The popularity of polymers has increased in automotive manufacturing, owing to their low weight. These products allow for substitutional freedom in designing and development of parts and components of different forms and sizes that would not be possible with any other materials. In addition, targets to lower fuel consumption and thus, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can be achieved by using more and more lightweight materials like polymers in automobiles. Due to these factors, the global polymer market is expected to generate $838.5 billion by 2030, advancing at a CAGR of 5.1% during the forecast period (2020–2030).
The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the demand for polymers across various downstream industries, which has also affected the polymer market growth. Owing to financial uncertainty, people have reduced spending over leisure items. The effect of which is clearly reflected in decreasing sales of vehicles, electronic items, and other consumer goods, which result in low demand for polymers. Although, the demand for single-use polymer products in the healthcare and packaging industries has increased; however, a tremendous headwind is now being faced by the world due to excessive waste generation by single-use polymers.
The polymer market is classified into polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene terephthalate, polystyrene, polyurethane, and others, on the basis of base material. Among these, the polyethylene category held the largest market share in 2019 and is expected to witness the same trend in coming years. This can be majorly attributed to the increasing demand for packaged goods due to the changing lifestyle of consumers. In addition, easy availability and affordable polyethylene are likely to fuel the market growth in this category.
Further, based on application, the polymer market is categorized into packaging, construction, automotive, agriculture, electrical & electronics, textile, and others. The packaging application is expected to be the fastest-growing category during the forecast period. This can be primarily due to the high usage of polymers in the packaging industry, due to their ability to be extruded into sheets, stretching capabilities, and cheap cost. In addition, these materials provide protection to packaged food and products by possessing both mechanical and barrier properties.
Geographically, the polymer market in APAC is expected to witness lucrative growth, as a consequence of increasing construction spending particularly in emerging markets, such as China, India, and Indonesia. In addition, outstanding weatherability and ultraviolet resistance, aesthetics enhancement and impact, and abrasion resistance are some attributes of polymers that have pushed their demand in end-use industries, such as packaging, construction, automotive, and electronics, in the region.
Players in the polymer market are merging and acquiring other companies to enhance their presence. For instance, in November 2019, Hungary-based petrochemical company, MOL Group acquired 100% share of a German-based polymer compounding firm, Aurora, to enhance its product portfolio of virgin and recycled thermoplastic polymers, such as polypropylene, for the automotive industry. MOL Group has a dynamic presence in over 40 countries across the globe.
Similarly, in November 2019, Alfa S.A.B. de C.V., a Mexican multinational conglomerate, acquired 100% stake in Lotte Chemical UK Limited for its PET business in Europe. The deal marked the setting up of Alfa’s first PET production facility in Teesside, the U.K., with a production capacity of around 350,000 kilotons per year.
Some of the major players operating in the global polymers market are Dow Inc., Evonik Industries AG, Royal DSM, Eastman Chemical Company, Covestro AG, Mitsui Chemicals Inc., Exxon Mobil Corporation, BASF SE, Clariant International Limited, and Huntsman Corporation.