Plastics are substances synthesized from a wide range of raw materials which can be easily molded into desired shapes on application of heat and pressure. These materials can then be set into rigid or slightly elastic forms. The raw materials used for producing different types of plastics include cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt, and crude oil. Plastics are broadly classified into two categories: thermoplastics and thermosetting plastics. Thermoplastics are those plastics which can be heated up to form products and then, if these end products are re-heated, the Plastic will soften and melt again. In contrast, thermoset plastics can be melted and formed, but once they take shape after they have solidified, they stay solid and, unlike thermoplastics, cannot be remelted.
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Plastics are used in various applications, such as automotive & transportation, building & construction, electronics & consumer goods, packaging textiles, and others (injection and blow molding). They easily endure extreme weather conditions without getting corroded or damaged, depending upon their type. They are cost effective and can be molded into desired shapes and sizes. Besides being durable, flexible, and providing high mechanical strength, they also retain their colors easily and are safer to use than metals. Thus, due to aforementioned reasons, they are extensively used in various applications.
The global top 10 plastics market has broadly been segmented on the basis of type into polyethylene, polypropylene, expanded polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyvinyl chloride, polycarbonate, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polyoxymethylene, polyamide, and polyurethane. Polyethylene (PE) is the largest type segment of the global top 10 plastics market owing to its usage in film & sheet, injection molding, blow molding, and pipes & tubing. The top 10 plastics market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.84% during the forecast period from 2016 to 2021, to reach a value of USD 586.24 billion by 2021.
The market in the Asia-Pacific region is projected to grow at a high rate, in terms of value and volume, during the forecast period. This region is projected to be a potential market in the global top 10 plastics market owing to the extensive use of plastics in numerous end-use industries, such as petrochemicals, chemicals, power generation, automobile manufacturing, packaging, electrical & electronics, and so on. The growth of the top 10 plastics market in the region is also attributed to the increasing government spending on infrastructure activities, apart from the rising disposable income of rural as well as urban population in the region’s emerging economies, such as China, India, Thailand, and other South Asian countries.
Polypropylene is estimated to be the fastest-growing type segment of the global top 10 plastics market. Polypropylene is used in applications, such as film & sheet, injection molding, fibers & raffia, and so on. Its low density, high stiffness, good transparency, and heat resistance properties drive its demand globally. It has advantages, such as improved strength, stiffness, and higher temperature resistance over PE which make it the fastest-growing type in the top 10 plastics market.
Textile is the fastest-growing application segment of the global top 10 plastics market.
Extensive use of polyamide, especially in manufacturing of nylon (which is used in clothing), and high consumption of polyesters in manufacturing of different types of fabrics are factors driving the global top 10 plastics market. The varied use of plastic materials in textile mills for tenter frames, looms, wear-resistant bearings, templates, patterns, work surfaces, and miscellaneous components is expected to drive the textile application segment of the market.
New Product launches/developments, expansions, agreements & joint ventures, and mergers & acquisitions are the key strategies adopted by leading players to drive the demand in the global top 10 plastics market
The strategy of new product launches/developments accounted for 39.1% of the total developmental activities that took place in the global top 10 plastics market from 2011 to 2016. This strategy was adopted by the key players to strengthen their position in the market. These major players actively participate in bringing innovative and diversified products into the market to cater to the needs of customers, while smaller companies concentrated more on the expansion of their production and distribution facilities.
Expansion was the second-most preferred growth strategy by manufacturers, having accounted for 28.3% of the total growth strategies in the global top 10 plastics market between 2011 and 2016.
Major manufacturers profiled in this report include The Dow Chemical Company (U.S.), Borealis AG (Austria), ExxonMobil Chemical Company, Inc. (U.S.), Ach Foam Technologies (U.S.), Vinnolit GmbH & Co. KG (Germany), E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (U.S.), ExxonMobil Chemical Company, Inc. (U.S.), Polyplastics Co., Ltd. (Japan), Solvay SA (Belgium), SABIC (Saudi Arabia), and Huntsman Corporation (U.S.), among others. These companies have adopted various organic and inorganic growth strategies, such as new product launches/developments, agreements & joint ventures, expansions, and mergers & acquisitions, to achieve growth in the market.
Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, and SABIC are the most important players in the global top 10 plastics market. These companies witnessed the highest strategy adoptions in the market and accounted for the largest share of the overall activities from 2011 to 2016.
The Dow Chemical Company is a major player that has established a strong foothold in the global top 10 plastics market. The company is focused on both organic and inorganic growth strategies. It has a broad and diversified plastics portfolio, ensuring its consistent growth in the market. The company has enhanced its product portfolio through strategies such as mergers & acquisitions and new product launches/developments. For instance, the company acquired ExxonMobil Chemical Company’s ownership share of Univation Technologies, LLC (U.S.) in October 2014, which helped it become a leading technology licensor in the polyethylene industry. Earlier, in October 2013, Dow Chemical had introduced the low density polyethylene XUS59900.99, a polymer that has been developed based on its proprietary INSITE technology, as a part of its new product launch/development strategy. It helped the company cater to the growing demand for plastic and polyethylene products in the Asia-Pacific region.
ExxonMobil Chemical, which is a part of the ExxonMobil Corporation, is a key contributor to the growth of the global top 10 plastics market. The company grew extensively during the last few years. In October 2016, the company launched two new grades of Exceed XP polyethylene at K 2016. The launch of the new Exceed grades, aimed at producing films for greenhouse, food lamination, and soft-shrink applications, helped the company broaden its product portfolio. The company also entered into a joint venture with SABIC (Saudi Arabia) in July 2016, for a petrochemical project on the U.S. Gulf Coast. This project is aimed at geographic diversification to supply shale-based natural gas, which will, in turn, help the company gain more shares in the global top 10 plastics market.