The polystyrene market size was estimated at over USD 30 billion in 2020, and the market is projected to register a CAGR of over 4% during the forecast period (2021-2026).
The market was negatively impacted by COVID-19 in 2020. The global residential home construction revenue has witnessed a decline of 7% in 2020, compared to 2019, owing to lockdowns, unavailability of raw materials, and shortage of laborers. At the same time, demand for packaging products, including food packaging and non-food packaging, has increased owing to the rising trend of consumer spending on e-commerce and food delivery applications, thereby positively impacting the demand for polystyrene.
- Over the short term, major factors driving the market studied are recycling in the polystyrene industry and the growing consumer electronics market. The global consumer electronics industry has been growing rapidly across the world over the years, owing to the consistently increasing demand for cellular phones, portable computing devices, gaming systems, and other personal electronic devices. For instance, the Indian electronics market is expected to reach USD 400 billion by 2025. Additionally, India is expected to become the fifth-largest consumer electronics and appliances industry in the world by 2025.
- On the flip side, increasing the ban on polystyrene across North America and Europe and the availability of high-performance substitutes are likely to hinder the market.
- Asia-Pacific dominated the market across the world, with the largest consumption in countries such as India and China.
Key Market Trends
High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) Type to Dominate the Market
- High impact polystyrene contains rubber. It is less transparent than GPPS. It is mainly used for products that require high-impact resistance.
- HIPS has a standard flow but is less glossy than GPPS. It is crack-resistant and is used in injection molding. HIPS also has good dimensional stability. It is easy to paint and glue and has a low cost. It is used for housing and covers, low-strength structural components, printed graphics, models and prototypes, fixtures, etc. Majorly, HIPS are sold in high and medium grades. Other grades include ignition resistance, high-gloss grades, and environment stress crack-resistant grade.
- Packaging is the largest segment for HIPS. It is used for food packaging (of meat trays, egg cartons, fruit trays, dairy packaging, etc.), industrial packaging, and consumer packaging ( of cassettes, CD covers, etc.).
- Driven by the rise in population, demand for packaged food and beverage is set to witness further growth during the forecast period. The unprecedented shift from rural to urban living is a major demographic that is impacting the global consumption of packaged food.
- China stands to be the world's largest manufacturing economy and exporter, due to which the country's packaging requirement is huge. The packaging industry in China is expected to register tremendous growth, with a CAGR of nearly 6.8%, to reach CNY 2 trillion during the forecast period.
- However, the United States has banned the use of polystyrene in food packaging products such as boxes, containers, and carry bags, which is likely to impact the market growth negatively.
- HIPS are also used majorly in electronic and appliances applications, such as in computer housings, TV housings, and freezer and refrigerator liners appliances housings.
- Asia-Pacific is the largest consumer of high-impact polystyrene. It also produces about half of the world's HIPS. Europe and North America follow Asia-Pacific in consumption. Asia-Pacific is forecasted to be the fastest-growing region during the forecast period.
China to Dominate the Asia-Pacific Region
- China's construction industry developed rapidly due to the central government's push for infrastructure investment as a means to sustain economic growth.
- However, due to the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, the economic growth of China is now expected to contract to a considerable extent. According to International Monetary Fund, the country's GDP is estimated to have grown by 1.9% in 2020 while recovering to 8.2% growth in 2021, subject to post-pandemic recovery.
- China's 13th Five Year Plan started in 2016, and it was an important year for the country's engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) industry. In addition, the country ventured into new business models domestically and internationally during the year. Although the construction sector slowed down after 2013, it is still a major contributor to the GDP of the country.
- The country announced 300 major construction projects in Beijing in 2019. These 300 projects included 100 infrastructure projects, 100 projects focusing on the improvement of people's livelihoods, and 100 projects for high-end technological industries. The investment of the projects is expected to reach USD 35 billion.
- Moreover, the country witnessed rapid growth in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market. The growth of the FMCG market was majorly driven by the increased spending on premium and healthier products by the middle-class consumers in the country.
- China is the world's largest electronics production base and offers tough competition to the existing upstream producers, like South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Electronic products, such as smartphones, OLED TVs, tablets, and so on, have the highest growth in the market in the consumer electronics segment. With the increase in the disposable income of the middle-class population, the demand for electronic products is projected to grow in the near future.
- Furthermore, the Chinese government has started implementing policies to support and encourage innovations in medical devices. The "Made in China 2025" initiative aims to improve industry efficiency, product quality, and brand reputation. This is expected to increase the number of domestic medical device manufacturers, thus, increasing the competitiveness in the market. Demand for polystyrene exists in the medical device sector, in disposable items, such as tissue culture trays, test tubes, Petri dishes, diagnostic components, and housing for test kits, among many others.
- The medical device market in China is considered to be one of the fastest-growing market sectors and was estimated to cross over USD 95 billion by the end of 2020. The number of private hospitals in the country is relatively small, and the healthcare product procurement is majorly driven by large public hospitals, which has led to the increasing usage of medical devices in public hospitals and thus has stimulated the demand for optical coatings from the sector.
- In 2019, Chinese health expenditure was recorded to be ~USD 750 billion, which accounted for ~5.3% of the country's GDP. The medical device market in China has been witnessing strong growth with a growing number of hospitals and increasing demand for medical assistance. According to the China Association for Medical Device Industry, the medical device market size was recorded to be around ~USD 80 billion in 2019. About 70% of the growth was majorly fueled by hospital procurement.
- Hence, with the growth in the various end-user industries in the country, the demand for polystyrene is estimated to increase during the forecast period.
The polystyrene market is partially consolidated in nature. Some of the major players include BASF SE, SABIC, Total, LG Chem, and INEOS Styrolution Group GmbH.
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