BASF Plastic Additives: Investing globally in high-performance manufacturing sites
Presentation by Dr. Frithjof Netzer
Senior Vice President
Plastic Additives Asia Pacific
As resources are becoming scarcer, lightweight and stable plastics will continue to gain in importance, replacing less sustainable materials in industries as diverse as automotive, building & construction, agriculture or electronics. Thanks to advanced Plastic Additives technologies, plastics can be used in under-the-hood applications in the automotive industry where they can withstand very high temperatures, creating lighter and more energy efficient engines. In building and construction, light stabilizers and flame retardants enable progressive replacement of alternative materials in roofing or glazing for instance. In agriculture, additives allow stabilizing plastic films used in greenhouses and maximizing selective plant growth.
Market leader and global supplier for additives
The aforementioned additives are highly sophisticated and turn plastics into high-performance materials. That is why the additives market will continue to grow in the future. It will grow faster than the global economy because the demand for high-tech plastics is increasing at a strong rate, particularly in the growth regions. As the market leader and the only truly global supplier BASF is playing a key part in this growth.
With its broad product range, BASF is today uniquely positioned in the extraordinarily diverse additives and pigments market. BASF is the world leader in the fields of antioxidants, light stabilizers and pigments with a broad catalogue. It also supplies additional additives as diverse as antistatic, anti-scratch or flame retardant along with the appropriate application expertise. Furthermore, BASF is the only supplier to have production and R&D sites in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle-East, and it is continuously investing there.
This means that BASF can provide security of supply, consistent quality and innovation support virtually anywhere in the world. That – along with the technical expertise which is the result of many years of pioneering and close partnership with its customers – is an important advantage that is much appreciated by the market.
BASF will continue to exploit the opportunities presented by its global presence in the Plastic Additives sector even more aggressively. Two pillars are critical for this approach: a re-enforced presence with own production sites in the fastest growing markets, namely Middle East and Asia, and investment in growth and production capacity for innovative additives.
Polyolefin additives for Gulf States customers
BASF’s Gulf States customers primarily produce polyolefins in world-scale production sites with continuous operation processes. The introduction of additives in such polyolefin production streams can be a considerable challenge due to harsh weather conditions. BASF is the world leader in CSBs, Customer Specific Blends, which represent pre-packaged blends of additives tailored to meet the individual needs of local customers. CSBs are a significant advantage when producing in difficult conditions and BASF has developed several proprietary technologies to maximize efficiencies in this area. Users in world-scale plants such as those in the Middle East benefit particularly from CSBs, which are characterized by simpler and more accurate dosing and better dispersibility. Additives supplied in a particularly low-dust version also make an important contribution to improving workplace hygiene and safety.
New production site in Bahrain
BASF has established the only global manufacturing footprint for CSBs in line with anti-oxidant production and is today capable to follow its customers virtually anywhere in the world with consistent quality. This is why one of BASF's most recent investments has been set up for CSBs in Bahrain. Within a short period of 13 months the plant was completed. It is based on patented technology in which BASF has invested a two-digit million euro amount, and with a capacity of 16,000 tons, it is one of the largest of its kind in the world. When it came on stream it also created dozens of jobs for highly-skilled local people who had been locally trained by BASF.
In Bahrain, BASF is mainly producing CSBs based on extruded Irganox® antioxidants for use in polyethylene and polypropylene. The plant therefore perfectly complements the CSB sites in Europe, US and Asia and at the same time brings BASF even closer to the market. The new plant in Bahrain operates to the highest safety standards and incorporates state-of-the-art environmental management; it has ISO 9001:2008 certification, among others. Both of these are important factors for many customers because about 80 percent of the local buyers produce for export.
Investment in the Singapore plant
The antioxidant production site in Singapore, a key site for the Asian market, is currently being expanded to meet the growing and specific needs of Asia and the Middle East. In this way, BASF is not only adding to its production footprint in those regions, but also strengthening its position as the top global supplier, providing high supply security.
BASF expects to start producing Irganox 1010 in various product forms in Singapore in the second half of 2013. This product sets the standard for low-volatility and low-discoloration phenolic antioxidants for a wide range of applications. Many of the blends being produced in Bahrain also contain this successful product, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2013. The Singapore site will help secure and even strengthen BASF's position as the market leader.
Research on high-performance additives
The second main focus of BASF's strategy in the additives sector is to deliver on its tradition of being the innovator and pioneer. The company has the largest R&D team in the world in plastic additives and is accelerating its focus on key functionalities. Leveraging a three-digit million amount since 2009 BASF invests in research and development. BASF helps customers to meet ever changing regulatory requirements by supplying high-performance additives and developing alternatives to existing systems. Users who have to make their plastics suitable for specialty applications such as long life polycarbonate sheets and low emission polyurethanes for car seats are benefitting greatly from BASF’s advanced additive solutions.
Among other things, this will help increase further the demand for differentiated HALS and NOR-HALS light stabilizers such as Chimassorb® 2020, Tinuvin® NOR 371 and Tinuvin 1600 in the BASF Triazine family. For example, the highly effective UV absorber Tinuvin 1600 that was introduced in 2011 protects thin layers of plastic for exterior applications lasting way over ten years; Tinuvin NOR 371 is resistant to many agricultural chemicals and is recognized as the best additive for films that need to resist pesticides.
Modern plants in Europe and further expansion
The capacity of the production sites making HALS and NOR-HALS stabilizers, such as Pontecchio in Italy and Lampertheim in Germany, has already been greatly increased since 2011. Thanks to further investments in these sites, waste gas combustion and solvent recycling units were matched to the new capacity, making these state of the art plants the most advanced production sites in the world.
Overall, BASF is investing several hundred million euros in expanding its additive production and R&D sites over the next five years. Strengthening its presence in global growth markets and investing in additives for high-performance applications will enable BASF to meet the needs of its customers even better in the future, and maintain its position as market leader and only truly global supplier in a highly promising market.
About BASF Plastic Additives
BASF is a leading manufacturer, supplier and innovation partner of additives and pigments for the plastics industry such as ultraviolet (UV) light stabilizers, antioxidants and process stabilizers, organic and inorganic pigments, effect pigments, and other additives.
More information about additives: www.plasticadditives.basf.com
Press photo: At www.basf.com/pressphoto-database, under "Plastics" or enter the search term "Irganox". Text and photo will also be available shortly in the Plastics press archive of BASF at: www.basf.de/plastics/pressreleases