As ever-more stringent fuel economy standards and rising electric vehicle penetration further curb global oil demand growth, the hydrocarbons industry has shifted its focus to plastics demand and petrochemicals as the main source of future demand growth . With a rapidly emerging middle class from Jakarta to Lagos and from Mumbai to Sao Paulo, living standards are rising in many parts of the world, with an accompanying increase in per capita plastics’ consumption.
At the same time, we anticipate strong growth for polymers as lightweight, low-cost carbon-based materials are used to underpin the energy transition, while COVID-19 has resulted in renewed demand for plastic packaging for hygiene purposes as well as PPE (personal protective equipment) for the fight against the virus.
However, the energy transition winds of change are not just limited to global fuel demand and greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental policy in some countries is now focusing on a much broader strategy of reducing carbon waste in materials as well as from fuels. An entirely circular supply chain is the supposed promised land of tomorrow, but we are far from there today.
Will more stringent policies around recycling and the adoption of new technologies and feedstocks translate into slowing virgin feedstock demand growth? In our view, this will depend on a variety of factors, including resin types, recycling industry economics, the pace of change for both individual and collective corporate trends and -- most importantly -- government policies underpinning these changes. In this report we map out the future paths, business models and opportunities for feedstocks over the next 30 years.