Global plastics industry outlook bright – ExxonMobil

02 February 2012 18:26  [Source: ICIS news]

New Delhi (ICIS)--The long-term outlook for the global plastics industry is healthy, driven by population growth and macroeconomic trends, but the sector needs to address concerns related to sustainability, said a senior executive of ExxonMobil on Thursday.

The European sovereign debt crisis and tight credit policies adopted by many countries to control inflation contributed to weaker demand for plastics in 2011, but the long-term view is promising, said John Verity, vice president for ExxonMobil Chemical's global polyolefins business, at the Plastindia conference in New Delhi.

But to secure a bright future the industry must address the problem of sustainability, he said. 

“Life-cycle analysis shows that plastics are more sustainable [than alternatives]. The end-of-life question related to plastics is a result of littering concerns, but this can be addressed by recycling,” he said.

“We, as an industry, need to do a better job to get the message out to opinion leaders and society at large. We need to get a positive message out for our products. We must communicate that plastics are a critical component of a sustainable future,” he said.

Verity also cited the emergence of unconventional gas sources, especially shale gas in the US, as a factor that was likely to shape the plastics industry.

“There has been a structural shift in North America, with crackers running lighter feed slate. For the first time in a decade producers are talking of expansions by debottlenecking or new crackers,” he said.

However, he said, the industry needed to pay attention to environmental concerns about the fracking technique used in shale gas production. There is also uncertainty about how much ethane will be coming from shale gas and the extent of US demand.

By: Malini Hariharan
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