||Plastics films are the future of packaging
Over the last 50 years, the plastics industry has been one of the fastest growing in the world, first in the "triad", Western Europe, the US and Japan, and in the rest of the world, particularly Asia, in the last twenty years.
Out of a total consumption of plastics in the world estimated at 175 million tons in 2004, for polymers that take concrete shapes, films are a very large segment, about 42 million tons, dominated by commodity plastics, essentially PE and PP, together about 34 million tons.
In general, for most films, the main end-using industry is packaging. However, the other end-uses may be quite important for some films, like, magnetics, optics, telectronics for PET, consumer goods, medical for PVC, automobile and construction for PVB.
Packaging demand for films, present and future, is to continue being fueled by the already strong base, the fast developing "rest of the world", the growing preference for flexible packaging over rigid, with sachets, pouches, and stand-up flexible presentations, and the constant innovations and launching of new and clever materials and solutions. Films certainly are the most alive activity in the plastics industry.
The film industry structure also went through continuing changes over the last thirty years, and the trend accelerated in the last five years. This is true both for the raw material film production and for film conversion and multilayer films, although with different trends. As of 2004, it is roughly estimated that the largest flexible converted film suppliers in Europe/North America may cover about 50 % of the total converted films.
The strongest driving force for films is the growing preference for flexible over rigid packaging inasmuch as possible, a trend that may be just at its beginning.