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What's In Store For PE Film | Shell Polymers

Demand for PE from key sectors is driving growth in polyethylene film applications

By Shell Polymers on Apr 09, 2020

Due to massive shifts that are happening in our world, the global polyethylene market is changing dramatically. As part of our mission to provide converters with unrivaled customer experiences, Shell Polymers is committed to keeping a pulse on relevant industry trends and advancements. That way, we provide our customers with expert insights with current, credible market research.

Used in popular consumer products such as food packaging and trash bags, film and sheet manufacturing represents a significant portion of the global polyethylene consumption. Allied Market Research says the global polyethylene film market has a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6% and expects it to reach $90 million by 2023. This growth is due to the increased demand for hygienic and flexible food packaging materials, the trend for PE films to replace glass and metal, and concerns over the rising use of bioplastic materials.1

Upward Trends in PE Film

According to Townsend Solutions, statistics compiled by the American Chemistry Council suggest that in the USA and Canada, resin sales to the film market were up 4.2% compared to the previous year, with sales to the packaging and non-packaging sectors increasing by 1.6 and 8.6%.2

One application that is enjoying particularly high growth is stand-up pouches. These require less packaging material and occupy less space than cartons and boxes. According to Market Research Future, the global stand-up pouches market will stay at 7% CAGR to 2022.3

Until recently, five to seven layers satisfied most custom packaging requirements, but according to Transparency Market Research, this situation is changing. Food industry customers are asking for multilayer blown films with enhanced properties such as protection against sunlight, effective sealing, and preservation of flavor and aroma. This trend is likely to continue now that a long shelf-life is critical to homebound consumers who aren’t able to make regular trips to the grocery store.

"Allied Market Research says the global polyethylene film market has a compound annual growth rate of 3.6% and expects it to reach $90 million by 2023."

Consequently, 11-layer blown films are now being used increasingly and various research activities are aiming to make it effective and economic. However, Transparency Market Research warns that the manufacturing process complexity of multilayer blown films compared with that of monolayer blown films might constrain their use.4

Another sector polyethylene film could experience growth is in healthcare. PE films are ideally suited for the packaging of medical and pharmaceutical products because they can be sterilized, are highly stable, and puncture resistant. That means medical instruments can remain safe and hygienic from initial packaging to application. Polyethylene is also one of the materials that is used to make transfusion and infusion bags. As an increased number of patients seek medical care across the globe, these products are likely to be in high demand.

Downward Trends in PE Films

Smithers reports that in 2015 the second-largest Polyethylene Film market segment was plastic bags and sacks with total world sales reaching 19.7 million tons. However, in a 2016 report, this segment was forecasted to have the lowest growth rate over the next five years because of an ever-increasing environmental lobby regarding the use of self-service shopping bags.5

As a result, in 2018, Market Research Future noted that many industries have reduced their use of polyethylene as a result of various moves around the world to ban or tax plastic bags.6

Learn More About Polyethylene Film

Key Takeaways

  • The global stand-up pouches market will enjoy notable expansion with a CAGR of 7% to 2022.
  • Eleven-layer blown films are being used increasingly, especially for food packaging. 
  • Although moves to ban or limit polyethylene bags have had a limited impact on polyethylene demand, this trend is still gaining momentum worldwide.

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1 Polyethylene Films Market by Allied Market Research,
2 Plastic Market Monthly, US & Canada, LLDPE, October 31, 2019 by Townsend Solutions
3 Stand Up Pouches Market Research Report – Global Forecast to 2020, December 2019 by Market Research Future,
4 Multilayer Blown Films Market by Transparency Market Research
5 The Future of Global Plastic Films to 2021, September 2016 by Smithers, AND
6 Polyethylene Market Global Segmented by Type, Technology, End User and Region Forecast till 2025, December 2018 by Market Research Future, AND