Global consulting firm Deloitte has identified three trends that will shape chemicals and plastics markets through 2030.
Deloitte researchers cited advanced manufacturing, digital transformation and sustainability as the three most important factors for those firms to engage in.
In a Dec. 13 phone interview, Deloitte executive Duane Dickson said that the global chemicals market "has enjoyed really good performance industry-wide for the last couple of years." But he added that the three trends that his London-based firm focused on in the report, titled "Winning in Evolving Times: Strategic Imperatives for Chemicals Companies," need to be addressed.
Dickson is vice chairman and U.S. oil, gas and chemicals section leader for Deloitte. His industry experience includes stints at chemicals firms Union Carbide and Hercules.
In advanced manufacturing, new processing technologies for plastics are incorporating nanotechnology and surface sciences, Dickson said. 3D printing also is changing how products behave in different environments.
For the digital world, Dickson said that artificial intelligence machine learning is creating tighter controls and better analytics. AI also is giving "more tools" to those working in research and development and is allowing firms to more closely track "customer stickiness" in order to see how the industry connects to consumers.
Sustainability also remains a big topic in regards to plastic waste and other concerns.
"The industry has taken more action in the last year in communicating with consumers," Dickson said. "That can drive recycling rates and help reduce plastic waste."