High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is one of the most commonly used plastics found in multiple products in different applications. Physical, chemical and safety-related properties of high-density polyethylene make it a highly durable, chemically non-reactive and environmentally safe material. Its versatility, wide applicability and advanced performance characteristics support the demand for HDPE. The HDPE market is highly seasonal, which increases its volatility. For instance, some lengthy national holidays may easily tighten HDPE supplies or decrease its demand. It is vital to mention that its environmental safety is not universal. The material is not ideal as recycling of some HDPE-based products may result in excessive release of carbon dioxide and other toxins. In addition, there are some concerns expressed over possible leeching of phthalates used in producing some children’s toys made from high-density polyethylene, such as teething rings.
The global HDPE manufacturing capacity is spread not evenly from region to region, with Asia Pacific (mainly China and Thailand) accounting for nearly 43%.
High-Density Polyethylene: structure of the global manufacturing capacity broken down by region, 2014
The share of Asia Pacific is not particularly high as fairly large market chunks belong to North America (primarily the USA), Middle East (mainly Saudi Arabia) and Europe – 21%, 17% and 15%, respectively. Total global HDPE capacity in volume terms is 42 mln tons per year. Major HDPE facilities are either under construction or planned in the USA, Mexico, Thailand, Qatar, Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and some other countries. The HDPE market hosts a number of large manufacturers (INEOS, LyondellBasell, Formosa Plastics Corp – (FPC), SINOPEC, Thai Polyethylene Co Ltd., Braskem SA, ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Saudi Polymers, Chevron Phillips Chemical), but it is not oligopolistic and characterized by significant fragmentation of producers at various levels, niches and regions. The global HDPE market is expected to grow by 5% per year, but towards 2025 its growth rate will diminish.
More information on the high-density polyethylene market is provided in the insightful research report “Polyethylene High Density (HDPE): 2016 World Market Outlook and Forecast up to 2020”.