Polycarbonates are a group of thermoplastic polymers, which forms an important commodity chain from acetone/phenol feedstock to various end-products. They are notable for their excellent performance specs with respect to stability, impact strength, transparency, thermal resistance, processability, low-temperature toughness, dielectric properties, to name only a few.
Polycarbonate-related commodity chain
Its application areas are diverse and are subject to regional, commercial, macroeconomic, regulatory, temporal and other forms of variability. Globally, most demand for polycarbonates comes from the following sectors: electrical/electronics, automotive, construction and optical media. For instance, in 2016 major polycarbonate demand sectors in the USA were construction, pipe and automotive industry.
The influence of the regulatory dimension on the use of various chemical substances and products is quite appropriate in the context of polycarbonates. In late 2016, the European Parliament called for a complete ban on the use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in food packaging. In early 2017, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has added BPA to the Candidate List of SVHCs (or substances of very high concern). The Candidate List of SVHCs now contains 173 substances. BPA is an important intermediate in the manufacture of polycarbonates, epoxy resins and other chemicals. The polycarbonate industry representatives, which were initially greatly worried on the possible ramifications of this decision, were later relieved to stress that this move would have little impact on polycarbonate business since BPA is just an intermediary used in polycarbonate production and as such ECHA’s decision does not refer to the polycarbonate turnover. Meanwhile, the polycarbonate market is on the rise with polycarbonate demand and prices going up, especially in the USA and China. It is largely caused by rising feedstock costs, as well as by some macroeconomic and seasonal factors.
An in-depth analysis of the polycarbonate market is available in the topical research study “Polycarbonate (PC): 2017 World Market Outlook and Forecast up to 2021”.