Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a polymer plastic which is generally available in two forms, rigid and flexible. PVC is produced from vinyl chloride monomer by means of suspension, emulsion and bulk polymerization. It is amongst the most used polymers due to its low price and effectiveness compared to other plastic products. Major applications of the PVC market include insulation and sanitary pipes, fittings, wires, cables, sheets, films, and bottles which are further used in major end-use industries such as construction, electrical & electronics, and transportation. PVC is widely used in pipes and cables on account of its high resistivity to corrosion and workability. Global PVC market has witnessed significant gains in recent times due to increasing demand in rigid applications such as pipes, fittings, and tubes. Increasing infrastructure spending in emerging markets of Brazil, China and India is expected to drive the global PVC market over the next several years. In addition, growing demand for PVC in automobile and medical devices is further expected to boost its demand. Global polyvinyl chloride market has experienced a decline in demand due to the economic recession in 2009 that affected key industries such as construction, transportation and electrical & electronics. As a result of economic slowdown in 2009, the price of PVC experienced a drop in Asia, Europe and U.S. However, PVC prices are expected to increase due to rise in prices of feedstock, primarily natural gas over the next six years. Growing environmental concerns coupled with low rate of PVC degradation acts as major challenges for market participants. Nonetheless, PVC can be recycled up to 7 times and has a lifespan of about 140 years which could provide alternative opportunities to manufacturers of PVC.
Key applications for the polyvinyl chloride market include construction, consumer, packaging, electrical & electronics and transportation among others. PVC is used by car manufacturers for producing car interiors and for providing vinyl flooring. Construction is a key demand avenue for the PVC market, where it is widely used in the form of pipes, tubes, fittings, cables and wires. Construction emerged as the largest application segment and accounted for over 55% of the total market volume in 2013. Increase in construction spending in emerging markets has propelled the demand for rigid PVC in the form of pipes, fittings, and tubes. Construction was followed by consumer applications such as appliances, footwear and sportswear to emerge as the second largest application segment with 12.6% of the total market volume in 2013. PVC is being used widely in clothing and footwear due to its low cost and water resistance compared to leather and rubber. Electrical & electronics is expected to be the fastest growing application segment for polyvinyl chloride at an estimated CAGR of 5.4% from 2014 to 2020. Growth of electronics industry in South Korea, Taiwan and China is expected to drive the demand for PVC over the next six years.
Global PVC market volume share by application, 2013
Asia Pacific emerged as the largest regional PVC market and accounted for 58.1% of the total market volume in 2013. Increasing infrastructure spending coupled with competent prices in China and India is expected to boost the PVC market in this region. Europe was the second largest regional PVC market, in terms of consumption and accounted for 18.9% of total market volume in 2013. The European market is primarily driven by growing demand for polyvinyl chloride in Russia and Turkey. Middle East & Africa is expected to be the fastest growing regional polyvinyl chloride market, at an estimated CAGR of 5.9% from 2014 to 2020.
Some of the leading companies operating in the global PVC market include Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd., Formosa Plastics Group, Axiall Corporation, Mexichem S.A.B., BASF, Georgia Gulf Corp., Arkema S.A., LG Chem, ChemChina, Westlake Chemical Corp., OxyVinyls, Tianjiin Bohai Chemical, Ineos Chlorvinyls Ltd., Vinnolit GmBH & Co., Sinopec Group, Solvay S.A., KEM One and Xinjiang Zhongtai Chemical Co. Ltd.