Polyethylene wax is a type of synthetic wax manufactured by polymerization of ethylene at high or low pressure. It can also be manufactured by thermal cracking of propylene. Polyethylene wax can be modified to enhance its properties. These modifications include oxidization, acid modification, and micronization. Various grades of polyethylene with different modifications are offered by manufacturers for specific applications. For instance, micronized polyethylene wax is offered for coatings application.
Rising demand for polyethylene wax in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production is expected to be a major factor driving the market growth. Polyethylene wax is widely used in the plastic processing industry. For instance, when polyethylene wax is used as a mold release agent in the plastic molding process, it increases productivity, enables the molding complex to take shape, and reduces pollution. Polyethylene wax is used in the processing of most plastics that are molded using injection and extrusion molding. PVC production is projected to increase significantly in the emerging economies of Asia Pacific. This, in turn, is estimated to boost the demand for polyethylene wax in the near future. Furthermore, growth in the coatings industry is likely to significantly fuel the polyethylene wax market during the forecast period. Polyethylene wax increases the performance of coatings and coated surfaces at a low cost. It can be used in water- or solvent-based formulations. Addition of polyethylene wax to the final coating formulation forms a gel-like structure. It also provides a uniform and very effective pigment suspension coupled with sag control.
This results in uniform color distribution and easier application coupled with very less drip on the surface. Rapid industrialization in the developing economies, increase in stringency in regulations, rising competition, and innovation and development of unique products and technologies are key factors boosting the coatings industry. Polyethylene wax is an important component of coatings formulation. Hence, growing coatings industry propels the polyethylene wax market.
Ethylene, a crude oil derivative, is the major raw material employed in the manufacture of polyethylene wax. Therefore, volatility in prices of ethylene, affected due to fluctuating crude oil prices, is hampering the polyethylene wax market. Furthermore, availability of substitutes such as petroleum and Fischer-Tropsch (FT) waxes is likely to restrict the market growth. FT waxes are virtually odorless, making them ideal for use in applications that require the addition of color or fragrance such as candles, printing inks, packaging, fiberboard, and plastic processing. FT waxes demonstrate a comparable performance to polyethylene waxes. This makes them an ideal substitute for polyethylene wax in various applications. Development of recycled pyrolytic cross-linked polyethylene wax (RPPW) is anticipated to offer immense growth opportunities in the market during forecast period.
Based on application, the global polyethylene wax market can be bifurcated into eight key segments: candles, packaging, wood & firelogs, plastic additives & lubricants, rubber, adhesives & coatings, cosmetics, and others. In terms of volume, candles was the largest application segment in the global polyethylene wax market in 2014 and accounted for over 20% of the share in the same year. This was followed by the plastic additives & lubricants segment in 2014. Plastic additives & lubricants is anticipated to be the fastest growing application segment during the forecast period. It is likely to surpass the candles application in terms of volume in the near future. Adhesives & coatings, packaging, and cosmetics segments are projected to grow at a moderate rate during the forecast period. Others application segment includes niche applications such as printing inks, laminates, polishes, etc.