The global plastic resin market size was worth USD 745 billion in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 1,104 billion in 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4.5% during the forecast period (2022–2030).
Plastic resins are manufactured materials typically derived from natural gas and oil. They are widely used in many end-use industries, including packaging, automotive, construction, electrical and electronics, logistics, consumer goods, textile and clothing, furniture and bedding, agriculture, medical devices, and others. There are different types of plastic resins, including polyethylene terephthalate, polyvinyl chloride, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, etc. Each of these plastic resins has unique physical properties, applications, and degrees of recyclability. Moreover, amongst the more common features is that recycled plastic resin is often unaffected by heat, allowing it to be reclaimed and injection molded into a new form.
Plastics used in automotive applications help reduce fuel consumption by reducing the density and weight of the vehicle when compared to traditional materials such as rubber or metals. Increasing consumer safety and health hazards awareness in various industries such as electronics, healthcare, wire and cable, construction, and automotive is expected to drive the market for plastic products over the forecast period, resulting in demand for plastic resins.
The rapidly growing automotive industry is expected to drive demand for plastics in exteriors, interiors, and under-hood components. Plastics are widely used in automotive under-hood components. They are also used in the construction industry for both the inside and outside commercial, residential, and industrial structures. The demand for safe, lightweight, and inexpensive multi-utility vehicle (MUV)/sport-utility vehicle (SUV) models with high fuel efficiency and an emphasis on comfort and aesthetics is driving the increased use of plastics in the automotive industry. Plastics' soft touch and odor-free nature enable better steering wheels, handles, and interiors in automotive applications.
Plastics’ favorable properties, such as impact strength, improved aesthetics, easy moldability, scratch resistance, cabin insulation, vibration and noise control, recyclability, and lightweight, are expected to help increase their demand over the forecast period. Further, rapid urbanization, coupled with the growing population in emerging countries, has added momentum to the federal government to increase its construction spending to cater to growing infrastructure needs. Furthermore, rising government construction spending in India and China is expected to drive demand for plastics in construction and infrastructure applications.
Plastics are expected to drive the global plastics resin market by replacing glass, metals, wood, natural rubber, and other manufactured materials such as concrete. Various products, including olefins, polystyrene, PVC, and other plastics, are rapidly replacing most materials in automotive, construction and infrastructure, medical and healthcare, and consumer goods, to name a few.
Furthermore, rising carbon emissions regulations and public awareness drive the replacement of metals and heavy substances with lightweight plastics, particularly in automobiles and industrial machinery.
Plastics with a lower density save fuel and improve machinery performance, lowering carbon emissions. Carbon emissions are chemical compounds released into the atmosphere by poorly burned fuels such as natural gas, crude oil, and coal. Carbon emissions cause significant climate change and slowly erode the ozone layer, protecting all life on Earth. Regulatory bodies in various countries have imposed stringent regulations to reduce the environmental and human health impact of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases (GHGs).
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has established various control techniques and guidelines for carbon emissions from multiple automotive vehicles, as specified in the Clean Air Act, effective in October 2008. As a result, the demand for fuel-efficient cars and industrial machinery made from plastic components has increased.
Hydrocarbon fuels such as natural gas, crude oil, coal, salt, and sand are used as raw materials in plastic resin. North American polyethylene (P.E.) production relies on natural gas, which is abundant and inexpensive in the region. As a result, the region's P.E. producers are fiercely competitive, keeping the resins market tight and exporting large quantities. Future supply-demand fluctuations are also expected to keep plastic resin prices volatile globally. Petrochemical downstream processes produce the majority of raw materials. Crude oil price volatility is caused by political instability, supply-demand imbalances, and seasonal variations.
Over the last few years, global crude oil prices have changed dramatically. Social unrest in major crude oil-producing regions such as Libya, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran, and Iraq has harmed crude oil supply, resulting in inelasticity in the supply and demand balance. These market factors are transient, causing an immediate drop and rise in prices. However, major market players have formed strategic alliances recently and increased their production capacities to meet rising global demand while utilizing low feedstock costs.
Green buildings have gained popularity over conventional ones in recent years. Reduced operating costs, improved air quality, the use of renewable energy, the efficient use of energy and water, and a lower overall load on metal structures compared to conventional buildings are driving the demand for green buildings. Furthermore, the growing influence of social factors such as creating a sense of community, improving occupant health and wellbeing, and encouraging sustainable business practices is propelling the growth of green buildings. The market for plastic resin in construction applications is expected to grow significantly over the forecast period, owing to the rising demand for green buildings.
Furthermore, technological advancements in the automobile industry, such as self-driving cars and the growing popularity of electric vehicles, are expected to fuel demand for plastic resin in automotive applications. In the coming years, the gradual increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road is expected to create lucrative opportunities for plastic resin.
Product-wise, the global plastic resin market is segmented into Crystalline, Non-crystalline, Engineering Plastics, and Super Engineering Plastics.
