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The global plastic market size was valued at USD 439.28 billion in 2021. The market is projected to grow from USD 457.73 billion in 2022 to USD 643.37 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 5.0% during the forecast period. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with plastic experiencing lower-than-anticipated demand across all regions compared to pre-pandemic levels. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a decline of 2.5% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
Plastics, also known as polymers, are used to manufacture a wide variety of products ranging from paper clips to spacecraft due to their versatility, easy manufacturing, moldability, lightweight, waterproof nature, and low cost. They are traditionally derived from natural gas and petroleum. The depleting sources of polymers have encouraged manufacturers to use renewable sources. The plastics manufactured using renewable biomass sources, such as corn starch, sawdust, vegetable fats and oil, and food waste, are called bioplastics. Moreover, rising awareness about the environmental harm caused by polymers influences manufacturers to develop recyclable products. Surging demand for high-performance plastic packaging solutions for the protection of products is a key factor driving the market.
Supply Chain Uncertainties Caused by COVID-19 Hindered Market Growth
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plastic demand from the automotive and building & construction industries has declined substantially. This decline was associated with decreased manufacturing activities in these industries along with lockdown restrictions imposed globally. Additionally, the significant drop in prices of crude oil due to the decline in demand and lower storage capacity for oversupply reduced market growth. On the contrary, the demand from the medical industry for producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face masks, shields, goggles, respirators, gloves, gowns, and coveralls will propel the market. For instance, according to the National Health Service trust in Lincolnshire, England, about 2.3 billion PPE products were distributed to health & social care personnel in England between February and July 2020.
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Increasing Demand for Engineering Plastics to Favor Growth
Engineering plastics being more robust and durable than regular ones have increased the product demand. They provide better thermal and mechanical properties along with being much lighter and more cost-effective. The growing need for better polymer solutions for various applications, such as componentry, machinery, and construction, further supports the market expansion. Moreover, the rising demand for metal substitution increasingly leads to broader usage of engineering polymers in various industries. These materials offer more decisive advantages over metal structures in many industries such as automotive engineering, construction, solar, and water. As per DSM, several global OEMs are replacing metal parts with engineered plastic materials and components. For instance, the crankshaft covers for Volkswagen earlier made from aluminum are now made from polymers. This resulted in about 40% weight reduction of the part.
Rising Demand for Plastic from Packaging Industry to Drive the Market
The product demand is advancing in widespread industries, such as food & beverage, consumer goods, automotive, and electrical & electronics. The increasing demand for packaging material from the food & beverage industry is driving product consumption globally. Food manufacturers prefer to use packaging that minimizes food quality degradation and avoids contamination. The ability of plastic to act as a barrier between food products and the external environment is fueling the demand.
Besides, the ability of polymers to defend against physical stress and offer high durability is increasing their usage in sports, fashion, polymer clay, and toy-making. Moreover, they are easy to mold and offer flexibility to produce packaging in any shape and size. In the textile sector, their utility is surging owing to their high elasticity, durability, and enhanced visual appeal. Moreover, the rigid nature of polymers makes them suitable for packaging automotive and electrical spare parts. Thus, the increasing application across food & beverage, textile, electrical & electronics, automotive, and consumer goods industries is augmenting the plastics industry growth.
Stringent Regulations for Plastic Usage to Affect Growth
Regulations over product usage are likely to affect market growth rate. Stringent government regulations and other policies have come into the picture in response to the growing concerns over the damage caused by polymers to the environment. To reduce the environmental pollution caused due to plastic use, many manufacturers and governments have made efforts to adopt greener and non-plastic alternatives. For example, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) started a Clean Seas campaign in 2017 in over 50 countries that urge governments to impose plastic reduction policies, encourage industries to minimize polymer-made packaging, and reform their products. Additionally, many countries, including India, have committed to removing single-use polymers from the market by 2022. The shift toward non-polymer products and conventions over plastic use together acts as a restraining factor toward market growth.
Moreover, in March 2022, at the UN Environment Assembly held in Nairobi, heads of state, environment ministers, and other delegates from 175 countries supported a historic resolution to eradicate plastic waste and build an international legally binding accord by the end of 2024.
Polyethylene Segment to Lead the Market Due to its Rising Adoption in Packaging Products
Based on type, the market is segmented into polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polyamide, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polycarbonate, polyurethane, polystyrene, and others. Amongst these, polyethylene and polypropylene (PP) are the major types due to their increased demand from the end-users such as packaging and automotive. Several manufacturers use polymers for packaging their products as they are durable and act as a barrier between moisture and the product. The usage in the automotive industry is increasing as manufacturers are reducing the weight of the vehicle to increase efficiency and minimize carbon emissions.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is mainly used in producing pipes & fittings owing to its numerous advantageous properties such as high modulus of elasticity, electric insulation, resistance to chemicals, and thermal insulation. The construction industry uses PVC products such as doors, windows, and frames due to their longer life cycle, enhanced looks, and easy material availability. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used on a large scale for packaging and bottling applications. It observed high demand from the packaging of food & beverage industries as it is non-toxic, lightweight, strong, and can be recycled easily. Due to its strong and flexible nature, PET is also the preferred material for 3D printing.
