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K-Interview: UniteChem on the fast growth track
Source:Adsale Plastics Network     Editor:VC    Date:15.Aug.2022

At the K fairground, UniteChem Group will be presenting its latest offering to global visitors. Not just expanding its product portfolio, the leading light stabilizer supplier headquartered in Jiangsu province of China is in its journey of global investment. In this Q&A with CPRJ, Jan Kreibaum, Global Strategy Director, explained the strategies and progress.

 

UniteChem is expanding its European footprint. How is it going with the newly opened sales office in Düsseldorf?

 

Jan Kreibaum: We established Unitechem GmbH in Germany in mid-2020 and were able to quickly establish our operations at our Düsseldorf office, though it was quite challenging in the middle of the pandemic. Together with our logistics partner, we also established a reliable warehouse and logistics hub in Antwerp, Belgium.

 

Please share the development road map of the Group in Europe.

 

Jan Kreibaum: As our sales are growing strongly in Europe, we are also growing our team. To meet the differing customer needs across Europe we have hired sales professionals with different language capabilities, for example, Italian to better serve the very important Italian market.

 

We are also planning to expand our warehousing network in Europe, with another hub in southern Europe. We are of course also growing our product offering to meet the needs of our customers. We are in the middle of a significant investment journey with new plants coming on stream to meet the growing demand for our core light stabilizers.


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Jan Kreibaum, Global Strategy Director, UniteChem Group.

 

With respect to polymer additives, what are the key market trends of the European market? What application sectors have high growth potential?

 

Jan Kreibaum: Some markets in Europe are showing robust growth even during the more challenging recent times. The major growth market for polymer additives is the agricultural films market, with Spain and Italy driving this growth with the installation of new greenhouses requiring high-performance pesticide-resistant polyethylene films.

 

Building & Construction is also continuing to show strong growth in Europe, with increasing needs to stabilization in pipes, cables, window frames, profiles, floor and wall coverings, cable insulation sub-segments.

 

Finally, we also foresee continuing growth in specific engineering polymer applications such as aerospace, solar panels, E&E and appliances.

 

Among the exhibits at K 2022, which are new products? 

 

Jan Kreibaum: Among the exhibits, LS-2020 and LS-119 are recently launched light stabilizers. The LS-4050 (a low-molecular weight HALS for thick-wall items), several halogen-free bisphenol A bis(diphenyl phosphate) BDP and piperazine pyrophosphate (PAPP) flame retardants for demanding applications such as multi-fiber push on (MPO) connectors, and two high-heat polyamide (PA) stabilizers for automotive parts and fibers are products that we will soon offer.

 

We also plan to offer new chemistries such as NO-R HALS products for the important European agricultural films industry, as well as nucleating agents for polyolefins, PET, PBT and PLA. Our technical sales staff will be happy to discuss these further with visitors at the K trade fair.


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UniteChem supplies light stabilizers for plastics in a broad range of high-end industrial applications.

 

What are the focuses of product R&D in the context of circular economy and climate neutrality?

 

Jan Kreibaum: UniteChem’s R&D group is currently focusing its efforts on 3 main pillars. Firstly, we constantly evaluate all the synthesis processes of our existing products and whenever possible improve their efficiency, reduce the energy consumption, and minimize emissions.

 

Secondly, we develop new processes that minimize solid waste generation at the source, while recycling any remaining wastes.

 

Finally, we have launched a program to develop new product solutions to support low-carbon recycling applications throughout a product’s life cycle. This is a complex topic as the plastic recycling value chains are very heterogeneous and require a consolidated effort.

 

UniteChem has scheduled several new plants in China for the next few years. While increasing production capacity, what will be done to ensure sustainable production at its sites?

 

Jan Kreibaum: UniteChem’s production philosophy has always been “safety and environmental protection first”. Our new production plants will be constructed by incorporating infrastructure, including DCS automatic control systems, SIS safety instrumentation systems, wastewater treatment systems, regenerative thermal oxidization (RTO) thermal storage incineration waste gas treatment systems, hazardous waste incineration systems, etc.

 

As described above, our R&D department is regularly updating our processes. As a specific example, we are adopting a new and more sustainable technology for synthesizing benzotriazole UV absorbers in a proprietary catalytic hydrogenation reduction. 


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Three UniteChem plants are scheduled to come on-stream in China in the next few years.

 

Unitechem is also investing in dedicated recycling, reuse and reduction initiatives at its production sites. Installed capabilities today include 280,000 m³/hr of waste gas treatment using RTO technology, 1,800 m³/day of wastewater treatment, and 8,800 tons/year of solid chemical waste treatment.

 

With the aim to further enhance our ESG capability, a new dedicated ESG department has been set up, which reports directly to the CEO and third-party agencies.

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