Crystalline Resins acquire the largest share of the market. It is expected to reach USD 648.5 billion in 2030, generating a CAGR of 4.4%. The demand for crystalline resins is expected to heave owing to their properties. They excel in applications involving wear, bearings, and structural loads. They also have superior chemical resistance, which amorphous materials do not have.
The Crystalline Resin segment is further segmented into Epoxy, Polyethylene, and Polypropylene.
Polyethylene holds the highest share of the crystalline resins segment. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 255 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 3.7%. Polyethylene is implemented in various applications such as high-molecular-weight polymers used in the plastic industry, low-molecular-weight polymers used as lubricants, and medium-molecular-weight polymers used as waxes miscible with paraffin. Linear low-density polyethylene is used as a packaging material in consumer goods, food and beverage, and industrial packaging applications.
Polyethylene is primarily divided into two types, namely high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE). HDPE is a moderately stiff and strong plastic having a highly crystalline structure and high density. It is commonly used in laundry detergents packaging, milk cartons, cutting boards, and garbage bins, among various other applications.
Epoxy is the fastest-growing sub-segment. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 250 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 5.6%. Epoxy resins are used for coatings on floors and countertops, adhesives, rigid foams, mortar binders, industrial coatings, and solidifying sand surfaces in oil drilling. In addition, they are widely used in the manufacturing of disposable and non-disposable medical devices such as catheters and surgical instruments.
Polypropylene is the third-largest sub-segment. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 172 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 4.3%. Its chemical and mechanical properties are extensively used in manufacturing automotive components, packaging and labeling, medical devices, and diverse laboratory equipment. It is resistant to many chemical solvents, bases, and acids and has excellent mechanical strength. It is also among the most highly formulated plastics across the globe.
Application-wise, the global plastic resin market is segmented into Packaging, Construction, Automotive, Electrical and Electronics, Textiles and Clothing, Logistics, Consumer Goods, Textiles and Clothing, Furniture and Bedding, Agriculture, Medical Devices, and Others.
Packaging acquires the largest share of the global plastic resin market. Plastics have always been used in the packaging industry. Increasing consumerism in developing and emerging markets are expected to significantly drive plastic demand in packaging applications over the forecast period. The packaging segment is expected to reach USD 385 billion in 2030, generating a CAGR of 4.2%.
Construction holds the second-largest market share, accounting for 17.49% of global revenue share in 2021. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 180 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 3.8%. Increasing construction spending in developing nations and infrastructure development activities such as in the Middle East are the major factors responsible for the rising demand for plastic resins in construction applications. Increasing construction spending in emerging economies and infrastructure development activities in the Middle East are the major factors responsible for the rising demand for plastic resins in construction applications. PVC is one of the highest consumed plastic resins in various construction activities and building materials. It is modified as per the requirement to meet structural designs and application specifications.
Agriculture is the fastest-growing application. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 580 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 5%. The most common plastic resins used in the agriculture sector include polyvinyl chloride, Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), polypropylene, and polyethylene. Polycarbonate and PMMA are also utilized in the industry but comparatively less proportion. In several countries, plastic covers are used over the farmlands to reduce emissions of pesticides in the environment. The growing application of plastic resins in the agriculture sector has helped farmers improve food quality, increase crop production, and minimize the ecological footprint of their activities through various innovative and sustainable solutions, including greenhouse covers, reservoirs and irrigation systems, silage, and mulching films.
By region, the global plastic resin market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
Europe acquires the most commanding position in the regional market. The region is expected to reach USD 204 billion by 2030, generating a CAGR of 4.2%. In 2021, Germany was Europe's leading producer of plastic. In terms of plastic production, the country is self-sufficient, with an adequate number of plants and production capacities to meet local demand. Furthermore, due to its large production bases, it supplies PET, PVC, and other types of plastic resins to neighboring countries. In addition, the country recycles a significant amount of waste plastic into products such as fibers, sheets, and films.
Due to high demand from the automotive, electrical and electronics, packaging, and construction industries, Europe is one of the largest consumers of plastic resins. Plastic resins are used in a broad range of industries due to their versatility, ease of molding, and ability to form desired shapes. Many automobile manufacturers prefer plastic vehicle components, which aids companies in achieving low-cost production and propelling the plastic resins market forward.
North America is the second-largest region. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 130.5 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 3.5%. The North American market is driven by the increasing investment in construction in the US. The country has a low-risk environment, a stable economy, and a solid financial sector. These parameters have created many opportunities for investors in recent years, stimulating infrastructure spending. This, in turn, is expected to magnify the demand for plastic resins in the US construction industry. In addition, PET is expected to be one of the fastest-growing segments in the US plastic resins market. PET is primarily used in the production of bottles and accounts for a sizable market share in the plastic resins industry.
Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing region. It is estimated to reach a value of USD 205 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 5.3%. Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, and India are expected to emerge as the primary growth markets for plastic resins in Asia over the forecast period. The growing manufacturing sector is expected to propel the demand for plastic resins in automotive, industrial machinery, packaging, construction, and electrical and electronics industries. Over the last few decades, India and China have witnessed a spike in automotive production due to technology transfer to the industry from the Western markets.
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