PVC again led the way among North American resin markets in 2017, with sales growth of more than 3 percent.
Results for the year from other commodity resins were mixed, with sales of linear low density polyethylene increasing, but others showing flat results or small decreases, according to final numbers for the year from the American Chemistry Council.
U.S./Canadian PVC sales surpassed 15.8 billion pounds in 2017, due in large part to a stronger U.S. construction market. Domestic PVC sales jumped almost 5 percent, even as export sales were flat.
PVC sales into rigid pipe and tubing grew almost 6 percent for the year, with sales into film and sheet up almost 5 percent. Rigid pipe and tubing accounted for 46 percent of domestic PVC sales in 2017.
The regional PE market weathered a tough year in 2017, with sales of high and low density PE down overall and sales of LLDPE showing low single-digit growth.
U.S./Canadian HDPE sales slumped almost 4 percent in 2017 to less than 18.6 billion pounds, as domestic sales growth of almost 4 percent was wiped away by a 28 percent decline in export sales. Domestic sales growth for HDPE was led by the pipe and conduit sector, where sales surged almost 21 percent, including growth of almost 27 percent in water pipe. Pipe and conduit accounted for almost 16 percent of regional HDPE sales in 2017.
In LDPE, annual sales declined almost 1 percent to just over 7 billion pounds. A domestic sales loss of more than 2 percent was softened by growth of more than 4 percent in exports. Even with the domestic LDPE market down, sales of the material into non-packaging film grew 3 percent for the year. That category accounted for almost 6 percent of domestic LDPE sales for the year.
Sales of LLDPE in the region managed to grow 1.3 percent in 2017 to almost 14.9 billion pounds. Solid domestic sales growth of almost 4 percent was reduced by a drop of more than 6 percent in exports. Domestic sales growth for LLDPE in 2017 was fueled by food packaging film, where sales were up just over 8 percent. Food packaging film's share of the 2017 domestic LLDPE market was more than 17 percent.
North American polypropylene sales — including Mexico — essentially were flat at just under 17.3 billion pounds for 2017. Decent domestic sales growth of almost 3 percent was wiped out by a 51 percent plunge in exports.
Regional PP markets saw solid growth in several domestic categories. Sales of the material into sheet were up almost 10 percent, with sales into injection molded housewares up almost 6 percent and into injection molded caps/closures and cups/containers each up almost 4 percent.
The North American solid polystyrene market saw a bit of a setback in 2017, with sales down more than 2 percent to just over 4.3 billion pounds. In the domestic market, sales of PS into electrical/electronic uses provided a bright spot with growth of more than 2 percent for the year.
Among smaller-volume markets tracked by ACC in 2017:
• U.S./Canadian expandable PS sales were up almost 4 percent to almost 1.1 billion pounds.
• North American polyether urethane polyols sales were down more than 5 percent to just under 3.2 billion pounds.
• U.S. MDI sales were up almost 6 percent to almost 3.2 billion pounds.
• U.S. epoxy sales were up more than 2 percent to just over 528 million pounds.