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.


Overall, economies are moving at the fastest pace in 18 months with Q4 growth expected to be 2.5 to 3 percent. Manufacturing is expanding almost everywhere — automotive, metal fabrication, electrical equipment, appliances and high-tech are leading this bounce. A slowdown, however, is lurking due mostly to the Euro zone debt crisis. However, business spending will continue upward despite some reluctance for banks to finance. Swings such as we have seen in stock markets will also be prevalent in measuring economic growth. Get set for a dynamic, unpredictable 2012 business climate. Our industry will be in for this ride and it's difficult to plan for.

Russia will probably be admitted as a member of the World Trade Organization…after an 18-year wait.


Oil sand drilling; shale exploration for natural gas; solar panel development and oil below $100 per barrel are all energy moves worth watching. More oil from Libya, Angola and the U.S. and less demand based on global recessions are contributory. Expect continuing wild swings in all markets including financial, as well as petroleum and polymers, into 2012. This pre-supposes no disruption of supply caused by political unrest in the Middle East.

Growing supplies of natural gas auger good news for industrial users, especially those plastics processors that manufacture formaldehyde-based polymers such as acetal. 

Coming next year: New display technology for smart phones and tablets supplanting today’s LCD’s and OLED’s. They will be energy misers compared to existing technology which consumes more power while processing data above and below the cloud.


Most resin and therefore shapes prices backed down last month and the outlook is for a continuation of this trend, with some selective exceptions, which will raise prices by single digits in 1Q 2012. Plan for this scenario to continue throughout 2012, but be watchful of ETPs, which will be market-driven rather than supply-demand or input-cost driven.


Formica Group, a unit of Fletcher in New Zealand, plans a new laminate plant in China to be operational in 2013. This will be its second facility and part of a global plastics group that includes pipe distributor and manufacturer Crane Group Ltd. They intend to be a major supplier to Australasia.

SABIC IP unveils two new Lexan PC films, co-extruded for use in secure ID cards helping to guard ID theft and counterfeiting. It also introduces solar shading panels based on its Lexan Exell D PC sheet, balancing light transmission and heat reduction – another marketing initiative from SABIC.


As 2011 comes to a close and the second decade of the 21st century ramps up, it is noteworthy that some of the oldest companies representing distribution in our industry are at least 65 years young (Aetna Plastics). We are researching the population and expect we may discover 90-100 year old companies and will be reporting on these as IAPD supports an industry history initiative.


About Mel Ettenson
During his 40-plus years in the plastics business, Ettenson always wondered why there wasn't a single, concise, reliable source of information about our industry. 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.



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