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Polymer Industry

Keep on Track, Despite Market Turmoils: The Future of Polymers

| Author / Editor: Dominik Stephan* / Dominik Stephan

The Map of Polymers: Regional shares in Global Polyer Production
The Map of Polymers: Regional shares in Global Polyer Production (Source: © cunico, © raeva/Fotolia.com; Grafik: PROCESS; Quelle: statista)

K2016, the leading fair and expo for plastics and polymers wants to set the industry’s new course between shale gas, feedstock fluctuations and the internet of things — New raw materials. Energy prices. Demand fluctuation: Business as usual is no option for the global plastics industry. The branche is nevertheless cautiously optimistic at the sector fair K — Industry 4.0, light-weight construction and recycling management still promise new perspectives.

From light-weight building blocks through new materials right up to revolutionary recycling management concepts — the plastics industry is looking for new ways. In this context, alternative resources and feedstock are regarded with the same exited anticipation as the concept of the networked industry. And the market dynamic speaks for itself: 59 million tons of plastics were produced in Europe in 2014 — an increase by nearly 3.5 percent compared to 2012.

The prices for basic materials like polyolefins are slowly becoming attractive, especially since several major producers failed due force majeur related short-term production standstills in 2015. No one however wants to speak about a genuine upsurge — in general, cautious optimism seems to be in vogue.

Moderate Growth in Europe

The good figures could become a light at the end of the tunnel for the trouble-ridden and buffeted industry. Even the tiniest signs of hope are also absolutely essential, as polymer producers are still suffering under the solid decline in sales following the recession of 2008–2009 and the subsequent crisis in the Euro zone in 2012–13.

Additional Information
 
A Talk with Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, President and CEO, Messe Düsseldorf

Marker researchers like Applied Market Information now predict an average 1 % growth per year up to the end of the decade. But how stable is this development given the background of the turmoil in the worldwide petro- and polymer industry?

Integrated Poylolefins Witness 'Historic' Margins

More and more players continue to throng the market: Asian and Mid-Eastern mega plant projects announced in the mid-2000s are going on-stream with time, while cheap shale gas is ensuring a boom in the US downstream sector. European polymer producers nevertheless continue to be optimistic. Mark Garrett, CEO of Borealis even speaks of “historical” margins in the integrated polyolefin industry.

A solid demand and delivery bottlenecks due to unplanned production interruptions would have converted the raw material into goods in demand, explains the manager. The reports of several European industry associations take the same line, which predicts a clear growth in the plastics processing industry in Europe. Even in the weakening Italian market, the plastics machine manufacturers’ association Assocomaplast is happy about a “clear upward trend”.

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