Pardos Marketing : Industrial market research consultancy specializing in plastics and applications
Home Navigation Presentation Navigation Studies Navigation Papers



PIRA, Brussels 2005  Flexible Packaging 2005
PIRA 5th International Conference
19th-20th October 2005, Brussels Belgium


Film applications

Main film end-uses

Plastics films are used in the broadest range of end-uses and activities. The largest industrial use of plastics films is in packaging, and in decreasing order from the more commodity to more specialty, building construction, agriculture, consumer goods, automobile, medical and hygiene, electrical/ electronics and many other industries of lesser volume importance.

Packaging demand for films, present and future, is to continue being fuelled by the already strong base, the fast developing “rest of the world”, the growing preference for flexible packaging over rigid, with sachets, pouches, and stand-up flexible presentations, and the constant innovations and launching of new and clever materials and solutions. Films certainly are the most alive activity in the plastics industry.

In general, for most films, the main end-using industry is packaging. However, the other end-uses may be quite important for some films, like, magnetics, optics, telectronics for PET, consumer goods, medical for PVC, automobile and construction for PVB.


Relative split of film consumption, packaging and other uses

Plastics films 000s tons % packaging Other end-uses, comments
Polyethylene 33 000 75 Refuse, agriculture, building, disposables
Polypropylene 4 800 100  
PVC 800 50 Medical, furniture, membranes, agriculture, stationery, ceilings, building
PS 600 80 Stationery, envelops
PET 2 200 45 Magnetic tapes, reprography, telectronics
Polyamides 320 98  
Cellophane 70 98  
Multilayer films 7 500 98  
Ionomers 120 80  
EVOH 65 80 Development in pipes, fuel tanks
PVDC 135 95  
Biodegradable 70 100  


Plastic films end-uses, selected applications

End-uses Selected applications and comments
Packaging Flexible packaging growing faster than rigid packaging, at least 7 % world wide, over old products
Europe and US, 50% of world total, decreasing.
Over 80 % is used for food packaging. Main applications:
Stretch and shrink films
Bags and sacks
Heavy duty sacks and big bags
Free standing bags and pouches
Labels, filmic labels, sleeves, display films
Multilayer films
Building construction Protection films, water reservoirs, lining,  public works, geomembranes, window films, solar and protection, roofing, stretched ceilings, water treatment, filtering
Agriculture Silage, mulching, tunnels and crop protection, green houses
Consumer goods Garbage bags, household films, disposable diapers and related products, credit cards, tarpaulins
Medical applications Blood bags, infusion, pouches for waste fluids
Automobile industry Film over molding on some parts outside of the car, to replace paint.
Electrical/electronic industries Films for capacitors, or condensers, PET and thin PP
Films for electronics, of higher specialty, like PI films and competing materials, flexible circuits.
Magnetic tapes
Diffuser films
Membrane touch switches
Conductive films
Flat panel displays
All other applications Synthetic paper
Releasing films
Films for graphic arts
Weather and high altitude balloons, etc.


Altogether, the very market for packaging, the food and drink volume is not to grow much in volume terms, in the industrialized countries, where the average food intake is already too much. Among the dire forecasts, some will say: "The future of packaging? People should cut their average food and drink intake by at least 30 % to stay in good health! “

But there is a silver lining. Packaging industries and package value will continue growing, because of more sophisticated packages, and higher value. This is where the new materials come in.

More and more, plastics are becoming the one and only packaging material. Plastics must be able to comply with a very broad range of expectations, sometimes contradictory. They must be well adapted to the contents, made with the greatest variety of shapes, designs, colors, prints, safe, non toxic, clean, economical, pleasant to see, touch, and even hear, resisting to extremes in temperature from sterilization, freezing, cooking, barrier to gases, water and aromas, easy to open, to use, to close back, friendly to the environment, and finally disposable without a second thought.

Plastics consumption in packaging has become a sizeable part of the total packaging tonnage, ranking second only after paper and board, as glass is much heavier. For instance, the main materials for packaging, in Europe are estimated, in million tons:

Glass for packaging 20
Tin plate 4
Aluminium 0.8
Plastics 15
Paper and board 30
Total packaging materials 70


To conclude, the strongest driving force for films is the growing preference for flexible over rigid packaging inasmuch as possible, a trend that is just at its beginning.


back to the top of the page