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For the record, the downturn that slammed the plastics industry starting in about mid-2008 and proceeding through mid-2009 was the first period since 1950 when the plastics industry saw a dramatic drop in consumption of resin globally. Until then, average annual demand growth had been 9%/year, according to figures presented yesterday by officials working for PlasticsEurope, the trade group representing Europe's plastics suppliers.

Matt Defosse

March 10, 2010

1 Min Read
Industry downturn by the numbers, and where demand growth will come

, the trade group representing Europe's plastics suppliers. The group includes some of the industry's biggest names including Bayer, BASF, Solvay, Arkema, and Evonik (formerly Degussa).

According to Frank Schnieders, who, with Claus-Jürgen Simon, presented the report on the industry's recent past and possible future, "The crisis last year really was the first dramatic drop in the plastic industry's growth. . . . It left its mark." Despite that, he and his colleague say evidence continues to support the theory that the downturn will keep its V shape, as demand has steadily improved every month since June 2009 except for last month, which they say seems to have been a fluke.

Looking ahead, the two said their trade group's member companies support the predictions that Asia (minus Japan) and Central Europe/the CIS states will lead the demand charge through 2015, with compound annual growth rates (CAGR) in Asia without Japan hitting 6.0%/year through 2015 and demand striking 7.3%/year in the latter region. If those figures hold true, then by 2015 the Asian annual per capita plastics consumption will reach 36 kg, from 20 kg/person in 2005. For Eastern Europe/CIS, per capita plastics use will run from 2005's 24 kg to 48 kg/person/year in 2115.

In comparison, per capita plastics demand in the NAFTA region, Western Europe, and Japan will grow from about 100 kg/person in all three to 139, 136, and 108 kg/year respectively. While the per capita use is much higher in those three, plastics suppliers' interest is greatest in the higher growth rates of Asia, especially China and India. Both countries claim more than 1 billion inhabitants, so that each per capita increase takes on great significance. —[email protected]

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