Guest Columnist

Mel Ettenson’s Global Plastics News

IAPD is pleased to welcome Mel Ettenson as a guest columnist each month in the IAPD News offering unique content for IAPD members.

The column below is only a sample of the Global Plastics News. If you are interested in learning more about the entire publication, visit

Overall, economies are growing at the briskest pace in 18 months. Revenues in our industry are beginning to approach high single- (and in some rare cases) low double-digit growth, year over year. Manufacturing is holding steady with gradual growth in almost every industry: automotive, medical, metal fabrication, electrical equipment, construction and appliances. A halt to this growth is still possible due mostly to uncertainty in the Middle East and BRIC countries. The Euro Zone is finally emerging from recession with reports of a 1.1 percent annualized growth rate in its economy in the second quarter of 2013. Business spending will continue slowly upward, despite some reluctance for banks to finance and companies to spend their cash reserves. Swings such as we have seen in the stock markets will also be prevalent in measuring economic growth. Get set for continuing growth into late 2013 and early 2014. Our industry will be in for this ride, which will be difficult to plan for.

Continuing shale exploration for natural gas, along with solar panels and oil at below US$100 per barrel are energy moves worth watching for their impact on our industry. More oil from Libya, Angola and the United States and less demand based on global recessions are contributory factors. Expect continuing wild swings in all markets, including financial, petroleum and polymers, into 2014. This pre-supposes no disruption of supply caused by political unrest in the Middle East (fortunately Syria is not oil relevant). Growing supplies of natural gas are good news for industrial users, especially plastics processors that manufacture formaldehyde-based polymers such as acetal. Continuing trends are: credit card transactions move to mobile devices, eliminating terminals and personnel. Tablet computers replace laptops as sales engineers telecommute and interact with customers in a more mobile environment.

Most resin and therefore shapes prices have trended slightly higher and once again were selectively up last month. The outlook for the second half is for a continuation of this trend, with some selective exceptions, which will raise prices by single digits in the fourth quarter of 2013, especially in PE, PP, PVC and nylon. Be watchful about exchange traded products (ETPs), which will be market-driven rather than supply-demand or input-cost driven.

PEEK resin from Victrex makes important inroads to replace metals, saving 70 percent of the weight of an Airbus — an important application portending a plethora of new industrial applications. Kaman, Grainger and Wolseley (all multi-billion dollar industrial, with some plastics presence) all reporting sales and profit gains in the second quarter of 2013 and project this trend for the balance of 2013. DuPont is in play to be acquired by private equity and its plastics group (including Teflon products) will undoubtedly be spun off eventually, probably in 2014. Plastics News moves from Akron, OH, USA to Detroit MI, USA under its Crain Communications parent’s umbrella.  

There’s even more oil and natural gas underground in the United States than first believed. Expect production to continue to grow: At 7.5 million barrels per day, crude oil is flowing at a 22-year high and will approach 8 million by 2014. Augers will for keeping thermoplastic resin prices in check and thus inflation will not be a factor next year; growth will be real. Speaking of the economies of the BRICS block, look for a slowing growth in their economies this year: Brazil at 2 percent, Russia 2.5 percent, India 5 percent and China 7 percent. Add South Africa (the “S” in BRICS) at 2 percent. Look for many Brazilians to visit the IAPD Convention and Plastics Showcase in Miami next month. Florida has become a haven for Portuguese-speaking business people from Brazil.


About Mel Ettenson
THE GLOBAL PLASTICS LETTER is a quick, highly informative plastics newsletter - to the point and timely enough to act on. In just four pages it packs relevant news, information and insights, with a primary focus on sheet, rod, tube and film, plastic semi finished shapes, plastic basic shapes, semi-finished plastics, plastic sheet rod tube and film. The newsletter covers pricing trends, market moves, new and upcoming products and services in the plastics industry.



Return to IAPD News home