Global demand for polycarbonate and ABS resin continues to grow, while polystyrene is hoping to right the ship after a decade of demand losses.
Worldwide demand for PC is expected to grow from just under 8 billion pounds in 2010 to almost 10 billion pounds in 2015, even as a butadiene shortage facing the market worsens in the short-term, according to Chemical Market Associates Inc. market analyst Adrian Beale.
During that span, both electrical/electronic and film and sheet will surpass optical media as PC's largest end market. This shift largely is due to declining use of CDs and DVDs in favor of digital media.
PC also is expected to see some high-profile uses in sports stadium roofing during the 2014 Olympics and 2016 World Cup, both in Brazil. Global operating rates also are expected to improve from around 80 percent to almost 90 percent in the 2010-15 period, Beale said.
In ABS, Beale expects global demand to increase from less than 18 billion pounds in 2010 to almost 21 billion pounds in 2015. Transportation will be the fastest-growing end market for ABS, Beale said, with the Chinese appliance market also enjoying an unexpected renaissance.
Global operating rates for ABS should climb from the mid-80s to almost 90 percent in the 2010-15 period. ABS also will be impacted by the butadiene shortage, as well as issues in benzene feedstock used to make styrene monomer.
For PS, CMAI market analyst Peter Feng pointed out the material has undergone a major change in its relation to styrene feedstock. PS accounted for only 39 percent of world styrene demand in 2010 after making up 49 percent of demand in 2000. By 2015, its market share is expected to drop to 37 percent.
Global PS demand declined an average of 1 percent annually between 2000 and 2010, but Feng said such declines shouldn't continue, since PS now is roughly equivalent in price to polypropylene and PET two materials that had taken business away from PS in recent years.