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Plastics Pathway to Sustainability

24 October 2018 Robin Waters

Plastics sustainability is one of the biggest potential disruptors on the policy front and an issue that could lead to greater regulation (including bans) and/or deselection by consumers, retailers and brand owners. The issue of plastics waste, especially ocean pollution, has come to the forefront of topics guiding decisions for the entire value chain.

The demand for plastics effects upstream petrochemical demand (olefins, aromatics, ECU) that is critically important to the petrochemical value chain as well as for integrated oil companies seeking refuge in petrochemicals from uncertain refining markets. The petrochemical value chain is global and dynamic with shifting drivers. Dramatic shifts in crude creates broad based uncertainty and a pause in making major investment decisions. North America Shale gas significantly shifted the geographical balance of supply and trade for many base chemicals and plastics, with a less pronounced effect on the global market demand. Changes in China environmental policies, including bans on imported scrap materials, as well as protectionist trade policies have an immediate and significant impact on polymer trade patterns.

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Plastics sustainability is no less a fundamental driver and is perhaps one of the least understood from a demand, supply, regulatory and technology standpoint. It's a challenge that involves every participant of the value chain - from energy to consumer and encompassing both the private and public sector.

As trends develop participants through the value chain are re-assessing their business models and either considering or already implementing vertical and/or horizontal integration plans. Examples today included polymer producers adding recycling assets, brand owners adding processing that includes use of PCR. Plastics sustainability has the potential to change the total demand and demand growth rate for virgin plastics and significantly impact the viability of present assets (plants) and future expansions both in plastics, upstream chemicals, and feedstocks.

For these reasons, IHS Markit believes it is time to bring its core competencies to bear with the vision to help stake holders move progressively to understand the issues of plastics sustainability.

A Sea Change: Plastics Pathway to Sustainability special study helps stakeholders move progressively to address the issues of plastics sustainability with extensive analysis and data quantifying the impacts. Listen to our recent webinar demonstrating how you can utilize our new special study, "A Sea Change: Plastics Pathway to Sustainability" to adjust your strategy around this key issue.

Posted 24 October 2018 by Robin Waters, Director, Plastics Planning and Analysis

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