The start-up of Trinseo’s new acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plant in Zhangjiagang, China marks a key cornerstone of its global presence.

“We have capacity in Midland [Michigan, US], Terneuzen [Netherlands] and now Zhangjiagang. This is the completion of our global footprint to serve key customers around the world,” said Tim Stedman, senior vice president and business president at Trinseo. He made his comments in an interview with ICIS.

The plant, with a capacity of 75,000-80,000 tonnes/year of mass ABS under Trinseo’s MAGNUM brand, will serve not only the local Chinese market, but others in Asia and the rest of the world, he added.

Stedman

The capacity ranges depend on what grades of mass ABS are produced, he said. “This world-scale plant is essentially a mirror image of what we do in the rest of the world,” said Stedman. “And whereas many ABS plants in China are just for the local market, this for us is a global plant that can also serve other parts of the world.”

Trinseo produces its ABS through a mass polymerisation technology that it says delivers greater product stability and advanced properties.

It can reduce costs for injection moulding, sheet and profile extrusion, and self-colouring, while offering long lasting superior aesthetics in the final product, the company claims.

The mass ABS is superior in quality to emulsion ABS, which is more commonly produced, noted the executive.

“It is really a question of value – creating value for our customers – versus just being a commodity. It is clearly a specialty product,” said Stedman.

The company will sell its ABS into the automotive market (in particular for interiors), as well as for appliances, electronics, lighting and consumer goods.

“We will focus on developing in China, markets and applications that require our mass ABS. Customers are excited to have a supply source for mass ABS in China,” said Stedman.

The Chinese government crackdown on pollution and polluting industries is not expected to have a material impact on Trinseo’s new ABS operations or market demand in China, he said. “However, we do see the broader sweep of public opinion playing into the strength of our MAGNUM ABS, as it offers lower VOC emissions and lower odour,” said Stedman.