The ICIS Expandable Polystyrene report is published weekly in Asia, Europe and the US. Price assessments cover spot or contract markets for block, packaging, insulation standard and flame retardant grades, depending on the region.
These unbiased and independent reports will give you valuable insight into market developments and the key factors that are driving prices. News and analysis include an overview of the market, feedstocks movements, production schedules and graphs. Our locally based reporters provide intelligence enabling you to follow the up-to-date developments on the market and make informed commercial decisions.
Updated to Q2 2019
Supply remains in abundance throughout the region. Inventory at end-users remained above healthy levels. Plentiful supply in China prompted producers to run their units at lower rates of about 50% while other regional Asian sellers ran at below optimal levels of around 60-70%. Market participants say that abundance of supply has also kept offers on par with buying indications.
Demand remains tepid overall in China due to a slowdown in the global economy as well as US-China trade war. These two factors have been fundamental in leading to an overall weakening in downstream demand from the key packaging sectors. A decline in usage of single-use plastic food utensils due to recent regulatory changes regionally also played an instrumental role in dampening orders from end-users, which weighed on EPS demand.
European expandable polystyrene (EPS) supply tightened in Q2 for grey grades amid technical problems at Total’s plant in Feluy, Belgium, through most of the quarter and led to Total declaring a force majeure soon after the problem arose. White grade supply was ample with no known production issues and offers of material for Iranian, Turkish and some Russian volumes heard in parts of southern and eastern Europe in particular.
EPS demand in Europe was weaker than usual in Q2. Mild weather in January and February meant construction work continued in key countries and buoyed demand in Q1 with little up-tick in the quarter. Demand in the UK market fell due to destocking activity after Brexit was delayed. Demand improved slightly in other countries as the weather warmed but did not firm as much as anticipated in Italy and Germany, and remained firm in France and Poland.
Supply of US expandable polystyrene (EPS) was readily available in the second quarter, with all plants running throughout the quarter and no planned or unplanned outages. There were some logistical issues during the quarter related to high water levels on the US Mississippi and Illinois rivers that limited product delivery for a large producer. Supply did not end up being constrained as other suppliers ended up filling those volumes.
Demand for US EPS improved throughout the second quarter, after beginning the year at a lacklustre pace. EPS is a rigid form of polystyrene (PS) used in insulation foams for the construction industry as well as for packaging. A delayed start to the construction season because of lingering winter conditions and heavy rainfall in the Midwest weighed on demand early in the quarter, but it gradually improved along with the weather.
We offer the following regional Expandable polystyrene analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Expandable polystyrene marketplace.
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Expandable Polystyrene Methodology
Expandable polystyrene (EPS) is a rigid cellular form of polystyrene with good thermal insulation and shock absorbing properties, high compressive strength, low weight and a resistance to moisture.
Expandable polystyrene (EPS) is a rigid cellular form of polystyrene (PS) with good thermal insulation and shock absorbing properties, high compressive strength, low weight and resistance to moisture.
Building and construction applications are the largest outlet for EPS. Large quantities are used to make insulation foam for closed cavity walls, roofs and floor insulation. EPS foam also finds uses in road construction, bridges, drainage, flotation and sound insulation.
The other main application of EPS is in packaging. Food items such as eggs, meat, fish and poultry can be packed with EPS. The good shock absorbency of EPS makes is suitable for the packaging of delicate electronic goods.
Other uses for EPS include providing protection in crash helmets and as decoration in design work.