Freedonia Report Covers World Polyethylene


CLEVELAND, OH | According to World Polyethylene, a new study from the Freedonia Group, global demand for polyethylene resins—HDPE, LLDPE, and LDPE—will rise 4.0%/yr to 99.6 million metric tons in 2018, valued at $164 billion.

Gains will match overall world economic growth, fueled by an acceleration in consumer spending and manufacturing activity. The study says PE will continue to be the most widely used plastic resin in the world, benefiting from its versatility, easy processability, low cost, and recyclability. The development of ethylene feedstocks from new sources such as shale gas, coal, and biobased materials will also give PE a price or sustainability advantage relative to other plastic resins. Moreover, continually improving polymerization catalyst technologies will enhance the performance, customization, and yield of PE resins. HDPE is the most widely used of the three PE resins, accounting for just under half of total demand in 2013.

Analyst Kent Furst says, however, that further increases in PE demand will be limited by a number of factors. “Polyethylene is a highly commoditized and mature product, and large-volume new applications are unlikely to emerge in the foreseeable future. Additionally, polyethylene (like all plastics) is perceived negatively by many environmentally minded consumers, and major polyethylene applications such as plastic bags have increasingly become subject to regulations and bans.”

According to the study, the Asia/Pacific region will continue to be the largest and fastest growing PE market through 2018, fueled by strong growth in China, which alone accounted for nearly one-quarter of global demand in 2013. India and Vietnam will also be among the world’s most rapidly expanding markets. However, advances in most emerging Asian countries will rise at a slower pace than during the 2008–2013 period. On the other hand, North America will see a significant improvement in PE demand, while the markets in Western Europe and Japan will rebound from recent declines.


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