The world is fighting against plastic. But its production will increase, according to forecasts of the International Energy Agency (IEA). In accordance with these forecasts, the demand for primary polymers will increase by almost a third by 2030.
Synthetic polymers are produced on the basis of a number of primary products, which are produced mainly in petrochemical plants: ethylene, propylene, aromatic hydrocarbons, ammonia and methanol. According to the IEA forecast, it is methanol that will provide the largest increase in this sector, its production will increase by more than 50% by 2030. About two-thirds of this increase will fall on the Asia-Pacific region, where the production and consumption of chemical products continues to increase China.
Today, about a third of methyl alcohol is used as a raw material for the production of formaldehydes and their derivatives. The share of methanol to olefins, which are used for the production of films and synthetic fibers, as well as polyurethanes, which are considered the most promising type of polymerized materials, is growing.
The market is getting crowded
The main producers of polymers for a long time remained Western chemical corporations. Recently, their positions have been strengthened by companies located in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. As predicted by the IEA, the production of basic thermoplastics by 2050 will grow by 70% and reach 590 million tons. It is difficult to say whether it is correct to formulate a forecast for such a far-off prospect, especially as multidirectional processes are taking place on the world market for polymeric materials.
IEA experts expect a reduction in plastic consumption in Europe, Japan and Korea. However, the growth of the EU market, according to the company CREON, is no longer just slowed down, but is measured in negative numbers. At the same time, the capacious Chinese market is closing. In the coming years, China plans to provide its own production of domestic demand for polymers by more than 90%. Over the past five years, a dozen large chemical enterprises have opened in China with a cumulative production of 5.5 million tons of polymers per year. A similar number of similar capacities are planned to be launched within the next year. This means a long-term trend to reduce export shipments to the PRC.
Prices in the macro regions of the world have already crawled down, either following the decline in oil prices, or reacting to fundamental factors. December contract prices for ethylene in the EU decreased by 110 euros per ton, polypropylene fell by 100 euros per ton, styrene – by 150. A similar drop is recorded in Asia, which occurs following the decline in domestic prices in China and rising stocks.