Global Specialty Plastics Consumption to Reach 25.3 Million Tonnes by 2017

Global specialty plastics consumption is forecast to grow during the period 2012–17 at a CAGR of 5.3% to reach 25.3 million tonnes.

According to Smithers Rapra, global specialty plastics consumption grew during the period 2007–12 at a CAGRof 0.6% to reach almost 19.6 million tonnes. Specialty plastics consumption grew at a much slower pace in 2008 compared with the previous five years, and contracted in 2009 as a result of the global economic downturn. Demand recovered in 2010 as the world moved out of recession, but growth slackened in 2011 and 2012, due to a further weakening in the world economy. Global specialty plastics consumption is forecast to grow during the period 2012–17 at a CAGR of 5.3% to reach 25.3 million tonnes.

The Future of Specialty Plastics examines the three recognized material markets that define a specialty plastic: engineering plastics, high performance plastics and fluoropolymers. It discusses key drivers and trends within the industry including economic influences, material substitution, and recycling methods. This report also delves into some of the cutting edge technological developments currently being employed within the medical, industrial, and automotive industries. End-use and geographic markets are also thoroughly depicted with over 130 tables and figures.

Specialty plastics have traditionally grown at a rate at least double that of standard thermoplastics, but market growth has slowed down during the five-year period to 2012. Specialty plastics demand declined as a result of the global economic downturn. In addition, specialty plastics have reached a high level of market penetration in many end-use applications in key markets such as automotive, electrical and electronics and consumer products. The search for new and faster-growing markets and applications is an ongoing issue for the industry.

The global market for specialty plastics is worth $74.0 billion in 2012 and is forecast to grow during the period 2012–17 by 5.5% to reach $97.0 billion. Key drivers and trends for specialty plastics include lower market growth, new applications, material substitution, technology developments, recovery and recycling targets and rising prices.

Material substitution is a key market driver for specialty plastics. The replacement of traditional materials such as metal, glass and thermosets will continue to support industry growth over the forecast period. However, the rate of material substitution by specialty plastics is slowing down as the market penetration rates reach saturation point in a number of key applications.

Technological advancement in materials, processing and products also continues to drive development of specialty plastics markets. Advanced composite materials, which incorporate dispersions of carbon fibre, carbon nanotubes or graphene into the polymer matrix to produce materials with improved properties, offer enormous potential for specialty plastics. Polymer nano-composites, where nano-sized filler materials such as nanoclays are dispersed within the polymer matrices, are also gaining ground in demanding applications for specialty polymers.

Engineering plastics account for by far the largest share of total specialty plastics market tonnage in 2012, above high-performance polymers and fluoropolymers. High-performance plastics and fluoropolymers are, however, at the top of the price range, and are therefore more important in revenue terms. ABS/SAN is easily the largest of the engineering plastics, accounting for over 40% of specialty plastics consumption in 2012. Polycarbonate is the second largest material, followed by polyamide.

Asia has continued to strengthen its position as the dominant producer and consumer of specialty plastics over the five-year period to 2012. There has been a major shift eastward in specialty plastics production during the decade to 2012. Asia, and in particular China, has rapidly grown specialty plastics production capacity during the five-year period to 2012 to reach a global market share of almost 63%. Europe and North America have both lost market share of production capacity during the same period. Europe now accounts for just less than 21%, with North America representing 16% of production capacity. There is relatively limited production capacity in other world regions at present.

Asia is forecast to have grown its share to around two-thirds of global specialty plastics consumption in 2017. Western Europe and North America, on the other hand, are set to lose further market share. Specialty plastics consumption in Central and Eastern Europe and South and Central America is forecast to grow slightly ahead of the global market average rate.

The Future of Specialty Plastics is available as bound copy, electronic version, and global usage license. It is available for immediate download for £3950 For more information, please contact Bill Allen (UK) T: +44 (0) 1372 802086 E: ballen@smithers.com