Demand for plastic additives grows rapidly
According to the latest research report from Townsend Polymer Services & Information, a consulting firm headquartered in Houston, USA, the global plastic additives market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 4.5% in the next three years. These growth drivers and the progress of globalization and pressure from regulation are reshaping the market with a total market value of 32 billion U.S. dollars.
Townsend pointed out that Asia continues to be the fastest growing market in the global plastics additive market. The demand for China's plastics additives market has surpassed any other market in the world and accounts for about 28% of the global demand for plastic additives.
According to Townsend, the fastest growing species in the global plastics additive market is flame retardant, which accounts for 14% of the plastics additives market, and plasticizers are still the world’s largest consumer of plastic additives, accounting for approximately 54% of the market demand. At present, the market share of global plasticizers has reached 11 billion US dollars, of which polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the largest user of plasticizers, accounting for about 90% of the global total demand for plasticizers.
However, Townsend also pointed out that the current global plastic additives market is facing some challenges, including the recent decline in global polyolefin production and increasingly strict supervision. Recent phthalate ester plasticizers such as dioctyl phthalate (DOP/DEHP) or diisodecyl phthalate (DINP) have been criticized more and more. The United States has decided to ban six phthalates for use in toys and child care products since 2009. Studies have shown that such products pose a risk to human health, including birth defects, reproductive problems and some special cancers. The forthcoming US phthalate ban is affecting the plastic additives industry.
Townsend pointed out that 87% of all plasticizer products contain phthalates, which will be hit by bans and current chemical companies are trying to find alternatives to phthalates.
At the same time, the production of bio-based plasticizers for polymer formulation production is growing. Archer Daniels Midland and PolyOne have announced plans to collaborate on the development of polymer products based on corn and oilseeds. Bio-based plasticizers will gradually replace traditional petroleum-based plasticizers.
The global plastic additives industry is undergoing a large-scale M&A restructuring. According to statistics from the Townsend Corporation, in the past four years, there have been many M&A deals in the global plastics additives industry, 21 in the plasticizers and 17 in the flame retardant industry. These transactions included the purchase of flame retardant manufacturer Supresta by the Israeli Chemical Company (ICL) in 2007 for US$352 million.