The US market for polymeric foams will amount to an estimated 5.6 bln lbs in 2010, expected to increase to nearly 8.6 bln lbs in 2015, for a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5%, as per a new technical market research report from BCC Research. The largest segment of the market, made up of polyurethanes, is expected to reach 4.4 bln lbs in 2015, after increasing at a CAGR of 2.6% from the estimated 3.9 bln lbs in 2010. The segment made up of polystyrenes is projected to increase from an estimated 2.2 bln lbs in 2010 to 2.5 bln lbs in 2015, for a CAGR of 2.1%.
In the roughly 8 years since BCC Research's last study on the polymeric foams industry, significant changes have continued to occur in this major segment of the plastics production and processing industry. Products and markets change as technology and society change. Polymer foams find their primary applications in consumer products, such as cushioning for furniture and automobiles, thermal insulation for construction and packaging, and similar end uses that are driven by the business cycle.Most of the markets for plastic foams are the same ones that existed a few years ago; however, there have also developed some newer markets, such as cross-linked polyolefin foam in leisure and sports goods and foamed PVC in house siding, windows/doors, and other construction shapes. A more recent development is work on foams made from biopolymers and biodegradable polymers, work done in concert with efforts to reduce the country's dependency on petroleum and natural gas, the feedstocks for the plastics that are currently foamed.