Polypropylene, commonly abbreviated as PP and also known as polypropene, falls under the category of thermoplastics within the polymer industry. Polypropylene is available in the form of resin as well as fiber, thus, it finds use in a large variety of applications. Packaging, textiles, stationery, industrial machinery, automotive components, electronic components and laboratory equipments are some of the major applications of polypropylene. Traditionally, polypropylene is produced by polymerization of propene. Commercially, polypropylene is manufactured by three methods: hydrocarbon slurry, bulk slurry, and gas phase.
Polypropylene is molded using either injection molding process or extrusion process. The most common process used in manufacturing products made of polypropylene is injection molding which assists in manufacturing containers of various shapes and sizes, as well as automotive, electronic and machinery components of various shapes and sizes. Moreover, polypropylene can be extruded and stretched in both machine directions as well as across machine direction to form films, which is also known as biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP). Furthermore, polypropylene is recyclable.
Presently, there are over 190 manufacturers of polypropylene spread across the globe. The global demand for polypropylene was over 56 million tons in 2013. Lyondell Basell, Sinopec Group, Braskem Group, SABIC, PetroChina Group, Reliance Industries, Borealis, Total PC, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corp., Japan Polypropylene, and Ineos Olefins & Polymers are some of the key participants present in the global polypropylene market. Owing to the growing demand for polypropylene, several companies are actively participating in numerous expansion activities and licensing technologies to increase their penetration in the global market. For instance, on December 19, 2014, Malaysia's Petronas licensed LyondellBasellâs technology to manufacture polypropylene. Petronasâs 900 tons per year polypropylene plant is a part of the companyâs refinery and petrochemical integrated development (Rapid) project worth USD 27 billion.
Packaging was the largest end-use segment of the polypropylene within the global market in 2013, owing the usage of the polymer as rigid packaging as well as packaging films. Packaging was followed by electrical components. Industrial equipment, construction, automotive components and household appliances also held significant market shares within the global polypropylene market in the same year. Growing demand for packaging, particularly in emerging economies of Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa, is expected to drive the growth of the polypropylene market. Additionally, growing demand for polypropylene from the automotive sector is likely to augment the demand for the polymer over the next few years. Factors such as implementation of stringent regulation for vehicle efficiency which can be achieved by reducing the weight of the vehicle is expected to play an important role in the growing demand for polypropylene. Moreover, light weight of this polymer coupled with excellent ability to mold and low costs are vital parameters which have helped in growing demand for polypropylene across various end-use industries.
Growth of the global packaging industry is expected to be one of the primary drivers which are expected to drive the polypropylene market over the next few years. Additionally, rising demand for automobiles particularly in emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil is anticipated to drive the demand for light materials such as polypropylene. Additionally, rising disposable income of consumers has led to a growing demand for electronics such as smart phones, personal care appliances and household appliances. This in turn is expected to fuel to the potential expansion of the polypropylene market over the next few years. However, environmental issues associated with degradation of polypropylene when exposed to ultra-violet (UV) rays as well as high temperatures are expected to inhibit the growth of the market. Nonetheless, research and development on inhibition of degradation of PP when exposed to high temperatures and UV rays is expected to open new opportunities for the growth of the market. Furthermore, development of bio-based PP is expected to open new opportunities of growth for the market.
Asia Pacific led the global polypropylene industry in 2013 and the trend is expected to continue into the forecast period. Rapid industrialization in this region is anticipated to drive the demand for polypropylene in the abovementioned end-use industries during the next forecast years. North America and Europe have become matured markets for PP and the regions are expected to witness steady growth during the forecast period. Brazil, Africa and Middle East are likely to witness a high demand for this polymer owing to the increasing construction activities in the region on account of improving economic conditions and industrialization.