The compounding industry in Europe in recent years has mainly been driven by growth in technical polyolefin and engineering compounds replacing metals and other traditional materials in automotive and electrical applications, whilst masterbatch has been replacing the use of colour compounds in packaging and household goods applications. These factors are also expected to drive growth in the future as the industry is anticipated to develop slightly ahead of general economic and polymer market trends. In particular, the European masterbatch market is projected to record growth slightly ahead of polymer demand overall, at 2% pa to 2019 resulting in production of around 1.2 mln tons, as per AMI Plastics.
As would be expected the distribution of compound production across Europe follows the pattern of polymer demand with Germany having the largest market share. The only exception is the Benelux region, which has a reasonably large volume of production in comparison with the overall size of its polymer market, mainly because many major polymer producers and large masterbatch and additive groups such as Clariant, Cabot and Ampacet have production facilities in the region.
The leading integrated compounders (by volume) of polyolefins, stryrenics and engineering polymers are all resin producers and it is expected that the market share of the integrated compounders will grow in all sectors. The leading companies all produce in excess of 100,000 tpa of compounds and include LyondellBasell, Borealis and Sabic in PP compounds, Ineos Polyolefins and Total in polyolefin compounds, Styrolution in styrenics, Sabic Innovative Plastics in engineering resin compounds.