Plastic packaging takes up a large volume of the high density polyethylene produced. Roughly 30% of the global packaging industry materials used is high density polyethylene (HDPE), as it is a core plastic in rigid packaging. Bags, films, containers, caps and closures, and bottles are the most common packaging products that use high density polyethylene. There is currently a very high demand for these types of packaging across the world, owing to a greater consumption of food and beverages and consumer goods. The growing importance of aesthetics is also a key factor that adds to the primary demand for HDPE.
The growing demand for pipes and films in the agriculture industry is another avenue where large quantities of high density polyethylene is used. This industry is one of the larger end users of high density polyethylene and therefore, any growth in it will create a direct increase in the demand for HDPE. High density polyethylene is used in manufacturing UV protective sheets and tarpaulins that offer high quality weather protection.
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Growing Demand for Plastic Packaging Fuels HDPE Demand
There is an increased demand for rigid packaging especially from the food and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries. This in turn is driving the demand for high density polyethylene. Another factor driving the demand for HDPE is its increasing use in the agriculture sector. HDPE tarpaulins, pipes, and films are widely used across various applications in the agriculture sector.
HDPE pipes have superior properties and attributes, making them the preferred choice over conventional pipes made of PVC. The use of HDPE sheets owing to the excellent UV protection and weather resistance, which they offer, is also driving the demand for HDPE across the globe.
Fluctuating Prices of Crude Oil Impact HDPE Market
The manufacturing of HDPE requires the use of ethylene, a petrochemical derivative. The ethylene market has witnessed substantial supply and cost instability, which in turn is affecting the HDPE market. This is because the cost of crude oil is subjected to sudden fluctuations, which is affecting the cost of the production of petroleum-based ethylene and subsequently, the price of HDPE. The volatility in the price of raw materials is thus, having a negative impact on the growth of the HDPE market.
FMCG and Packaging Companies are Going Green – Demand for Bio-based HDPE to Rise
The growing environmental concerns are causing players in the HDPE market to focus on bio-based alternatives in place of petroleum-based derivatives. Bio-based HDPE not only has environmental benefits, but also eliminates the price fluctuation problem associated with petroleum-based ethylene. Bio-based HDPE reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 75% and is currently being preferred by major companies such as Procter & Gamble, Tetra-Pak, and Ecover. This is encouraging the growth of the bio-based HDPE market. “Bio-based HDPE will open new opportunities for growth in the market and could very well be the future of HDPE,” states a TMR analyst.
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The region-based consumption of high density polyethylene is expected to be led by Asia Pacific till 2023, followed by Europe and North America. Europe and North America are relatively more mature than Asia Pacific in terms of high density polyethylene consumption, but are still showing a decent increase in consumption of the plastic owing to booming sales of consumer goods in rigid packaging. Additionally, high density polyethylene is approved by organizations such as the U.S. FDA, making users prefer it over other polymers.
Expanding Food Packaging Industry to Increase Demand for Blow Molding
On the basis of product, the global high density polyethylene market is segmented into pipe and extrusion, blow molding, injection molding, and film and sheet. Of these, blow molding not only led the market in 2014, but this market segment is expected to gain shares and account for 29.1% of the global HDPE market by 2023. The growth in the bow molding segment is driven by the rising demand from the food packaging industry.
On the basis of application, packaging was the largest segment in 2014, accounting for 30.5% of the global HDPE market. The packaging segment will retain its dominant hold over the market in the coming years, due to the high use of HDPE in the rigid and flexible packaging of cans, bottles, films, and packets.
The top producers of high density polyethylene from a global standpoint include Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, LyondellBasell Industries, INEOS Olefins and Polymers, SABIC, and ExxonMobil.