PET demand growth in Europe, N America to have closer link to GDP

14 March 2013 10:09  [Source: ICIS news]

AMSTERDAM (ICIS)--Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) demand growth in Europe and North America will be more closely linked to GDP growth in the future because of less lightweighting of bottles, a senior consultant said on Thursday.

“Lightweighting seems to have run its course... it’s safe to conclude that lightweight trend is now going to be shallow. Now we’ll see a tighter correlation between GDP growth and expansion of PET demand,” said Stewart Hardy, global manager for petrochemical market dynamics at Nexant ChemSystems.

Lightweighting has negatively impacted on PET demand in developed regions in recent years because a lower quantity of PET is being used in each bottle.

“[PET] growth has been undermined by lightweighting... this effect that has paralysed markets in Europe and United States – part of an ongoing longer term phenomenon – it’s hit growth rate hard,” Hardy said, speaking at the ICIS PET Value Chain conference, which runs 14-15 March.

Hardy estimated that 500ml PET bottles had lost around one third of their weight in the past 5-10 years because of lightweighting, negatively impacting consumption.

“500ml bottles provided a lot of growth in the 1990s – they were very heavy and have lost a third of their weight in the last 5-10 years and that’s been a real hit,” Hardy said.

Hardy predicted that further lightweighting will be limited as most of what is technologically possible has been achieved.

Lightweighting has not only impacted the virgin PET market, but has also limited recycled PET (R-PET) supply. This is because the major feedstock for R-PET is post-consumer bottled drinks.

Lightweighting means that less PET is recoverable for each bottle collected.  Shortages of feedstock – in part the result of bottle lighweighting – drove R-PET flake prices to new record highs from 31 January 2011 to 9 May 2011.

By: Mark Victory
+44 208 652 3214

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