Poland's Grupa Azoty ZAK confident on plasticizers growth as Asia urbanises

17 November 2017 12:44 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Grupa Azoty ZAK is confident about the growth and longevity of plasticizer dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP) as end markets are set to continue growing, especially in Asia, according to an executive at the Polish producer this week.

According to Maciej Budner, marketing manager at Grupa Azoty ZAK, the company has become the largest manufacturer of DOTP in Europe and the second largest for the feedstock 2-ethyl hexanol (2-EH).

The executive was speaking at the OXO Conference in Sopot, Poland, on Thursday.

Market drivers for plasticizers are driven by polyvinyl chloride (PVC) applications (90%) and there are a lot of diverse end-uses, with wire and cable taking up 23%, followed by film and sheet and flooring.

Global flexible PVC consumption accounted for 11.7m tonnes in 2016, with Asia taking the dominant position at 6.8m tonnes, followed by Europe with 1.6m tonnes.

However, Budner went on to say the market in Europe is stagnant as it is a very mature market, so the growth will be driven mostly by Asia, especially China.

Nevertheless, there were still expectations that over the next few years global growth will continue, although he noted there is competition in Europe and the US in particular, where PVC is being challenged by polyolefins and plastics in certain applications such as food packaging and films.

World global capacity of plasticizers is around 13m tonnes and China is still a net importer, with various plants mothballed and running at reduced rates, estimated around 50-60%.

On demand, global estimates in 2015 stood at 9m tonnes, with prediction that this will grow by a third to 12m tonnes by 2024.

Europe accounted for around 1.2m tonnes in 2015 and there is a small growth of around 100,000 tonnes predicted by 2024, with the main growth driven by China.

Europe has more than 30 producers, but there are eight majors responsible for approximately 80% of the volume.

In the long-term perspective, China will need to follow the path of legislation.

In Europe, declines have been seen in certain plasticizers “due to negative image caused by regulatory issues,” said Budner, referring to the EU’s chemical regulation REACH.

Due to the changing landscape, there is a high degree of diversity in plasticizers produced and used in processing.

More specialised, eco-friendly products, not restricted or without regulatory concerns, are sought and provided by suppliers.

The European market was described at the OXO conference as being innovative in terms of plasticizers and finished products.

Following news on 15 November that the company will increase its DOTP capacity by 15,000 tonnes in 2018, Budner added: “DOTP is the most developing plasticizer and hence why we decided to increase capacity, as it is a good alternative.”

Budner concluded highlighting:

  • Plasticizers are driven by performance of flexible PVC
  • Flexible PVC applications are versatile
  • Flexible PVC and plasticizers are highly regulated, especially in the EU and the US
  • Highest growth rates both of PVC and plasticizer markets will be generated by Asia, particularly China, while the mature markets of the EU and the US are changing structurally
  • There is a diversity of plasticizer types used in processing

Plasticizers are used in plastics or other materials to import viscosity, flexibility, softness, or other properties to the finished product.

Pictured above: a Grupa Azoty ZAK plant in Poland
Source: Grupa Azoty ZAK

Focus article by Jane Massingham

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By Jane Massingham