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Future Growth Potential Enhanced by Increasing the Development of Sustainable Additives
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The plastic additives market comprises segments, including plasticizers, stabilizers, flame retardants, impact modifiers and processing aids, and others (includes antiblock, antistatic, slip, antimicrobial, antifog, and conductive additives, nucleating agents, blowing agents, and scavengers). By end-use industry type, the market has been divided into construction, automotive, consumer goods, packaging, and others (electrical and electronics and medical). Main end-product families covered in this study are Commodity Thermoplastics (CTP) and others (engineering plastics and thermoplastic elastomers).
Additives form an integral part of the polymer industry. They are extensively used to modify the properties of the plastic products during the compounding and processing stages. These materials are greatly valued across different end-use industries that extensively use plastic products, including construction, automotive, consumer goods, packaging, medical, and electrical and electronics. Thus, with the rising consumption of plastic products, the overall market for plastic additives is also expected to witness strong growth in the future. Development of sustainable and value-added plastic additives will gain momentum worldwide, thereby, driving the revenue growth of the plastic additives market. Although the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted the overall plastic additives market in 2020, consumption has started to bounce back in 2021, followed by economic recovery and resumption of manufacturing activities. However, pre-pandemic levels of consumption will be attained only by 2023.
Plasticizers are expected to retain their dominant position in the global plastic additives market, both by value and volume, largely due to the substantial usage of these additives in high-volume flexible PVC products. Stabilizers are high-value, low-volume products and are often added to polymeric materials to inhibit their degradation against heat, Ultraviolet (UV) light, and oxidation throughout the product lifecycle. Flame retardants accounted for the second-largest volume share, after plasticizers, in 2020, owing to a wide usage of these products to prevent fire incidents across construction, automotive, and electrical and electronics industries. Impact modifiers are anticipated to witness increasing demand for greater durability of polymer products, while processing aids find usage for enhancing melt flow, heat dissipation, and mold release of plastic products during the processing stages. Growth in other plastic additives is mainly underpinned by the high demand from packaging-related applications, including flexible films, rigid bottles, and containers.
Both by value and volume, the construction sector is anticipated to witness the highest consumption of plastic additives. Additives such as plasticizers, flame retardants, stabilizers, and impact modifiers and processing aids are consumed considerably in the construction industry for various applications, including pipes and fittings, door and window profiles, wires and cables, flooring, roofing membranes, wall coverings, and building insulation. Growth in the consumer goods segment is mainly underpinned by the extensive usage of plasticizers, flame retardants, and impact modifiers and processing aids for toys, child-care products, sports and leisure products, and upholstered furniture, among other consumer goods related applications. Moreover, the market for plastic additives is also influenced by the worldwide automotive production, which, in turn, is expected to drive the consumption of plasticizers, stabilizers, flame retardants, and impact modifiers and processing aids for interior, exterior, and under-the-hood automotive parts during the forecast period. The packaging sector is anticipated to experience strong consumption of plastic additives during the forecast period for manufacturing various rigid and flexible packaging films and end-products worldwide.
In the last few years, developing countries, especially those in Asia-Pacific, MEASA, and Latin America, have emerged as prominent low-cost manufacturing hubs for various products, such as construction products, consumer goods, automotive components, food and beverage packaging, and electrical and electronic components. The market for plastic additives is likely to benefit from the increasing development of these end products. Major growth-contributing countries in these regions include China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Mexico, and Brazil. Moreover, the ever-growing concerns against the environmental impact of certain traditional plastic additives, coupled with the corresponding demand for safer and sustainable alternatives, is now being witnessed in the developing parts of the world, unlike in the past, wherein the demand for alternatives was seen mainly in North America and Europe.
The matured markets of North America and Europe are increasingly focusing on acquiring value-added plastic additives that are more sustainable than the existing ones, while providing improved performance across diverse domains. Efforts to reduce the carbon footprint and waste accumulation are expected to gain momentum in the next decade. This trend is anticipated to result in an increased focus on end-of-life analysis, circular economy, and lifecycle assessment—the cradle-to-grave concept—that would influence design, production, use, disposal, and recycling of plastic products. While the demand for plastic additives is heavily dominated by mass-market applications such as films and sheets, wires and cables, and flooring and wall coverings, the impact of regulations and the growing need to meet the performance challenges associated with certain applications (including electric vehicles, medical devices, and non-CTP products based on polyamides, polyester, and ABS) is also expected to create the growth opportunity in the market.
The plastic additives market is highly fragmented and comprises several large-, medium-, and small-scale companies. Plastic additive manufacturers are anticipated to emphasize more on strengthening long-term relationships with raw material suppliers, distributors, and compounders or processors to control their positioning over the supply chain. Moreover, the market is expected to exhibit mergers and acquisitions, coupled with vertical integration activities among companies, to increase their product offerings and stay ahead of the competition.
Author: Sayantan Sengupta
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