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 holding steady in terms of growth, with revenues in our industry showing single digit growth, year over year, across both manufacturer and distributor sectors with Q4 growth expected to be 2 %. Manufacturing is holding steady, with stubborn growth, almost everywhere including automotive; metal fabrication; electrical equipment, semi conductors, construction and appliances. A slowdown however is still lurking due mostly to continued uncertainty in the Euro zone, as well as the U.S fiscal policy decisions. However, business spending will continue slowly upward despite some reluctance for banks to finance. Inflation in resin prices continue to be in check. Swings like we have seen in stock markets will also be prevalent in measuring economic growth. Get set for a dynamic, unpredictable late 2012 and early 2013 business climate. Our industry will be in for a rollercoaster ride.

Continuing shale exploration for natural gas; solar panels and oil at below $100 per barrel are all energy moves worth watching for their effect on our industry. Expect continuing swings in all markets including financial as well as petroleum and polymers into 2013. This pre-supposes no disruption of supply caused by political unrest in the Middle East (fortunately Syria is not oil relevant), especially Iran. Growing supplies of natural gas auger is good news for industrial users, especially those plastics processors that manufacture formaldehyde-based polymers such as acetal. 

Most resin and therefore shapes prices have drifted lower, but some commodities turned upward slightly last month. The outlook for the first half of 2013 is for a continuation of this trend, with some selective exceptions, which will raise prices by single digits in 1Q 2013, especially in PE, PP, PVC and nylon. Be watchful about ETPs, which will be market driven rather than supply-demand or input-cost driven.

Breaking news: PMMA sheet prices have been raised in Europe by Lucite International with N.A. probably following.

The impact (no pun intended) of the PolyOne buyout of Spartech is still being played out. The largest TP sheet extruder (by pound output) struggled to go it alone over the last several years. They are now teamed up with a resin compounder manufacturer and resin distributor, which offers some vertical integration as well as a new supply chain presence. 

As 2012 ends, it is worth noting the role of IAPD in joining with the PPFA to further enhance and advance the global plastics shapes industry. We are still a ”recession proof” industry, as we tally the survival rate during the 2007-2010 great recession across both manufacturer and distributor sectors.

Coming next year: 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. Stay tuned for new technologies in 2013.

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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