Most of the time, plastics would be useless without additives. Additives facilitate the processing of plastics, protect against heat and UV rays, and expand the range of properties by modifying material characteristics. “Only additives make it possible to permanently use plastics in ever new applications” explains Oliver Kutsch, CEO of Ceresana. The market research company analyzed the complete world market for all major plastic additives for the second time: fillers, plasticizers, pigments, flame retardants, stabilizers, impact modifiers, slip agents, antioxidants, blowing agents, as well as other plastic additives.
Rising Demand for Plastic Additives
Global demand for plastic additives amounts to approx. 33.3 million tonnes every year. More than half of this amount is processed in Asia-Pacific. North America and Western Europe follow at a great distance. As plastics are more practicable and lighter most of the time, they increasingly replace other materials such as wood or metal. Therefore, demand for plastic additives will continue to increase in the years to come. The latest study of Ceresana examines the respective development of particular plastic additives in the 16 most important countries in detail.
Construction Industry Is the Major Consumer
Plastics are increasingly used in all industries as they are more safe, more reliable, more lightweight, and cheaper. Many plastics are used in the construction industry in particular: They are increasingly becoming the first choice regarding, among others, the thermal insulation of buildings. The construction industry has to be convincing in many disciplines, for example efficiency, quality, environmental, and fire protection. Hence, the highest amount of plastic additives worldwide is utilized in this application area. The second highest amount of plastic additives is processed in the segment packaging: Plastic packaging becomes more and more popular since it is light, easy to handle, microwavable, and visually appealing. It is possible to recognize the contents easily and the products remain preserved and rich in flavor for a long time. Ceresana also forecasts a continuously rising demand for plastic additives in this application area. Vehicle manufacturers and the electrical and electronics industry are important consumers as well.
No PVC without Plasticizers
In this study, the use of additives in various plastic types is examined in more detail, that is, in polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane, engineering plastics, and other plastics. Since PVC is a brittle, hard, and white material, the worldwide highest amount of additives is applied in this plastic type to adapt it to diverse applications. PVC manufacturers are by far the largest consumer of plasticizers, which make plastics softer, more flexible, smoother, and more elastic. For example, plasticizers are used for the production of cable sheathing and floorings.
Fillers Are Most Frequently Added
Over 50% of the worldwide used plastic additives are fillers. Plasticizers and pigments rank second and third. More than 17.6 million tonnes of fillers are utilized for plastics every year. In general, cost-effective fillers increase the volume of the mixture of materials without altering the main characteristics. Additionally, the production of highly-filled plastics with properties tailored to meet the exact needs of individual costumers is rising as well: They contain up to 85% of fillers, possess excellent mechanical properties, and are even more cost-effective than conventional materials in many cases.