Fundamentals of the Polymers Business

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The polymer markets landscape has been characterised by volatile pricing, uncertain demand-supply outlook and rising self-sufficiency in China. It’s never been more important to understand the fundamentals of polymer production, applications, pricing and markets.

This two-day course is designed to give delegates a comprehensive understanding of both the commercial and technical aspects of polymers, enabling industry players to have a clear view of the industry and its direction.

Exploring production processes, feedstocks, supply/demand trends, price drivers and regional dynamics in the context of recent developments, the course offers insights into the market situation and outlook for the coming months and years.

View the agenda or Reserve your place now


Welcome and introduction

Understanding petrochemicals and polymers

  • What are petrochemicals and where do they come from?
  • An overview of polymer chemistry explaining what are monomers/polymers, thermosets vs thermoplastics

Polymer feedstocks explained


  • What are the key polymer feedstocks
  • The main routes to making ethylene and propylene
  • The other raw materials – butadiene, styrene
  • The ethylene, propylene and butadiene value chains explained



Introduction to polyethylene


  • Brief history and early days of development
  • Different types of polyethylene and key applications
  • LDPE, LLDPE and HDPE – properties, production process, technologies and grades/applications
  • Latest developments
  • Overview of global and regional supply/demand, major producers
  • Key end-use segments
  • Major demand drivers



Introduction to polypropylene


  • Brief history and early days of development
  • Production process, catalysts, technologies, types of PP, grades/applications
  • Latest product developments
  • Overview of global and regional supply/demand, major producers
  • Key end-use segments
  • Major demand drivers


Introduction to PVC


  • Brief history and early days of development
  • Production process – ethylene and carbide routes to making PVC
  • Different grades of PVC and their applications
  • Overview of global and regional supply/demand, major producers
  • Key end-use segments and demand drivers



Building the value chain

Delegates will work in groups to put together the ethylene and propylene chain covering all derivatives.

Plastics processing fundamentals

  • The different polymer properties (MFI, etc) and their role in processing

Wrap-up and Objectives for Day Two



Pricing and markets


  • Key price drivers
  • Cost structure, influence of feedstock costs and margin analysis
  • How pricing is assessed
  • Differences in markets and price mechanisms across Asia, Europe and The Americas
  • China and its influence on markets
  • The role of futures markets in China and its influence on the physical market



The world of polyethylene terephthalate (PET)


  • PET and polyester
  • Early days of development
  • Production process
  • Grades and applications
  • Overview of global and regional demand/supply, major producers
  • Key end-use segments and demand drivers
  • Recycling and its importance in the PET business



Styrenics – polystyrene (PS) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)


  • Brief history and early days of development
  • Production process and technologies
  • Different grades and their applications
  • Overview of global and regional demand/supply, major producers
  • Key end-use segments and demand drivers
  • Major shifts in the PS business


Delegates will work in groups to answer questions. The purpose of this quiz is to reinforce learning from the presentations.


Industry trends and company strategies


  • Key business drivers
  • Major shifts in company strategies
  • Investment trends and changes to trade flows
  • Growth opportunities and challenges
  • Environmental issues




Reserve your place now



Paul Cherry – Consultant, Officium Projects

Paul has 20 years’ experience in the petrochemical industry working for Lyondell Basell and its predecessor companies, Basell, Montell and Shell Chemicals.From 2002 to 2010 he was based in Hong Kong and was responsible for supply chain and procurement activities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. After leaving Lyondell Basell, Paul has been working with Officium Projects, a company offering consulting and engineering services to the petrochemical industry as well as the ICIS training business.

Why attend this course?

  • Explore the impact of recent events on the industry, both in the short- and long-term
  • Understand the factors driving prices, supply and demand
  • A jargon-free explanation of polymers production and processes
  • Gain insight into market trends and regional dynamics
  • Learn about key raw materials and technologies

Reserve your place now




Testimonials from past delegates of this course

“It is with great pleasure that I provide the following testimonial for the “FUNDAMENTALS OF THE POLYMERS BUSINESS” training course led by Paul Cherry.

Being a Packaging Technologist it is always important to understand the trends of plastic materials to ensure the right choices are made in the design phase. I found the “FUNDAMENTALS OF THE POLYMERS BUSINESS” training course has helped me to investigate and provide alternatives that consider the future trends. This in turn assists the company to be proactive rather than reactive. Paul was very informative and his style of presenting kept everyone engaged”.

Packaging Technologist, LION Dairy and Drinks, Australia

“I’m new to the world of chemicals and polymers in specific, so this course was more like an introduction to the business. It has helped me a lot, after the course I got a fine idea of all different products/applications plus a very good view on the different controlling markets (America/Asia/ME/Europe) which is decisive to develop a vision behind the pricing of both raw materials/finished products. Also Paul Cherry was a very interactive teacher and he answered all of my questions superbly, so really enjoyed this course!

I would sincerely recommend it to anybody who is new to the business and if I get the opportunity I will surely do so!”

Sales Manager, NCT Middle East


Course Fees

If you require fees information, please contact us via


In-House Training

ICIS works alongside our clients to create bespoke training courses that mould our expertise and your specific needs. We’ll pinpoint the current expertise of your employees, areas for improvement, and your business goals, and develop a training course that will bring tangible benefits to your business.

Our custom training courses are delivered as interactive workshops, focusing on the products, concepts and issues that are most relevant and beneficial to you.

  • Save money on transportation and accommodation, with training at a convenient location
  • Flexibility – you determine the length and duration of the sessions
  • Interactive workshops with hands-on exercises, to reinforce key skills, techniques and concepts
  • Take-away the course materials, presentations and background information for future reference

To enquire about in-house training for this course please click here and a member of our team will get back to you.


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Upcoming Polymers Courses

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Hear what Paul Cherry has to say about the course