Graph showing the growing popularity of PP for sheet production
The European sheet market is expected to see an increase of one percent over the next five years, according to recently published findings.
According to AMI's ‘Directory of Sheet Extruders in Europe’ for 2016, some sheet manufacturing markets are struggling, however, the growth is being driven by Germany – the largest market – as well as Poland, whose sheet market was up nearly four percent in 2015. This is partly due to its increasing role as a regional centre for food processing and packaging, as well as a recovery in its building industry.
In terms of materials, the growing use of polypropylene (PP), in both Germany and the UK is taking away market share from more traditional polymers for sheet production, such as polystyrene.
Traditionally polystyrene is the most used polymer, accounting for 1.2 million tonnes in 2015, or 31 percent of the total market. However, its market share has been steadily eroded due to competitive pressures from PP and PET in the thermoformed packaging sector, finds the report, offering improved transparency (in the case of PET) and better barrier properties (PP), as well as better supply options, greater resin developments and less pricing volatility.
The popularity of PP in the growing German market is another significant reason for its increased use as well as the fact it can give a lighter pot where barrier properties are required thus attracting lower levies in line with the DSD (Der Grune Punkt) packaging regulation. In the UK it is an important material for the production of trays and cups.