The global and regional polystyrene markets are directly influenced by the feedstock styrene monomer price fluctuations. Styrene monomer prices are in turn driven by oil prices. The present political instability in the Middle East was instrumental in raising the current oil prices. Other factors (maintenance seasonality, supply issues, demand from consuming sectors, etc.) are responsible for polystyrene price changes. For instance, in late December 2019, Americas Styrenics, a major US polystyrene producer with a polystyrene production capacity of 958k mty, announced a $0.03/lb increase in the transaction prices of all polystyrene grades manufactured by the company. The price rise announced by Americas Styrenics became effective January 1, 2020.
Apart from regular market fluctuations, the polystyrene market demonstrates long-term trends. The declining popularity of polystyrene in Europe has been evident for several years. The tightening of the European legislation (e.g. single-use plastics ban, which will come into force by 2021 in all EU member states) and changing consumer sentiment in relation to plastics are powerful factors. Together with strong competition at the polystyrene market, these factors were behind the closure of Total Petrochemical’s 110K mty plant in El Prat de Llobregat (Spain). Total S.A. polystyrene manufacturing capacity is about 1 mln mty.
Polystyrene: structure of the global consumption by region
While the polystyrene popularity in Europe diminishes, the interest for polystyrene in Asia remains strong. Asia accounts for over a half of global polystyrene consumption. Therefore, INEOS Styrolution, which is the global leader in styrenics, continues its successful expansion in China. In 2020, INEOS Styrolution starts the construction of a 600k mty ABS plant adjacent to its 200k mty polystyrene plant at Ningbo, Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. The project involves close cooperation with local authorities and highlights the strong presence of Ineos Styrolution in the region.
In Europe, INEOS Styrolution is heavily involved in the development of ecologically safe plastics. In 2020, the company will realize the pilot-scale phase of its project for producing polystyrene from recycled material. This opens up a new chapter in the plastics industry development. In general, new developments at the global polystyrene market promise a very interesting year for the polystyrene industry.
Find a detailed analysis of the global polystyrene market in the in-demand research report “Polystyrene (PS): 2020 World Market Outlook and Forecast up to 2029”.