Polycarbonate: Eco-friendly Thermoplastics towards Circular Product
Polycarbonate resin is an eco-friendly and recyclable thermoplastic material which are used in varieties of industries and daily use products. The set of unique properties made it a better alternative for glass, polyethylene, and other plastics materials. The covid-19 pandemic had affected the polycarbonate production as well as there was the disruption in the global supply chain in 2020. Key manufacturers of PC resins have a long lead time in addition to the increased prices. The market also had restraints because of the lockdown activities and slower rate or delay in production output in various end-user industries like automotive, building & construction, electrical and electronics, etc., which are the major end-use applications for polycarbonate resins.
The focus on sustainability and environment-friendly solutions has driven the new innovative products in polycarbonate production. In Aug 2021, SABIC announced the launch of its certified circular polycarbonate (PC) resin and blends made from the upcycling of post-consumer mixed plastic - a first in this industry. This new circular polycarbonate product can be used by Electrical & Electronics, Automotive, Medical, Building & Construction, and Consumer Goods under identical process conditions to those used for its incumbent.
The demand for polycarbonates in medical applications has increased due to their major properties such as clarity, high strength and impact resistance, good heat resistance, low water absorption, and biocompatibility. Recently in March 2021, Covestro's launched low-friction and glass-filled polycarbonates, which can be used in applications in which plastic parts slide against one another, such as injections, surgical instruments, and drug-delivery devices, single-use sterile instruments, etc.
According to AKI Research, the global polycarbonate resin market is estimated to value USD 8,769.95 million in 2020 and is forecast to value USD 11,131.9 million at a CAGR of 4.05% over the forecast period 2020-2026.
By region, the Asia-Pacific market continues to dominate the polycarbonate resin market, and in 2020, the region is estimated to have a revenue share of 55.29% in the global market. It was followed by Europe and North America. The region is also the major target focus for new production lines during the forecast period, mainly in China, Thailand, and others where Covestro, CHIMIE Corporation, Hainan Huasheng, ZPC, SABIC-Sinopec, Wanhua, Shemna, etc. would be the major additions. China is the largest market in the Asia-Pacific region for polycarbonate resins. The country is the largest market for PC resins and is currently the top importer of PC resins worldwide. China's polycarbonate production capacity will increase gradually in the coming years. The supply and demand gap will also decrease over the forecast period, hence, will lower the foreign dependencies in the future. According to ASIACHEM, China's polycarbonate production will reach 2.7 million tons by 2025, and the supply and demand gap will be about 800,000 tons.
By end-user industry, in 2020, the electrical and electronics accounted for the highest market share of 27.06%, followed by building & construction and automotive & transportation. China has the world's largest electronics production base, and it offers tough competition to the existing upstream producers, such as South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Electronic products, such as smartphones, TVs, tablets, phone cases, wires, cables, sensor parts, connectors, electronics devices, battery boxes, etc., have the highest growth rates in the electrical & electronics segment of the market in terms of demand. With the increase in the disposable incomes of the middle-class population, the demand for electrical & electronic products is projected to increase steadily in the future, thereby driving the polycarbonate resins demand.
In automotive, polycarbonate is used in interior and exterior parts & accessories such as dashboard, headlamps, bumpers, body panels, etc., because of its lighter, higher durability, strength, heat resistance, etc. properties. The Chinese automotive manufacturing industry is the largest in the global market, with a production share of just over 28% in 2019. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), automotive production declined by about 2% in 2020. The country produced 25,225,242 units in 2020, which declined from 25,750, 650 units in 2019. However, in Q1, 2021, production reached 6,352,028, which was an increase of over 81.7% over Q1 2020. This has supported the market demand for polycarbonate resins in the country.
Key Market Players
The polycarbonate resins market is consolidated, where the top five players account for approximately more than 67% revenue share in 2020. The top key players are Covestro, SABIC, Teijin Corporation, Sinopec, Mitsubishi, Lyondellbasell, Trinseo SA, LG Chemicals, Formosa, Chi Mei Corporation, Ningbo Zhetie Daphoon Chemical Co. Ltd., etc.
"Top 5 importing countries of Polycarbonate in primary form by quantity in 2020: China, Mexico, India, Germany, and Singapore.
Top 5 exporting countries of Polycarbonate in primary form by quantity in 2020: South Korea, Thailand, United States, Spain, and The Netherlands"
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