Polystyrene is a thermoplastic polymer, synthesized by polymerization of styrene monomer. Raw materials for styrene synthesis include ethylbenzene and benzene. Polystyrene melts when heated above its melting temperature and becomes rigid when allowed to cool. This property proves beneficial in the manufacture of various components in the construction and electronics industry. Polystyrene can be subjected to use extrusion, molding and vacuum forming techniques to manufacture various components. Expandable polystyrene (EPS) is a type of polystyrene that is expanded with the help of air, and fused together to form blocks.
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Rising demand from the packaging industry in BRICS countries is anticipated to boost the global polystyrene & EPS market. Increasing demand for polystyrene & EPS from consumer electronics and electronic components is further estimated to drive the global polystyrene & EPS market. However, volatility in prices of raw materials is projected to hamper market growth in the near future. Furthermore, availability of high performance substitutes is likely to act as a major restraining factor for the polystyrene & EPS market. Shift towards recycled polystyrene products is expected to offer high opportunities for players in the market in the next few years.
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In terms of volume and revenue, the packaging industry emerged as the largest application segment for the global polystyrene & EPS market in 2013. Packaging is anticipated to remain the largest application in the near future. Major end-user industries for packaging application segment include food, retail and consumer goods. Electrical & electronics was the second-largest outlet for polystyrene in 2013 and is estimated to be fastest growing application during the forecast period.
Capacitors and electronic components constitute the largest portion of the electrical & electronics application segment. Polystyrene & EPS are used in the manufacture of refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, televisions, handheld devices, and IT and telecom equipment. Growth in the consumer electronics industry and increasing use of polystyrene in the manufacture of electronic components is projected to drive the market for polystyrene & EPS. Demand for polystyrene & EPS in building & construction application is likely to be driven by governmental regulations regarding energy conservation in North America and Europe. Polystyrene is primarily used in the insulation of flooring and roofing.
China dominated the global polystyrene & EPS market in 2013 in terms of volume and revenue. The country has been experiencing high demand for polystyrene & EPS from packaging and electrical & electronics applications since the past few years. Demand for polystyrene & EPS in China is expected to grow at a rapid pace in the next few years. Major electronics manufacturing companies from Japan are shifting their plants to China due to low production cost and abundant availability of raw materials in the country. Requirement of raw materials such as polystyrene has increased significantly due to the shift of manufacturing bases to China. Demand for polystyrene & EPS in North America is anticipated to experience sluggish growth due to prohibition of polystyrene in food packaging application in the region. The building & construction industry is estimated to be the fastest growing application segment in North America as polystyrene is used in thermal insulation roofing and flooring. Demand for polystyrene & EPS in Europe is projected to increase at a moderate growth rate in the next few years.
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The global polystyrene & EPS market is highly fragmented; there is no clear leader in the market. Some multinational companies exhibit a high degree of forward integration and develop application-specific polystyrene & EPS products. Key players in the market include S.C. Adeplast S.A., BASF SE, INEOS Styrenics, Kaneka Corporation, Nova Chemicals Corporation, Owens Corning, Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, and Synthos S.A.
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