Worldwide revenues generated with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are expected to rise dynamically to amount to almost US$70 billion in 2019, as per Ceresana. Main growth motor will be Asia-Pacific; with demand in this region expected to increase at average growth rates of 4.4% pa. Yet, sales markets in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America are also likely to generate above-average growth rates. Demand development on the markets for HDPE in North America and Western Europe, however, will be notably slower. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a highly versatile type of plastic. This becomes apparent in the broad portfolio of products that ranges from food packaging, bottles, cosmetics, care products and household goods to technical parts and products for the construction sector. One of the major application areas for HDPE is the blow molding of bottles and other hollow pieces. Products of this type accounted for roughly 28% of global HDPE market volume in 2011, closely followed by films and injection molded products. Strong regional differences can be observed in blow molding and film extrusion, in particular. The production of films is the dominating market segment in Asia-Pacific, whereas blow molding and injection molding are the most common processing technologies in North America and Western Europe. The most dynamic growth in the upcoming eight years is forecast for the HDPE pipe segment; Ceresana expects demand in this sector to increase by 4.8% pa. China and other emerging countries are expanding their infrastructure segments, which results in pipes and cable conduits made from HDPE becoming more important. Not only do they substitute materials such as concrete or metal but can also compete against other types of plastics such as PVC. Changes in regional demand will also have an effect on the global production structure of manufacturers. Over the next eight years, new capacities of over 8 mln tons will be added in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East ranks second with an additional capacity of almost 7 mln tons.
LDPE (low density polyethylene), is a plastic manufactured through a high pressure method. The primary markets for this plastic include films, carry bags and sacks. Roughly 67% of global LDPE demand falls into these categories. Some examples of these applications include agricultural, multi-layer, and shrink films, as well as reinforcements for levees. LDPE, which is soft, ductile, and flexible, is additionally utilized for strong, elastic goods, such as screw caps, lids, and coatings. LDPE has been manufactured since 1939, and because it can be easily processed into films and exhibits particularly excellent rheological characteristics, it is still favored in many world regions - even though it has competition from newer polyethylene grades like HDPE and LLDPE. However, the trend of substituting LDPE with other polymers is declining again throughout industrialized nations. Opportunities for LDPE in Western Europe, the US, and Japan can be seen, for example, in coatings and packaging for medical products. These applications will recover relatively quickly from the financial crisis. LDPE prices have fallen by as much as 30% in certain regions: Western Europe and North America are additionally seeing considerable decreases in demand. Consequently, global revenue has fallen to €15.9 bln (US$22.2 bln). However, Ceresna expect to see growth again starting in 2011. The Asian Pacific will be the most important LDPE market and will be able to increase its share of global consumption to more than 39%. The Middle East is defined by its continued expansion of LDPE production: capacity increases of around 3.5 mln tons are planned to take place by 2014. As a result, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Iran will become the world's largest exporter of plastics. As per another report by Lucintel, in the global low density polyethylene industry, Asia Pacific (APAC) and the Rest of the World (ROW) are expected to emerge as the highest growth potential over the next five years. Factors such as low-cost feedstock, additional manufacturing plants, and increasing foreign investments provide impetus to these regions. The global low density polyethylene industry experienced moderate growth during 2006-2011. During 2012-2017, however, its growth is projected to be modest and reach an estimated US$33.1 bln in 2017. Innovations in packaging, rising living standards and population, growing demand in end-user markets, and emerging economies are among the industry drivers. Rising demand in innovative end-user applications in packaging, infrastructure, transport, automotive, rail, and telecommunication are anticipated to be major industry drivers.
Due to its exceptional technical characteristics, LLDPE covers nearly all traditional markets for polyethylene. LLDPE is primarily used in the production of films. Product applications in this sector range from agricultural films, saran wrap, and bubble wrap, to multilayer and composite films. As per Ceresna, after LLDPE revenue in certain world regions fell by 20-30% in 2009, to a combined total of less than €17 bln (US$24 bln), substantial growth is expected again starting in 2010. The Asia-Pacific region will continue to be the largest market and increase its share of global consumption to more than 50%. Industry in China will be the driving force of the LLDPE market. Even if past growth rates are not expected to be regained quickly, we anticipate dynamic development in the processing and production of LLDPE: Alone in China capacity increases of roughly 2.7 mln tons are planned by 2012. In the Middle East, LLDPE production is expected to grow at a rate of more than 9% pa. In contrast, Western Europe and North America are not likely to regain their peak production levels from 2008 by 2016. Revenue in the global LLDPE industry experienced significant growth during the last five years, and the industry revenue is forecast to reach an estimated US$41.1 bln in 2017 with good growth over the next five years (2012-2017). The industry is consolidated, with Asia Pacific (APAC) and North America dominating this market. A combination of factors such as operating cost, feedstock price (crude oil, naphtha, ethane), feedstock availability, scale and technology, energy costs, oil price, utilization rate, GDP growth, distribution costs, operating rates, environmental issues, and government regulations influences industry dynamics significantly.