As ever-more stringent fuel economy standards and rising electric vehicle penetration curb oil demand growth further, the hydrocarbon industry has shifted its focus to plastics demand and petrochemicals as the main source for demand growth in the future. With a rapidly emerging middle class from Jakarta to Lagos, from Mumbai to Sao Paulo, living standards are rising as well as the per capita consumption of plastics.
At the same time, we anticipate strong growth for polymers as light-weight, low-cost carbon-based materials are expected to underpin the energy transition, while COVID-19 has seen renewed vigour in demand for plastic packaging for hygiene purposes as well as PPE (personal protective equipment) for the fight against COVID.
However, the winds of change are not just limited to global fuel demand and greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Energy Transition. The environmental policy machine in certain countries is now focusing on a much broader strategy of reducing carbon waste in materials as well as fuels. The EU has led the charge, but regulation has followed in China and many other parts of the world.
Considering more stringent policies around recycling and adoption of new technologies and feedstocks, will this translate into slowing well-head feedstock demand growth? In our view, it will depend on a variety of factors including resin types, recycling industry economics, the pace of change for individual and corporate trends and most importantly, government policies. In this report we map out the future paths, business models and opportunities for feedstocks over the next 30 years.