Ceresana Market Report Increasing Demand for Plastic Additives

Editor: Alexander Stark

Additives are crucial for plastics production. They protect plastics from degradation by processing, facilitate their processability, protect them against heat and UV rays, and expand the range of properties by modifying material characteristics. The market research company Ceresana analyzed the complete world market for all major plastic additives for the second time.

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Global demand for plastic additives amounted to approx. 33.3 million tonnes in 2017.
Global demand for plastic additives amounted to approx. 33.3 million tonnes in 2017.
(Source: Ceresana)

Constance/Germany — Global demand for plastic additives amounts to approx. 33.3 million tonnes per year. More than half of this amount was processed in Asia-Pacific. North America and Western Europe followed at a great distance. As plastics are more practicable and lighter most of the time, they increasingly replace other materials such as wood or metal. Therefore, demand for plastic additives will continue to increase in the years to come. The latest study of Ceresana examines the respective development of particular plastic additives in the 16 most important countries in detail.

Construction Industry Is the Major Consumer

Plastics are increasingly used in all industries as they are more safe, more reliable, more lightweight, and cheaper. Many plastics are used in the construction industry in particular: They are increasingly becoming the first choice regarding, among others, the thermal insulation of buildings. The construction industry has to be convincing in many disciplines, for example efficiency, quality, environmental, and fire protection. Hence, the highest amount of plastic additives worldwide is utilized in this application area. The second highest amount of plastic additives is processed in the segment packaging: Plastic packaging becomes more and more popular since it is light, easy to handle, microwavable, and visually appealing. It is possible to recognize the contents easily and the products remain preserved and rich in flavor for a long time. Ceresana also forecasts a continuously rising demand for plastic additives in this application area. Vehicle manufacturers and the electrical and electronics industry are important consumers as well.

No PVC Without Plasticizers

In this study, the use of additives in various plastic types is examined in more detail, that is, in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane, engineering plastics, and other plastics. Please note that the data given on PP, PA, and PET does not include synthetic fibers. Since PVC is a brittle, hard, and white material, the worldwide highest amount of additives is applied in this plastic type to adapt it to diverse applications. PVC manufacturers are by far the largest consumer of plasticizers, which make plastics softer, more flexible, smoother, and more elastic. For example, plasticizers are used for the production of cable sheathing and floorings.

Fillers Are Most Frequently Added

Over 50 % of the worldwide used plastic additives are fillers. Plasticizers and pigments rank second and third. More than 17.6 million tonnes of fillers were utilized for plastics in 2017. In general, cost-effective fillers increase the volume of the mixture of materials without altering the main characteristics. Additionally, the production of highly-filled plastics with properties tailored to meet the exact needs of individual costumers is rising as well: They contain up to 85 % of fillers, possess excellent mechanical properties, and are even more cost-effective than conventional materials in many cases.

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