Demand for foamed plastics in the US is forecast to grow 2.9% pa to 8.6 bln pounds in 2013, valued at US$27 bln. Rebounds are anticipated after the 1.2% annual decline experienced between 2003 and 2008. Construction markets will lead advances, particularly for insulation and carpet underlay. Most rapid advances are expected for RIM and foamed vinyl, fueled by rebounds in motor vehicle production and construction uses. Overall foamed plastics growth will be driven by demands for durable, comfortable and lower-cost materials, as well as needs for heightened energy efficiency in areas such as buildings and appliances. Foamed urethane demand will grow 2.8% pa through 2013 to 4.3 billion pounds based on cushioning opportunities for foamed flexible urethane in furniture, bedding, carpet backing and other areas. Slightly slower growth is expected for foamed rigid urethane with good construction market opportunities. Rigid urethane is a highly efficient thermal insulating material with widespread building, tank, pipe and appliance uses. The material may also be foamed in- place or used as the core insulating material in structural panels.
Demand for foamed polystyrene demand is expected to exhibit below average growth through 2013 to 2.5 bln pounds. Advances will be restrained by maturing applications and average growth in the large packaging segment. Best packaging growth is expected for hinged containers and cups. Foamed vinyl demand will be stimulated by expanding construction uses such as flooring, pipe, and windows and doors. Foamed vinyl has cost, performance and other advantages over wood, metal and other materials in many uses.
Construction, the largest foamed plastic market, will be stimulated by opportunities in insulation, flooring, carpet padding and other areas. Insulation growth will be fueled by the superior insulating qualities of urethane and polystyrene foams compared to fiberglass, coupled with their competitive costs, ease of installation and ability to be added to existing structures through foamed-in-place techniques. Below average growth in the household product market will be driven by rising consumer spending patterns and increased purchases of foamed flexible urethane in mattress, furniture and bedding products.