Polyethylenes are the most commonly industrially produced plastics. The various types of polyethylene are labelled according to their density. This study covers the global market for low-density polyethylene, i.e. polyethylene with a density of between 0.91 to 0.94 g/cm³, usually referred to as LDPE.
LDPE is mainly used for packaging products. Global revenues generated with LDPE amounted to almost US$33 billion in 2013 and the market research institute Ceresana expects sales to increase by 1.5% p.a. until 2021.
Asia-Pacific And Middle East With Best Growth PotentialAsia-Pacific single-handedly processed about 7.1 million tonnes of LDPE in 2013. About 58% of this amount were consumed in China. As competition posed by alternative plastics (especially HDPE and LLDPE) limit an even stronger growth, future growth rates for LDPE demand will fall short of overall economic development in all regions. Asian countries, China and India in particular, and the Middle East will remain the largest growth markets for LDPE. The markets for LDPE in Western Europe and North America, on the other hand, are largely saturated and will thus grow only slowly in the future.
Declining Production in Western EuropeLDPE output in Western Europe is likely to fall due to the closure of production sites and an absence of capacity increases. In most other regions, however, LDPE production is expected to increase rapidly as a result of various capacity expansions. LDPE output in the Middle East is projected to rise at a high growth rate of 5.0% per year. This is mainly due to a number of large-scale petrochemical projects that will come on stream in upcoming years. These often are joint ventures of large international companies and regional enterprises. Various larger productions sites are to be constructed in North America and Asia-Pacific as well.
Film Production - Major Consumer of LDPELDPE is most commonly used for the production of films. About 63% of total demand stem from the production of films, with packaging films accounting for the largest market share in this sector. Bags and sacks as well as other films rank second and third. Other important applications are rigid packaging and construction products. On a global level, the segment construction products offers the largest growth potential of the next few years, thanks to new investments in infrastructure projects. In Asia, on the other hand, it is especially films, LDPE packaging films in particular, that offer the largest growth potential, since Asian countries are increasingly adapting to Western standards for packaged food.
Extrusion DominatingIn a global comparison, film extrusion is the most common technology for processing LDPE. Other technologies, namely extrusion coating, injection molding, and other processes like blow molding and rotomolding, account for a market share of only 37%. The various world regions show only minor differences in regard to processing technologies. For example, extrusion coating is disproportionally often used in North America, while Eastern European countries use large amounts of LDPE not only in film extrusion, but also injection molding.