in a statment. Ameropa and Hynfra sign deal to explore green ammonia, methanol By Julia Meehan 15-Jul-22 12:50 LONDON (ICIS)–Ameropa and Hynfra, a Polish-based company focused on clean energy, renewable hydrogen and ammonia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the development and marketing of renewable ammonia and methanol projects. Canada invests about $1.7m towards high-efficiency fertilizer By Erica Sesay 11-Jul-22 12:11 LONDON (ICIS)–Canada’s Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food has announced an investment of up to CAD1.7m for Calgary-based Sulvaris to further develop new technology to produce high-efficiency fertilizers made with organic carbon. Highfield Resources announces launch of community initiative at Muga Potash project By Mark Milam 01-Jul-22 21:52 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Spanish fertilizer firm Highfield Resources announced that the Muga Community Initiative, a new public-private partnership created to help promote local development around the Muga Potash mine, has been officially launched. US Mosaic and BioConsortia expand collaboration to microbial biostimulant By Mark Milam 14-Jun-2022 HOUSTON (ICIS)–US fertilizer producer Mosaic and BioConsortia have entered into a new agreement to distribute BioConsortia’s new microbial biostimulant in Asia. IMO deems Mediterranean Sea area for sulphur oxides emissions control By Morgan Condon 14-Jun-22 14:47 LONDON (ICIS)–The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has designated the entire Mediterranean Sea as an area for emissions control, the UN agency announced on Tuesday. Canada’s Soilgenic launches new enhanced efficiency fertilizers technology for retail By Erica Sesay 13-Jun-22 17:06 LONDON (ICIS)–Canada’s Soilgenic Technologies has announced the development of the second generation of its enhanced efficiency fertilizer (EEF) formulations for the retail market. Austria’s Borealis aims to produce 1.8m tonnes/year of circular products by 2030 By Jonathan Lopez 10-Jun-22 09:25 MADRID (ICIS)–The company, which recently announced the divestment of its emissions-intensive fertilizers division, also said it aims to more than halve its Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to below 2m tonnes/year by 2030, down from the 5.1m tonnes of emissions it emitted in 2019. European Parliament rejects proposed carbon market reform By Jonathan Lopez 09-Jun-22 10:15 MADRID (ICIS)–The EU’s proposed reform of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) failed to pass in the European Parliament (EP) on Wednesday, dealing a blow to the 27-country bloc’s ambitious emissions policy. IFA ’22: southern Africa looks to bio-fertilizer as cheaper, sustainable option By Erica Sesay 31-May-22 10:05 VIENNA (ICIS)–The southern African agriculture industry is looking more into improving bio-fertilizers efficiency, as high costs make chemical fertilizers less accessible to farmers, a producer said. IFA ’22: Indian farmers will struggle to embrace specialty fertilizers – producer By Erica Sesay 31-May-22 12:48 VIENNA (ICIS)–Indian farmers will struggle to move on from traditional chemical fertilizers and embrace newer and more sustainable products, a producer said on the sidelines of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) annual conference in Vienna. Canadian Nutrien plans to build world’s largest clean ammonia facility in Louisiana By Mark Milam 18-May-22 23:31 HOUSTON (ICIS)–Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien announced it is evaluating Geismar, Louisiana as the site to build the world’s largest clean ammonia facility, which it estimates could achieve output of 1.2m tonnes/year. EU CARBON BORDER ADJUSTMENT MECHANISM (CBAM) EXPLAINED What is it? The risk of carbon leakage frustrates the EU’s efforts to meet climate objectives. It occurs when companies transfer production to countries that are less strict on emissions, or when EU products are replaced by more carbon-intensive imports. This new mechanism would counteract this risk by putting a carbon price on imports of certain goods from outside of the EU. How will it work? EU importers will buy carbon certificates corresponding to the carbon price that would have been paid, had the goods been produced under the EU’s carbon pricing rules. Conversely, once a non-EU producer can show that they have already paid a price for the carbon used in the production of the imported goods, the corresponding cost can be fully deducted for the EU importer. This will help reduce the risk of carbon leakage by encouraging producers in non-EU countries to make their production processes greener. A reporting system will apply from 2023 with the objective of facilitating a smooth roll out and to facilitate dialogue with non-EU countries. Importers will start paying a financial adjustment in 2026. How is the fertilizer industry affected? The fertilizer industry is one of the sectors to fall under the CBAM. The more energy-intensive nitrogen fertilizers will be affected most in the sector by the mechanism. DEFRA CONSULTATIONS EXPLAINED The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) launched a consultation at the beginning of November 2020 on reducing ammonia emissions from urea fertilizers. The consultation ran until 26 January 2021. It set out three options for tackling ammonia emissions: A total ban on solid urea fertilizers A requirement to stabilise solid urea fertilizers with the addition of a urease inhibitor. A requirement to restrict the spreading of solid urea fertilizers to between 15 January and 31 March of a given year. Liquid urea is excluded from any new rules or restrictions. DEFRA is currently analysing the feedback received. In March 2022, DEFRA announced that it had delayed introducing restrictions on the use of urea by at least a year to support farmers with fertilizer availability and keep their costs down Should DEFRA decide to restrict the use of urea in the future, growers would be left with just ammonium nitrate-based fertilizers. PREVIOUS  NEWS HEADLINES Japan’s JGC Holdings awards green ammonia plant