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The Plastics Compounding Market

  • November 2015
  • -
  • BCC Research
  • -
  • 182 pages

Summary

Table of Contents

This BCC Research report covers the compounding of major thermoplastic resins. The high-volume commodity resins include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and thermoplastic polyesters (primarily PET). This report also includes an introduction to thermoplastic elastomers and some biocompounds—plastics that are made from plants instead of hydrocarbons. Forecast given for the period 2015-2020.

Use this report to:

Learn about the advances in natural fiber reinforcements.
Gain insight into the regulatory and environmental developments shaping compounds, ranging from phthalate plasticizers to halogenated flame retardants.
Receive information about key suppliers of plastics additives and fillers/reinforcements.
Learn about recent advances in plastics compounding and machinery.

Highlights

The North American market for thermoplastic compounds reached 87.33 billion pounds in 2014. This market is expected to grow from 88.78 billion pounds in 2015 to 100.2 billion pounds by 2020, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.4% over the next five years.

Resin producers as a segment will increase from 50.91 billion pounds in 2015 to 56.33 billion pounds by 2020, increasing at a CAGR of 2.0% from 2015 through 2020.

Processors as a segment will grow from 30.59 billion pounds in 2015 to 35.60 billion pounds in 2020 increasing at a 3.1% CAGR for the period 2015-2020.

BACKGROUND

This report is an update of one published in November 2013 by the same author, a Ph.D. chemical engineer who has written many BCC Research reports on plastics.
The term plastics in this report refers to thermoplastic organic polymers, also commonly called resins. The majority of the plastics discussed in this study are large-volume commodity resins produced from petrochemical feedstocks; they include familiar resins and resin families:

Polyethylenes (PEs of several types).
Polypropylene (PP).
Polystyrene (PS).
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and its copolymers.
Thermoplastic polyesters (the most common one of which is polyethylene terephthalate or PET).

We also include in this study some more specialty engineering resins such as polyamides (nylons) and polycarbonate. To be thorough, we also include an introduction to some newer biopolymers made from biological instead of petrochemical feedstocks, as well as thermoplastic elastomers.

The subject of this study is plastics compounding. What is compounding? As plastic resins leave the chemical polymerization reactor in which they are formed, they are “neat” polymers; that is, they are essentially pure compounds consisting only of the molecules of the polymer produced. Some of these resins, like PVC, are almost
impossible to process as neat polymers; additional chemicals and other materials must be added to make them commercially useful. For other resins, like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that can be satisfactorily processed in neat form, in virtually all cases some additive or additives are used, such a colorants, to add color to the formed
product like an HDPE white milk bottle or a colored motor oil bottle, or a UV absorber to prevent discoloration from exposure to sunlight.

This process of adding other materials is defined as compounding, or, the creation of a compound, a mixture. The additives that are added to neat polymers include colorants, stabilizers, flame retardants, impact modifiers, plasticizers and dozens of others, including a lot of important fillers and reinforcements.

Plastic compounding is a big business that is done by three different kinds of companies. These companies are usually grouped either as resin producers, plastics processors (that is, firms that process and shape resins and compounds by injection or blow molding, thermoforming, and extruding) and independent compounders. Some
companies perform more than one of these activities.

SCOPE OF THE REPORT

commodity resins include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and thermoplastic polyesters (primarily PET). Engineering thermoplastics (ETPs) covered include polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), nylons (polyamides), polycarbonates, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymers (ABS) and some real specialties like polyacetals and polysulfones. This report also includes an introduction to thermoplastic elastomers and some biocompounds—plastics that are made from plants instead of hydrocarbons. It excludes thermosetting resins, since they have different chemistries and are usually processed differently.

The plastics compounding market is segmented by each of the above resins and by each of the three plastics compounding groups. Applications and markets by volume in pounds or value in dollars are estimated for the years 2014, 2015, and a five-year forecast to 2020. Major resin producers, key plastics processors and independent compounders are identified. We discuss the activities, product lines and other information for the major independent compounders.

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