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Françoise Pardos, Pardos Marketing, February 2006


Plastics consumption by major areas

Out of the 154 million of tons consumed in 2000, the split by major areas was:


Table 3. Plastics consumption by major areas, in thousands of tons

Main world areas 2000 2020 AARG* 2000-2020 %
Europe W, C, E 40 000 87 000 4
Eurasia, Russia, others 4 000 19 000 8
North America 45 000 98 000 4
Latin America 11 000 42 000 7
Middle East, incl. TR 4 000 18 000 8
Africa, North & South 2 500 10 000 7
Other Africa 500 1 000 4
China 19 000 153 000 11
India 4 000 38 000 12
Japan 11 000 16 000 2
Other Asia Pacific, rest 13 000 60 000 8

*Average annual rate of growth


Future consumption of plastics for the next 18 years is going to be very different in the various areas of the world.

The developed world will continue growing, but much more slowly than in the past, between 1960 and 1979,  when the US, Western Europe and Japan generated the major growth of plastics in the world, with average annual rates of growth (AARG) up to 15 %, or doubling consumption every five years, until 1975 the first oil major price raise. Then about twenty years ago, many emerging economies became important players. However, starting form a much larger world tonnage, the AARG never ever matched again the 15 % achieved in earlier times, even with very active growth obtained in some countries, like China or India.

For the next 17-20 years to come, the world total growth will hardly grow faster than 6.5 % because of the already achieved large consumption in the now industrialized areas that were 96 million tons out of 154 million tons in 2000, or still 62 % of world total.

Because many of the new emerging countries, of very large size, like China and India, and other areas to a lesser extent, will have plastics growth over 10 % a year for the next twenty years, by 2020, the former industrialized area, W. Europe, US and Japan, will only be 200 million tons out of 540 million tons, or then only 37 % of the world total.

This is the major change happening, already seen in the shift of the new capacity projects.

What are the new plastics to take in?

What are the engineering and specialty plastics to become commodities?

One look at the past, they used to say in the early eighties that no new molecule would achieve the commodity status, ever, just at the time when the PET was taking off for bottles.

Now everybody eyes the polycarbonate. But it could be another one again, the PBT, in the huge family of polyesters.

What about the fast trackers, the PA, the LCP, the plastics whose economy and supply chain rest on another industry, like textiles, such as polyamides or polyesters.

Other breakthroughs still?

And about the environment and the dire predictions that get associated with this, global warming, ozone depletion, solid waste, pesticides, fertilizers, and the uncontrolled intensive agriculture…

And the future of oil versus other energies? The oil one day might only be the wonderful raw material that was meant, not a fuel to burn. When would this change happen, mind-bobbling? And finally the dreams, the major breakthroughs not yet guessed or hardly talked about, like new energy sources.

About the main polymers as we know, there is no forecast indicating any tapering off of the ethylene-based polymers before 2030-2040, and this is well beyond the limited forecast to 2020.



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