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 manufacturer and distributor sectors. Growth in the fourth quarter is expected to be 3-4 percent. Manufacturing is growing slowly, based on new applications and metals replacement in the automotive, displays, electrical equipment, semiconductor and construction industries. However, the possibility of a slowdown is still lurking due mostly to continued uncertainty in U.S fiscal policy decisions. Business spending is predicted to continue climbing slowly based on cheaper capital today versus higher costs in the long term. Inflation in resin prices continues to be in check; higher inflation is inevitable, but when? Records are being set (is this another bubble?) in stock markets, which will also be important in measuring economic growth. Get set for a dynamic late 2013 - early 2014 business climate.

Continuing 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. Expect continuing 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), especially Iran. Growing supplies of natural gas should be 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 2014 is for a continuation of this trend, with some exceptions, which will raise prices single digits in the first quarter of 2014, especially in PE, PP, PVC and nylon. Be watchful about ETPs, which will be market-driven rather than supply-demand or input-cost driven.

Bayer MaterialScience LLC’s PC sheet and film (Makrolon and Makrofol) were used by acclaimed artist Danial Nord in a California exhibit, due to their LED light diffusion properties. Kydex LLC adds to its sales organization. IAPD adds several new members, indicating a bullish business barometer. World Plastics Council formed at K 2013, which should be a new force in cooperation across our industry via future cooperation within all segments. 

As 2013 ends, it is worth noting the role of IAPD is continuing 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 manufacturer and distributor sectors. Coming next year: Tablet computers and smart phones continue to replace laptops as sales engineers telecommute and interact with customers in a more mobile environment. Stay tuned for new technologies in 2014.


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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