Shenzhen, China — Sustainability was front and center at this year's Chinaplas trade show, with an expectation that even if the local market is lagging now it could catch up in short order.
Polyolefins maker Borouge Pte. Ltd., for example, was at the fair with its Bornewable product range launched last fall in Europe, using what the company said are renewable feedstocks entirely from waste streams like vegetable oil production or used cooking oil.
The resins in that product range are made in Europe and not yet available in China, but interest is growing, said Eddie Wang, senior vice president of the Asia North Pacific region for the Singapore-based firm, which is a 50-50 joint venture between Borealis AG in Austria and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.
"This is on the doorstep of the China market at the moment," Wang said in an interview at the fair, held April 13-16 in Shenzhen. "We have the first order already sold into the Japanese market, and we already have great interest from China customers."
He sees legislation as a driver.
"I believe we will see action from local Chinese legislation, like an industry standard to certify what is a true renewable source," he said. "When the legislation is there, that will hugely benefit the local industry, but it's not there yet. We are working with some local recycling partners to create a partnership so that we can develop new applications."
Similarly, polyolefins maker LyondellBasell Industries was at the show with its new Circulen product range, launched globally on April 12 using either recycled resins or feedstocks like cooking oil, and targeting it as a lower carbon offering for plastics in consumer products.
The materials supplier highlighted a collaboration with luggage maker Samsonite on its Magnum Eco suitcase collection, each made from the equivalent of 371 post-consumer yogurt cups and 10 plastic bottles.
The product line is already available in Europe, but it is not yet available in the China market, Limin Fu, vice president, JV management and polyolefins China, said on the sidelines of the Chinaplas media day April 12.
A Samsonite executive said the hope is to bring the suitcase line to China for production and sale.
"I think the consumer behavior is changing. They are asking more questions [about sustainable products]," said Patrick Kwan, senior director for supply chain at the luggage maker.
He is optimistic about the Chinese market for products like the recycled plastic suitcase, although the time has not come yet.
"It depends on the progress of our partners," he said. "In China, the condition is not that mature till now to have production move to China. We hope to do so … and we definitely will follow our partners on those directions."