|Global market for healthcare antimicrobial plastics is forecast to reach 221,758 metric tons by the year 2017, fuelled by rising demand from healthcare, industrial and consumer end-use sectors, as per Global Industry Analysts. Alarming increase in number of HAIs, concerns related to the spread of pandemics such as Swine flu and Avian flu, as well as growing public awareness about benefits of biocide-based products is leading to surge in demand for antimicrobial products. Stringent government legislations and potential liabilities for service/product related infections are prompting use of biocidal plastics in healthcare environs. In the future, emergence of safer, natural and eco-friendly technologies and novel applications for antimicrobial plastics will foster rapid growth and expansion.
Antimicrobial/Antibacterial plastics represent a small albeit high-revenue segment of the plastics additives sector, and are projected to account for about 20% of the global plastics market in the near term. Traditionally, the industrial sector was considered the major hub for antifungal plastics, particularly with regard to construction and packaging industries. However, rising public awareness about contamination and infections, prompted significant demand for antibacterial plastic products in other markets such as healthcare and consumer products. The market was also pushed under the spotlight due to the recent outbreaks of pandemics such as H5N1 Avian influenza and H1N1 Swine flu, which fuelled fears of infections acquired in public environments. Demand for polymeric biocide products from the healthcare sector that was relatively weak in earlier years, is rapidly picking up pace, as is evident from the diverse array of polymer-based biocides developed recently. With development of more porous, washable and efficient plastics, the application of antimicrobial plastics in healthcare is expanding into medical implants and other biomedical devices. The need to prevent HAI (hospital-acquired infection) and related complications is a major impetus for the development of novel biocides, antimicrobial polymer technologies, and innovative applications deploying these solutions. Developed western markets such as North America, Europe and Japan dominate the global antimicrobial plastics industry in terms of sheer presence. However in the long-term, rapidly developing markets such as Asia and Latin America are poised to take the growth forward. The antimicrobial plastics manufacturers and healthcare providers such as hospitals are subject to increasingly tight governmental norms designed to reduce incidence of hospital-acquired infections (HAI), and elimination of toxic compounds. Over the last few years, R&D activity in the US and Europe has grown at a sluggish pace, primarily due to the stringent regulations imposed in these regions, as well as the high cost and time requirements for product development. As a result, a heavy share of product development is anticipated to shift towards the Asian countries, where regulations are less severe. Government regulations including reduction of medical insurance reimbursement for non-compliant hospitals is leading to higher transparency in the approval process for drugs and devices, besides tightening post-market monitoring. Organic-metallic biocides are the most commonly used additives for plastics, with the arsenic-based Oxybisphenox Arsine (OBPA) accounting for a major share of the global consumption. However, concerns about the long term environmental damage and human toxicity caused by heavy metals are leading to a shift in preference for more eco-friendly, natural and safe antimicrobials such as inorganic silver-based biocides. Further, the advent of more effective antimicrobials and technological advancements in recent years enable wider applicability to polymers with efficient antimicrobial properties. There is a growing demand in the medical and healthcare sector for non-toxic plastics with enhanced features such as transparency, durability, hardness and antimicrobial activity.
The United States stands tall as the largest global market, as stated by the new research report on Healthcare Antimicrobial Plastics. Asia-Pacific is poised to emerge as the fastest contender, expanding at the strongest CAGR of 16% through 2017. Asian markets such as China and India are potential markets for antimicrobial products due to factors such as high population density, and low income that lead to unhygienic conditions and possibility of greater microbes led infections. China along with US and Europe represents the largest worldwide markets for plastic additives. The market for antimicrobial plastic in the healthcare arena is primarily segregated into manufacturers of antimicrobial plastics and antimicrobial plastic additives. Key market participants profiled in the report include BASF SE, Bayer Material Science, Doeflex Vitapol, DSM PTG, Momentive Performance Materials, SANITIZED AG, Ticona Engineering Polymers, Addmaster (UK) Limited, Akcros Chemicals, Arkema SA, Biosafe Inc., Clariant AG, Ferro Corporation, Microban International Limited, Sciessent LLC., Troy Corporation, among others. The research report titled �Healthcare Antimicrobial Plastics: A Global Strategic Business Report� announced by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., provides a comprehensive review of industry overview, trends and issues, regulatory environment, product introductions, recent industry activity and profiles of market players worldwide. Analysis and overview is provided in unit (metric tons) terms for major geographic markets such as US, Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Rest of World.
US demand for disinfectant and antimicrobial chemicals is projected to grow 3.6% pa through 2013, as per Freedonia, exceeding US$1.2 mln by 2013. Gains will result from increased consumer concerns about foodborne pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella, fueled in large part by wellpublicized lapses in proper sanitation techniques in food and beverage processing facilities. Growth for antimicrobial additives will be driven by changes in product formulations such as water-based industrial coatings, which are more susceptible to microbes, as well as by rebounding coatings production, as that industry recovers from a subpar 2008.
• Manufacturers in key industrial markets will continue to favor effective yet environmentally-friendly additives in such products as solvent-free coatings, adhesives, as well as in medical and other high performance textiles.
• Considerations for improving food safety after incidents involving peanut processing and several fresh produce items will be balanced with concerns about the risks of creating more resistant microbial strains via the overuse of disinfectant hand cleansers and hard surface cleaning products.
• Product registration and regulatory compliance costs will shift product use in favor of higher value products that offer performance and safety, at the expense of products that can create workplace hazards or require special training/ equipment.
Product & market highlights:
• Organosulfurs will increase their presence in the marine antifouling market as an environmentally preferable alternative to tributyl tin and other heavy metal antimicrobials that being are replaced.
• Widely-reported incidences of listeriosis, salmonella and other foodborne illnesses will contribute to increased use in food and beverage processing, restaurants and other markets.
• Consumers will continue to favor hand soaps and other products which contain triclosan or other additives that offer antimicrobial properties, despite no shortage of controversy about their side effects or if they provide additional protection.