Plastic Compounding Market Potential in Automotive Sector, Bioplastics to Emerge as the ‘Next Big’ Industry Trend

February 02, 2018


Remarkably influenced by the shifting manufacturing trends toward adopting light weight and sturdy materials, plastic compounding market has registered itself as one of the most rapidly evolving business spheres, of late. In fact, being endorsed by the unmatched functional properties & affordability quotient, plastics have been the omnipresent workhorse material of the modern-day economy. Attesting this fact by a relevant statistic – plastics utilization has increased twentyfold over the last half-century and is expected to double over the timespan of coming two decades. The data further affirms the lucrative commercialization potential of plastics compounding industry in the ensuing years, with aerospace, automotive, and medical sectors anticipated to contribute immensely toward the business expansion. Add to it, with a myriad range of products including the likes of thermosetting, thermoplastics elastomers, bio-plastics, and thermoplastics polymers, the plastic compounding market has profoundly penetrated the construction, consumer goods, and medical devices sectors, adding a remarkable value to its globally expanded application portfolio.

Below is a succinct outline of the plastic compounding industry trends with automotive and aerospace applications as a frame of reference:

With plastics playing a key role in manufacturing lightweight and fuel-efficient vehicles, the automotive sector has witnessed a slew of upgradations in its product trends over the years, making the automotive plastics industry quite a dynamic business fraternity. The present quest for lower ownership cost by consumers and higher profitability levels by the OEMs has led to a revolution of sorts in the plastic compounding market demand, with manufacturers widely adopting plastics as a replacement to the metal parts. Furthermore, the regulatory landscape which is strongly emphasizing on using light weight materials in a bid to enhance the fuel efficiency is also profoundly playing its card in fueling the plastic compounding industry share in the automotive industry. Statistical data claims that every single 100 kg reduction in vehicle weight can result in saving of fuel consumption of over 0.4L/100km in case of cars and around 0.5L/ 100 km from light trucks. Driven by this synonymous relationship between light-weight of the vehicles and its efficiency, OEMs and automobile companies are widely embracing plastics as a vital component in the manufacturing process. Add to it, the mandatory acceptance and implementation of CAFÉ (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, has further had a remarkable impact on plastic compounding industry expansion from the automotive applications.

Yet another sector boasting of phenomenal application opportunities for plastic compounding industry is aerospace, where plastics are gaining considerable weightage for reducing the overall operational costs. Apparently, replacing aluminum with plastics has resulted into fuel & cost savings of up to 60%. Driven by such strong testament of enhancing the operational efficiency of the aircrafts, analysts claim the plastic compounding market size from aerospace applications to have generated a revenue of over USD 3 billion in 2016.

Amidst this backdrop where the demand for plastics is going through roof, several plastic compounding industry players are constantly trying to innovate their products and application ranges to sustain in this dynamic and ferociously competitive scenario. A. Schulman, Inc., for instance, a renowned global plastic compounding market player and a leading supplier of composites, high-performance plastic compounds, and powders has recently received the Automotive Innovation Award 2017 for Most Innovative Use of Plastics, from the Society of Plastics Engineers. As per news reports, A. Schulman’s Polytrope® TPP 1026EU a Thermoplastic Polyolefin Elastomer, was presented in the award winning Integrated Floor Bedliner Divider in the Chevrolet Silverado, 2017. Furthermore, in February 2016, the company added two new production lines at its Kerpen plant, Germany, in a bid to expand its compounding capacity in the region. Not to mention, Germany being a major hub for automobile manufacturing and having a renowned network and accessibility of chemicals & advanced materials and plastics, is proclaimed to be one of the major avenues for plastic compounding industry expansion. In fact, the entire continent of Europe has contributed quite a much toward plastic compounding industry, having held 20% of the global share in 2016 and backed by the strong presence of major automobile manufacturers.

Bioplastics –Defining the future plastic compounding product trends

Like several other fraternities, plastic compounding industry has also been phenomenally swayed by the rising sustainability trends – evidence of the fact being the rising demand for bioplastics on a global level. These components are projected to define the future of automotive & aerospace plastics and seemingly procure a major chunk of the plastic compounding market product landscape. In fact, as cited by reliable reports, bio-plastics is estimated to be the fastest growing segment of global plastic compounding market, with a projected CAGR of 8% over 2017-2024.

Speaking along similar lines, Ford, one of the most acclaimed names in automotive industry, is working extensively toward development of 100% petroleum free automotive plastics, to make the vehicles compostable. Coca Cola is another giant that has immensely contributed toward the rising bio-plastic trends. Reportedly, the company has launched a Plantbottle initiative where the soft drinks bottles will be 30% plant-based. With the trend gaining much of a traction from industry players spanning a myriad range of verticals, manufacturers are proactively altering their products in sync with the environmental and sustainability quotients.

Thriving on the cusp of such a broad range of applications and an era where plastic is the ‘material of choice’, the profitability landscape of plastic compounding market can be quoted as nothing but humongous. One of the major trends to watch for is the remuneration potential of plastic compound industry from 3D printing applications – another lucrative and evolving sector which can make remarkable additions to plastic compounding market share, which as per industry analysts holds a target of crossing USD 50 billion by 2024.