Europe styrenics industry needs to be innovative - BASF

25 November 2009 12:26  [Source: ICIS news]

AMSTERDAM (ICIS news)--Competition from the polypropylene (PP) sector will force styrenics businesses in Europe to become even more innovative by focusing on new and still-expanding markets, while acceptance of the recent volatility caused by the global economic slowdown is also crucial, BASF’s Jaroslaw Michniuk said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the European Aromatics & Derivatives Conference, BASF’s group vice president of styrenics in Europe said: “The current volatility is an issue for everybody, and at the same time PP expansions in the Middle East mean there will be more interpolymer competition in the near future.”

Michniuk said that it was imperative that styrenics businesses focus on growing markets such as the construction and packaging industries in order to survive, as the delta between PP and polystyrene (PS) was not expected to significantly change in the future.

It was also important to accept consolidation in other markets such as the electrics and electronics industries, from which demand had declined over recent years.

Michniuk said opportunities existed for styrenics in the bottling sector, which is mainly dominated by the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) industry. He said that the use of PS in this segment offered some clear advantages, since the product is on average 30% lighter than PET and is easily processed.

Although BASF had been developing this area for more than three years, Michniuk said it remained a risky business, but one he was willing to take a chance on.

Although difficult times were still ahead, with anticipated plant closures, declining margins and weak downstream demand just some of the challenges, Michniuk remained positive about the future.

“I believe styrenic polymers have a unique selling position and I am optimistic that this market will continue to grow,” Michniuk said.

The 8th European Aromatics & Derivatives Conference, jointly organised by ICIS and International e-Chem, takes place from Wednesday 25 November to Thursday 26 November 2009.

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By: Madelon Ten Cate
+44 20 8652 3214

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