Upgraded Commodity and Engineered Resins: The Competitive Scenario

Published - May 2004| Analyst - Melvin Schlechter| Code - PLS044A
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Report Highlights

  • The use of high performance resins comprise about 40% and commodity thermoplastics (CTPs) 60% of the total volume.
  • Projected average annual growth rates are similar with CTPs forecasted at a slightly higher rate - 3.5% compared to 3.3% for high-performanceresins.
  • By 2008, use of CTPs (nearly 18 million pounds) will exceed highperformance resins (12.6 million pounds) for high performance applicationsby 42%.
  • Of the CTPs, HDPE, polystyrene and polypropylene are the leading resins, while within the high-performance resin group, PET is the clear leader.

INTRODUCTION

Competition between lower-priced resins and higher-performance variants has intensified in recent years especially with the economic slowdown that began in the fourth quarter of 2000. This scenario has been enhanced with development of upgraded commodity thermoplastics that have begun to more seriously challenge established higher-performance resins for a variety of applications such as electronics, packaging, medical and automotive. This competitive scenario has seldom been analyzed and a report covering those applications in which these resins battle, is needed to quantitatively assess the current situation.

This BCC report covers nine major basic applications in which there is viable and measurable competition between the commodity thermoplastics and high-performance resins. These include, automotive (interior, exterior and under-the-hood), medical devices (disposable and nondisposable), appliances, building/construction, flexible food packaging, electronic enclosures, healthcare packaging, rigid food packaging and toys.

The definitions of what characterizes “low-priced” vs. “high-priced” resins are somewhat arbitrary. In this report, the former comprise the basic commodity thermoplastics such polyethylene and its variants, polypropylene, PVC and polystyrene/HIPS (high-impact polystyrene). The higher-priced resins are more appropriately called “high-performance” resins and not all are strictly resins because a few really are elastomers. However, here they are called high-performance with the understanding that several are elastomers.

SCOPE OF STUDY

The report contains:

  • Coverage of nine major basic applications where there is viable and measurable competition between commodity thermoplastics and high-performance resins, including:
        - automotive, appliances, building/construction, flexible and rigid food packaging, electronic enclosures, healthcare packaging and toys
  • Quantification of this penetration led by polypropylenes, polyethylenes and styrenics into the realm of materials such as nylons, polyesters (PET and PBT), polycarbonates and others
  • Market estimates (2003) and forecasts (2008) for volumes of low-cost resins replacing higher performance plastics in each of the major applications
  • Company profiles and an examination of the industry’s structure.

METHODOLOGY

A very comprehensive review of those industries in which these resins compete was undertaken and analyzed. A selection was made on both the resins to be covered and their respective applications, followed by a detailed analysis. Each resin was traced in each of these industries and an assessment was made as to its current and forecasted consumption and its comparison with competitive resins.

ANALYST'S CREDENTIALS

Research analyst Mel Schlechter has over 30 years in the chemical industry, and specializes in plastics market research. He has been with BCC for over 10 years. Mr. Schlecter holds B.S. degree in chemistry, an M.S. in organic chemistry and an M.B.A. in marketing.

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