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China hungry for thermoplastics

05.01.2012  |  Thinnes, Billy,  Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, Houston, TX

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Newly discovered plastic blends are helping to satisfy the huge demand for thermoplastics being brought about by China’s swelling home retail industry, according to a new report by market intelligence company GBI Research.

The report found that new blends, which have expanded the potential uses for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) (Fig. 1), have enabled the plastics market to keep up with orders from end-use sectors such as household appliances, electrical and electronics products.

  Fig. 1.  Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is in high
  demand in China.

While the demand for ABS has been steadily increasing across the world over the last decade, a significant portion of this increase has stemmed from Asia-Pacific, with the region accounting for 77.3% of global demand in 2010.

Due to high demand, China has rapidly emerged as a global petrochemical products manufacturing hub, threatening to overtake many of its competitor regions, such as the Middle East. China is the leader of the Asia-Pacific ABS market, due to a high demand for thermoplastics upheld by a rapidly growing population and an increasing average income. However, the country imports a considerable amount of ABS in order to meet demand for the production of appliances and electronics, creating potential for ABS capacity additions in locations with low operating costs.

Further technological advancement are expected in the sector, similar to manufacturers who are currently blending new compounds like polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), nylon 6 and liquid crystalline polymer (LCP) with ABS to create novel plastics. Constant innovation in the field is expected to further increase the demand for ABS in a wider range of applications in the future.

In 2000, global ABS demand stood at 4.6 million tons, before increasing to 6.4 million tons in 2010, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.4%. Global demand for ABS is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2010–2020, reaching 10.9 million tons in 2020.  HP



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