Sponsored By

ExxonMobil Sold on Sustainable Solutions at Chinaplas

Monomaterial packaging structures, chemical recycling, recyclate-incorporating grades, and lightweighting for automotive applications took center stage at the mega-show.

Stephen Moore

May 13, 2024

3 Min Read
ExxonMobil booth at Chinaplas
Image courtesy of ExxonMobil

At a Glance

  • All-polyethylene solution an alternative to PET-based structures.
  • Capacity at ExxonMobil’s Exxtend unit in Baytown, TX, projected to be 500,000 tonnes/year by the end of 2026.
  • ExxonMobil building multi-billion-dollar chemical complex in China to meet continued demand for virgin polymers.

There was something for — almost — everyone from ExxonMobil at Chinaplas in Shanghai last month. One highlight was a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) solution for machine-direction-oriented (MDO) blown film. Grade 7165L is a core component of pouches designed for recyclability, imparting stiffness to the structure.

“7165L was designed specifically with MDO in mind, and we also bring our Exceed mLLDPE [linear-low-density PE with metallocene catalysts] material into the structure. They combine to deliver an all-PE solution that can replace PET-based structures,” noted Matt Loach, PE global marketing manager, at an offsite interview with PlasticsToday during the show. “Collaboration across the entire value chain was also important for successful project execution.”

Other pouches on show were an MDO cast-film process mono-material stand-up pouch and a nine-layer ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) co-extruded, high-barrier MDO PE substrate film, providing outstanding stiffness for downstream convertibility.

ExxonMobil also noted the critical role that its Vistamaxx performance polymers play in replacing conventional sealants in cast polypropylene (cPP) films to provide low seal initiation temperature (~90°C) as well as a broad hot-tack window that enables monomaterial laminate designs that can improve recyclability. Recent PlasticsToday coverage on monomaterial MDO packaging can also be found here.

Advancing chemical recycling.

ExxonMobil’s Loach also emphasized the promise that his company perceives in its Exxtend chemical recycling technology for addressing sustainability. “With this technology, we feed plastic waste directly into an integrated asset that breaks it down to the monomers that are, in turn, fed to a steam cracker,” he noted. “With Exxtend technology, we are feeding a mixture of different length chains with additives and other contaminants, not solely the monomers,” he added. In terms of energy efficiency, Loach noted that every 1,000 tonnes of waste plastics processed using Exxtend technology results in 185 to 525 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (19 to 49%) lower greenhouse-gas emissions compared with processing the same amount of fossil-based feedstock.

Currently, ExxonMobil operates a 40,000-tonnes/year Exxtend unit at its Baytown, TX, site. “The plan is to have 500,000 tonnes/year of capacity in place by year-end 2026,” said Loach.

Heightened performance requirements placed on virgin resin.

Higher levels of recycled resin usage in combination with virgin resin places more demanding performance requirements on the virgin component to address the performance shortfalls of the recycled component. ExxonMobil thus sees the need for continued investment in virgin polymer production capacity, particularly for its high-performance PE and polypropylene (PP) portfolios.

Case in point: The company is progressing a multi-billion-dollar chemical complex in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, in China with more than 2.5 million tonnes per annum of high-performance PE and PP capacity. Phase one of the project, located in Dayawan Petrochemical Industrial Park, is progressing faster than planned and on track for startup in 2025, according to ExxonMobil.


EVs are buzzing in China.

Part of the PP will undoubtedly find its way into new energy vehicles (NEVs), headed by electric vehicles (EVs), a market segment where Chinese OEMs are racing toward global domination unless trade barriers are raised. Here, Achieve Advanced PP offers interior and exterior lightweighting opportunities. This includes a neat resin solution for door panels and trim, and a glass-fiber-reinforced PP to replace metal or engineering plastics. Bead foaming technology enabled by the incorporation of Vistamaxx performance polymers can offer additional opportunities for lightweighting automotive parts.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like