Afternoon Coffee: Texas’ freezing storms cause plastics supply chain disruption; EU proposes new start-up standards; PRO recap: Airbase, Robobai, payable strategies

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Last month’s power outages in Texas has led to many chemical plant's continued shutdowns — disrupting the global supply chain for raw materials to make plastics, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The outages brought the world’s biggest petrochemical complex to a halt, which forced more plants in the Gulf of Mexico region to shut down than during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. A month after freezing, many remain offline. The article said it could be months before all are fully back.

The prices for polyethylene, polypropylene and other chemical compounds used to make auto parts, computers and other plastic products have reached their highest levels in years. The article said this will likely lead to cost increases and delays for automakers, home builders and other businesses, with impacts ultimately felt by consumers.

“We had no idea how much came from the Gulf Coast area,” John Schiegg, vice president of supply chain services for David Weekley Homes, told the WSJ. “I tell people it’s going to get ugly. There’s going to be a big fight for materials.”

These shortages have also been seen in polypropylene resin. The website Plastics Today reported that this week, demand for resin waned a bit and prices eased as panic-buying of the material subsides. But most US resin producers remain in force majeure, and pellets remain in high demand and short supply.

EU proposes new start-up standards to catch up to the US and China

In an effort to ramp up innovation, the European Commission proposed on Friday a set of start-up standards for member states to adopt, according to CNBC.

The EU Start-up Nations Standard asks countries to change laws on stock options and immigration visas so that European start-ups can attract the best talent from anywhere in the world. So far, 25 countries in the bloc signed up to the framework, the article said.

Tech founders in Europe have called for reforms to help start-ups flourish in Europe and catch up to the United States and China.

“We need more start-ups in Europe that grow quickly into innovative small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and then eventually scaling up into even large successful corporations that contribute to Europe’s digital sovereignty and strategic autonomy,” the Start-up Nations Standard reads. “To do so, start-ups in every corner of the EU need favorable and fair conditions to grow at every stage of their lifecycle.”

Spend Matters' analysts look at Airbase, Robobai and payable strategies

This week, Spend Matters PRO analyst Nick Heinzmann provided a solution overview of Airbase, an AP automation solution provider. In other PRO coverage, analyst Michael Lamoureux gave a deep dive of Robobai, a source-to-contract provider. Finally, analyst David Gustin kicked off a five-part series of payable strategies for the long-tail by first offering tips for businesses to assess the current payments situation.

Our PRO subscribers can read the full articles, but all readers can see the lengthy intros that frame the issues being discussed. This week:

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