Plastics markets and sustainability

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Plastics Markets

Recycling has barely penetrated the largest polyester fiber segment

About three-quarters of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) is used to make fibers, but this is heavily concentrated in the production of polyester staple, and penetration of the largest fiber segment, textile filament, is still very small, according to Prem Chitkara, director/polyester and nylon fibers at IHS Markit....

Butyl rubber market will take years to recover from COVID-19

The market for butyl rubber (isobutylene isoprene rubber) contracted dramatically in 2020, exacerbating an already significant imbalance in supply and demand. With investment in new production capacity set to....

Polyolefins margins recovered quickly from COVID-19 last year

Polyolefin prices and producer margins recovered smartly from the onslaught of COVID-19 last year, say analysts at IHS Markit. "Earlier in 2020, we had expected demand for polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP)....

Polcarbonate oversupply continues to grow

Globally, polycarbonate production capacity is being added much more quickly than demand, but analysts at IHS Markit expect a tranche of rationalization during 2023–24 to push the market back toward balance....

Asia styrenics margins buoyed by tight supply, strong demand

Asian styrene prices have increased dramatically since early October, but the quarter may yet turn out well for downstream polymer producers, say analysts at IHS Markit. Buoyed by tight supply and solid demand, polystyrene prices....

Slowdown heightens price pressure in SAP market

Competition among producers of superabsorbent polymers, already fierce, has intensified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for diapers, which account for about 75% of SAP demand globally, held up amid the subsequent global economic collapse, but....

Textile filament driving growth in nylon fibers demand

The nylon fibers market has been on a roller coaster ride in recent years, with demand rising sharply through 2018, losing momentum in 2019, and plummeting in 2020. Demand will rebound in 2021, and the market will resume growth, according to 2021 World Analysis: Nylon Fibers, newly published by IHS Markit....

Polyethylene margins and demand defy global economic slowdown

Polyethylene (PE) margins and demand have been surprisingly resilient, given the extraordinarily bearish market conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, say analysts at IHS Markit. During the second-quarter, world GDP declined by 23.1%, with US GDP....

Engineering resins slump on declines in key end markets

Demand for engineering resins will drop this year owing to the sharp decline and slow recovery of key end markets damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, say analysts at IHS Markit, but they forecast a rebound in 2021. IHS Markit expects world GDP to contract 5.5% in 2020, a steep decline from the 2.6% growth of 2019....

Pandemic takes toll on North American PE sales

After surging to record highs during the first quarter, North American polyethylene (PE) demand quickly fell back as COVID-19 lockdowns took effect in April, according to data collected by the American Chemistry Council (ACC). Year-to-date (YTD) sales remained well ahead of 2019, but preliminary data show continued weakness in May

Export dependence drives North America PE plant idling

Ethane-based production and growing export markets have left North American polyethylene (PE) producers especially vulnerable to the low crude oil prices and global economic collapse.

Massive overcapacity holds China EPS operating rates below 50%

The global market for expandable polystyrene (EPS) is way out of balance, but the situation varies dramatically by region. EPS demand grew at an annual average of 2.2% per year over the last five years.

WPC 2020: China could become PP net exporter on capacity surge

Increasingly self-sufficient in polypropylene (PP), China has the potential to become a net exporter of the resin, says Joel Morales, executive director/polyolefins, Americas at IHS Markit. Iinexpensive propane imports and the country’s highly efficient project resource base could support an internationally competitive cost position.

Plastics Markets

COVID-19, oil crash to drive big shift in PVC trade

IHS Markit expects the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices to significantly reroute global polyvinyl chloride (PVC) trade by cutting into demand and transforming regional cost positions. First-half 2020 PVC demand in northeast Asia is likely to fall 1.1 million metric tons short of IHS Markit's initial forecast.

Revised forecast puts global PP demand growth at 0.6% in 2020

IHS Markit has sharply lowered its forecast of 2020 polypropylene demand by 2.5 million metric tons to account for the economic disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic and collapsing oil prices. Global market growth, formerly estimated at 3.8% in 2020, is now expected to be just 0.6%.

IHS Markit: Quarantines, oil shock wipe out 2020 PE demand growth

The combined shock of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) quarantines and plunging crude oil prices will cut global polyethylene (PE) demand by about 4 million metric tons this year, essentially wiping out all of the growth that had been forecast.

COVID-19: China petchem ops recover with help from crude

Petrochemical operations in China are ramping back up, supported by the slowing spread of COVID-19, government economic measures, and the recent crash in crude oil prices, according to a report issued today by IHS Markit's market advisory service. Polyolefin production is returning to normal, although inventories are high and downstream converters are struggling.

