Guest Columnist

IAPD Welcomes Back Mel Ettenson’s Global Plastics News

IAPD is pleased to welcome Mel Ettenson back after a winter hiatus from his role as a guest columnist for 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 For a limited time, IAPD News readers are entitled to a 3-month free trial subscription. See the Global Plastics News website for details.

Overall, economies are moving at the fastest pace in 18 months with third quarter growth expected to be 2.5-3 percent. Manufacturing is expanding almost everywhere — automotive, metal fabrication, electrical equipment, appliances and, of course, tech are leading this bounce. A slowdown is lurking due mostly because of 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 the stock markets will also be prevalent in measuring economic growth. Get set for a dynamic, unpredictable 2013 business climate. Our industry will be in for this ride, which will be difficult to plan for.

Oil sand drilling, shale exploration for natural gas, solar panels and oil at below US$100 per barrel are all energy moves worth watching for their effect on our industry. More oil from Libya, Angola and the United States and less demand based on global recessions are contributing factors. Expect continuing wild swings in all markets, including financial, petroleum and polymers, into 2013. 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 the plastics processors that manufacture formaldehyde-based polymers such as acetal. Coming next year: Expect new display technology for smart phones and tablets supplanting today’s LCDs and OLEDs — they will be energy misers compared to existing technology which consumes much 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 single digits in the first quarter. Plan for this scenario to continue throughout 2013 but keep watchful about ETPs, which will be market-driven rather than supply-demand or input-cost driven.

EPSE (European PC Sheet Extruders) is establishing standards for building product applications. Amazon Supply continues its online presence but little impact has been felt by traditional distribution. MSC and Grainger are growing in industrial distribution but little plastics influence. SIMONA continues to struggle in Europe. Solar industry applications are disappointing, but stable in North America. Spartech and PolyOne continue to merge and transition sheet operations. 

As 2013 sounds our industry’s drumbeat and the second decade of the 21st century ramps up, it is noteworthy that many companies in our industry are now 50 years plus old since their founding. Super-imposed on this scenario is the fact that the companies that have not sustained their founding are counted on less that two hands ... could this be a “recession proof” industry?


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.



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