contract to KBR US ReMo Energy launches green ammonia product to address fertilizer cost and climate change Norway’s Yara evaluates potential stock listing of Yara Clean Ammonia unit on Oslo Stock Exchange Saskatchewan government extends 4R Nutrient Stewardship agreement for three more years Anuvia Plant Nutrients secures funding to scale US production of sustainable fertilizer Verde AgriTech announces technology to incorporate microorganisms in fertilizer products Bayer to partner with Ginkgo to produce sustainable fertilizers OCI looking to expand Texas nitrogen output and create renewable fuel plant Australia Orica and H2U Group partner on Gladstone green ammonia project Canada sets tax credit of up to 60% for carbon capture projects Keras Resources increases ownership of the Diamond Creek Phosphate Mine in Utah UK delays urea restrictions to support farmers as fertilizer costs at record high EU states agree to back carbon border tax Yara to develop novel green fertilizer from recycled nutrients USDA announces plans for $250m grant programme to support American-made fertilizer Canada seeks guidance to achieve fertilizer emissions target Fertilizer titan Pupuk Indonesia develops hydrogen/blue ammonia business India launches green hydrogen/ammonia policy, targets exports Canada AmmPower to develop green hydrogen and ammonia facility in Louisiana US DOE awards grant to project to recover rare earth elements from phosphate production Fertiglobe, Masdar, Engie to develop green hydrogen for ammonia production Czech Republic’s Spolana enhances granular AS production India’s Reliance to invest $80bn in green energy projects Yara, Sweden’s Lantmannen aim to commercialise green ammonia by 2023 Novatek and Uniper target Russia to Germany blue-ammonia supply chain Fertz giant Yara goes green with electrification of Norwegian factoryCanada Arianne Phosphate exploring use of phosphate for hydrogen technology FAO and IFA renew MoU to promote sustainable fertilizer use Sumitomo Chemical, Yara to explore clean ammonia collaboration Sri Lanka revokes ban on imports Tokyo scientists convert bioplastic into nitrogen fertilizer Aramco plans Saudi green hydrogen, ammonia project China announces action plan for carbon peaking & neutrality Saudi Aramco targets net zero emissions from operations by 2050 Fertiglobe goes green with Red Sea zero-carbon ammonia pro Australian fertilizer major Incitec Pivot teams up for green ammonia study INTERVIEW: BASF to scale up new decarbonisation tech in second half of decade – CEO India asks fertilizer companies to speed up production of nano DAP Japan’s Itochu set to receive first cargo of blue ammonia for fertilizer use Norway’s Yara acquires recycled fertilizers maker Ecolan Bayer Funds US start-up aims to cut nitrogen fertilizer use by 30% BP: Green ammonia production in Australia feasible, but needs huge investment Origin and MOL explore shipping green ammonia from Australia India’s IFFCO seeks to export nano urea fertilizer Sri Lanka reinstates ban on import of chemical fertilizers Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030 RESOURCES IFA – Fertilizers and climate change  TFI – Sustainability report 
US housing starts fall 9.6%
US housing starts fall 9.6%
HOUSTON (ICIS)–US housing starts in July fell 9.6% month on month and 8.1% year on year, according to latest data from the US Census Bureau on Tuesday. US housing data, July 2022 Annual rate +/- from June 2022 +/- from July 2021 Housing starts 1,446,000 -9.6% -8.1% Building permits 1,674,000. -1.3% +1.1% HOUSING STARTS ICIS senior economist Kevin Swift said that at 9.6%, July’s decline in housing starts was larger than expected. It was the third decline in row. He made the following points: Single-family starts fell by 10.1% during the month, and the multi-family segment 8.6%. The latter is more volatile than the single-family segments. Single-family starts were off 18.5% year on year while multiple-family starts were up 18.0%. During July, housing activity fell sharply in the Midwest (-33.8%), south (-18.7%), and west (-2.7%). There was a large 65.5% gain in the northeast. Economists’ project housing starts of 1.60m in 2022 and with rising mortgage interest rates and affordability issues, starts will fall to 1.37m in 2023, and 1.26m in 2024, despite favourable demographics, Swift said. Housing starts were 1.61m in 2021. BUILDING PERMITSRegarding July’s building permits, the weakness was in the single-family segment, where permits fell 4.3%, the fifth monthly decline, the economist said. The single-family segment is more sensitive to higher interest rates and housing costs. Reflecting eroding affordability, single-family permits were off 11.7% year on year. Reflecting higher rents, multiple-family permits rose 2.8% in July and were up 23.5% year on year. Regionally, the weakness in July permits was led by an 12.0% decrease in the west and an 0.1% decline in the south. The weakness more than enough to offset solid gains in the northeast and Midwest. In related news, for the month of August, US home builder confidence swung to negative, ICIS reported earlier. The industry has entered a housing recession, brought on by tighter monetary policy from the Federal Reserve and persistently elevated construction costs, according to Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The housing market is a key consumer of chemicals, driving demand for a wide variety of chemicals, resins and derivative products, such as plastic pipe, insulation, paints and coatings, adhesives and synthetic fibres, among many others. The weakening US housing market has dragged down demand for some plastics and chemicals for which construction is a large end-market. US contracts for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) were assessed lower because of lower domestic demand and falling spot export prices. Additional reporting by Al Greenwood Please also visit the ICIS topic page on construction Thumbnail shows the hard hat that is worn by home builders and other construction workers. Image by Shutterstock.
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