COVID-19: PE and PP demand set to surge in China as operations ramp up

Downstream derivatives demand for polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) in China is set to surge in March as the country’s manufacturers continue to ramp up plant operations, although inventories for these products remain at a high level.

New China plastics bans could affect polyethylene trade

China, having banned imports of plastic scrap, is now tackling the problem of plastic waste internally. On 19 January, the government announced new regulations that will prohibit or severely limit the domestic production and use of various plastic products step-wise in the years ahead. The resulting shifts in China's domestic market could add to the challenges faced by net exporters of polyethylene, say analysts at IHS Markit.

Bill aims to fix US recycled plastics shortage

A bill proposed by two US senators aims to increase the amount of recycled plastic available to large businesses to help them meet sustainability goals. The Recycle Act, sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), would authorize $15 million per year over five years in grants to help improve recycling education and outreach.

Growing supply to pressure PVC margins in 2020

Falling feedstock costs and growing import competition continue to pressure polyester staple fiber (PSF) prices in the US, even with demand at its annual low, and the situation is likely to deteriorate further in the year ahead, say analysts at IHS Markit.

Feedstocks, imports weigh on US polyester staple fiber prices

Falling feedstock costs and growing import competition continue to pressure polyester staple fiber (PSF) prices in the US, even with demand at its annual low, and the situation is likely to deteriorate further in the year ahead, say analysts at IHS Markit.

Plastics Markets

Nylon markets to integrate and consolidate as margins tighten

Narrowing margins and supply chain uncertainty in the nylon-6 and -6,6 markets are driving producers toward greater vertical integration and consolidation.

Tough times for SAP producers

Producer margins for superabsorbent polymers (SAP) will remain slim next year, say analysts at IHS Markit.

Slowing capacity growth means strong outlook for PVC producers

The global polyvinyl chloride (PVC) supply/demand balance has improved significantly over the past few years, the result of rationalization during 2015–16, the slowing pace of Chinese expansion, and steady demand growth, according to analysts at IHS Markit.

PET will be key to meeting EU plastics recycling targets

Europe's plastics industry will be leaning heavily on the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) sector to meet targets set by the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, an initiative launched by the European Commission in 2018.

Auto slowdown squeezes natural rubber producers

Already struggling with oversupply, the natural rubber industry, which is located mainly in Southeast Asia, now faces a persistent slowdown in the key automotive market.

Growing interest in PMMA recycling

Interest in circular economy has reached such a pitch that recycling efforts are intensifying even for smaller-volume, higher-value plastics such as polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).

Tariffs push new US PE production out of China, into Europe and SE Asia

The tariff war between the US and China has caused a clear shift in polyethylene (PE) trade patterns, with US volumes of high-density and linear-low density polyethylene (HDPE, LLDPE) redirected to markets outside China, and producers in the Middle East and Southeast Asia stepping in to fill the gap.

US Gulf Coast ethane crackers build up head of steam

Lotte Chemical’s recently held official inauguration of an ethane cracker in the US is another milestone on the Gulf Coast’s journey toward an export-driven future.

Plastics Markets

New study shows widespread development, growing success of chemical recycling

High-profile partnerships and urgent demand have pushed a handful of chemical-recycling technology providers into the limelight, but many more are waiting in the wings, according to a new study from Closed Loop Partners, an investment firm focused on t he circular economy.

GPS 2019 preview: Plastics market faces historic challenges, evolves sustainability strategies

The worldwide plastics market is facing “historic challenges” after a record period of growth, with headwinds developing that could substantially impact the market's future, according to Nick Vafiadis, IHS Markit vice president/plastics.

EPS balance to improve on sharp decline in capacity growth

Global capacity to produce expandable polystyrene (EPS) far exceeds demand. Ten years ago, booming demand sparked a surge in new capacity investment, mainly in China, but the market failed to keep pace.

IdentiPlast 2019: Industry alliances tackle plastics in the environment

Several high-profile industry alliances have been launched in the last six months to tackle the increasingly urgent challenge of plastics in the environment, including marine litter.

Flood of new capacity darkens polycarbonate outlook

With demand slowing but supply set to surge, polycarbonate producers are looking at difficult years ahead, say analysts at IHS Markit.

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Regional polypropylene price trends | January 2021

In December, new unplanned outages kept the US market extremely tight, and the price gap versus Asia neared historic levels....

Plastics Markets

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