Polyamide is majorly used in the textile industry owing to its solid and flexible properties. It exhibits good elasticity, high tensile strength, and is wrinkle-proof. These benefits make it suitable for usage in clothes, mats, and other products. Polyurethane, in the form of foam, observed high demand in the furniture and automotive industries. Polycarbonate is mainly used for electrical & electronics applications due to its high electrical insulation property.
Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is a rigid and sturdy polymer that provides resistance to chemicals. Hence, it is used in camera bodies, housing appliances, packing crates, and luggage. Polystyrene has exhibited high demand from the electronics and packaging industries owing to its insulating and cushioning properties.
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Packaging Segment to Generate the Highest Revenue Owing to the Growing Food & Beverage Industry
In terms of end-use industry, the market is segmented into automotive & transportation, packaging, consumer goods/lifestyle, infrastructure & construction, healthcare & pharmaceutical, electrical & electronics, textile, and others. The packaging segment is estimated to hold the leading plastic market share during the assessment period due to the high demand for polyethylene from the food & beverage packaging industry. The growing use in the production of construction-related products, such as floor covering, films for windows, and fittings & pipes, is surging the product demand from the infrastructure & construction end-use industry.
Similarly, the automotive & transportation and consumer goods/lifestyle end-use industries are expected to contribute substantially to the growth of the market in the forecast period. The rising adoption of polymers in the automotive industry to increase the efficiency of vehicles and the life of vehicle components is responsible for the growth in the market. These polymers are easily moldable, highly durable, and flexible, which make them the most preferred material for manufacturing numerous products such as iceboxes, containers, housewares, toys, and packaging material.
The increasing use of polymers in the healthcare sector can be credited to their property of guarding against contaminants by acting as a barrier. Healthcare-related products such as gloves, syringes, bandage strips, blood bags, and prosthetics are manufactured using several polymers. In the electrical & electronics industry, they are used to produce household appliances, switches, and light fittings due to their insulating properties.
Asia Pacific Plastic Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)
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Asia Pacific is estimated to hold the largest market share during the forecast period. China is anticipated to remain the leading country in the region on account of the abundant availability of raw materials at low rates. This is further minimizing the hurdles involved in plastic production. The growth in Asia Pacific is also attributed to the strong growth in the packaging and construction industries. Additionally, rising demand from the consumer goods industry for manufacturing toys, textiles, and sports goods is expected to drive the market in the region.
In North America, the U.S. held the largest market share, backed by increasing product demand from the electrical & electronics, healthcare & pharmaceuticals, and packaging industries. Concerns over plastic pollution and development of recyclable technologies have increased the adoption of recycled plastics in the region.
Europe is anticipated to have substantial growth in the polymers market owing to the rising demand from the automotive sector in the region. Additionally, properties including excellent heat resistance, electric insulation, corrosion inhibition, and low density support the adoption of polymers in Europe.
The key factor influencing the growth in the Middle East & Africa will be the growing demand from textile and packaging industries. The surging demand for lightweight packaging and the use of polymers over glass and metal are set to boost the regional market. Furthermore, Latin America is projected to grow due to rising urbanization and the growing number of companies specializing in industrial packaging solutions.
Key Players to Strengthen Position Offering Innovative Solutions to the Packaging Industry
Most of the major companies in the market have a global presence. For example, LyondellBasell is involved in refining activities and produces several chemicals and polymer-based products. The company has established its presence worldwide by using production capacity expansion and acquisition strategies. It is also keeping up with the latest trends in this market to serve its consumer base efficiently. For instance, in May 2021, the company announced producing virgin quality polymers from raw materials derived from plastic trash at its plant in Wesseling, Germany.
Similarly, ExxonMobil is expanding its business globally by adopting strategies, including joint ventures and new product development. SABIC, another key player, has a strong presence in the Middle East & Africa. The company offers different types of polymers that have helped it in its expansion through joint ventures.
An Infographic Representation of Plastics Market
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The market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market and focuses on crucial aspects such as leading companies, applications, and types. Also, the report offers insights into plastic market trends, and dynamics, and highlights vital industry developments. In addition to the insights mentioned above, the report encompasses various factors driving the growth of the market in recent years.
Value (USD Billion), Volume (Million ton)
By Type, End-use Industry, and Geography
By End-use Industry
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 439.28 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 643.37 billion by 2029.
In 2021, the market size stood at USD 439.28 billion.
Growing at a CAGR of 5.0%, the market will exhibit significant growth in the forecast period (2022-2029).
The packaging segment is the leading segment based on end-use industry.
Rising product demand for high performance packaging solutions is the key factor driving the market growth.
Asia Pacific dominated the global market in 2021.
LyondellBasell, ExxonMobil Chemical, INEOS, and SABIC are a few of the leading players in the global market.
The rising demand for recyclable plastics from the packaging industry is the key trend leading to the growth of the market.
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