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How China's polycarbonate industry can achieve sustainable and healthy development

Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic engineering plastic with excellent comprehensive properties and has a wide range of applications in many fields. China's growing demand for polycarbonate has driven the rapid development of the polycarbonate industry. China has grown into the world's largest polycarbonate producer and consumer.

 

• China is the world's largest producer and consumer of polycarbonate. By the end of 2018, it had completed production capacity of 1.66 million tons per year, with an output of approximately 680,000 tons, apparent consumption of 1.84 million tons, and an external dependency of over 60%;

• China's polycarbonate industry is ushering in a wave of capacity expansion. It is estimated that by 2023, the production capacity will reach about 3.6 million tons per year, and the demand will reach about 2.55 million tons. By then, the Chinese polycarbonate industry will actually have excess capacity;


According to statistics from Asiachem Consulting, as of the end of 2018, China has completed 1.16 million tons of polycarbonate production capacity per year, distributed in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Shandong and Beijing, accounting for more than 20% of the global polycarbonate production capacity. Major manufacturers include Zhejiang Jiaxing Teijin Polycarbonate Co., Ltd. (150,000 tons / year), Shanghai Costron Polymer (China) Co., Ltd. (400,000 tons / year), Sinopec Mitsubishi Chemical Polycarbonate (Beijing) Co., Ltd. (60,000 tons / year), Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Engineering Plastics (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (80,000 tons / year), Ningbo Zhetie Dafeng Chemical Co., Ltd. (100,000 tons / year), Liaocheng Luxi Polycarbonate Co., Ltd. 200,000 tons / year), Wanhua Chemical Group Co., Ltd. (70,000 tons / year), Lihua Yiweiyuan Chemical Co., Ltd. (100,000 tons / year).

 

China is one of the most important polycarbonate consumer markets in the world. The average annual growth rate of China ’s apparent consumption of polycarbonate from 2005 to 2018 was 8.7%, reaching 1.84 million tons in 2018. From the perspective of supply, China ’s polycarbonate output increased by about 28 times from 2005 to 2018, and its output in 2018 was about 680,000 tons. However, China ’s polycarbonate supply and demand gap is huge, and its dependence on foreign countries has remained high. Net imports have exceeded one million tons for many years. China imported approximately 1.4 million tons of polycarbonate in 2018, with an external dependence of over 60%.


From the perspective of the process route, various polycarbonate production technologies including interfacial polycondensation phosgene, melt transesterification, and non-phosgene melt transesterification have application cases. It is particularly noteworthy that as a high-end petrochemical product with high added value and high technology threshold, breakthroughs in polycarbonate technology with independent intellectual property rights represented by Wanhua Chemical, Huatianhua Zhonglan Guosu, etc. have become China's poly An important boost for the development of the carbonate industry.


Driven by huge market demand, high added value of products, and domestic and foreign capital technology, the planned, new or expanded polycarbonate projects are intensively launched in China. The next few years will be the concentrated release period of China's polycarbonate production capacity. The statistics of Asiachem Consulting show that China currently has nearly 20 polycarbonate projects under construction, with a total capacity of more than 4.6 million tons per year; conservatively expected that China will release 2.41 million tons of polycarbonate production capacity by 2023. By then, China's total polycarbonate production capacity will be nearly 3.6 million tons per year.

 

In the next few years, China's polycarbonate supply and demand market will undergo significant changes. It is optimistic that China will still be the most important engine for the growth of global polycarbonate demand. With an average annual growth rate of 6.7%, China's demand is expected to reach about 2.55 million tons in 2023; and China's polycarbonate production will follow Release and rapid growth, it is expected that China's polycarbonate output will reach about 2.44 million tons in 2023. Judging from the data, China's polycarbonate is basically in a state of supply and demand balance by 2023. In fact, China's current imports of more than 1 million tons of polycarbonate products are not simple substitutes. It is optimistic that high-end products cannot be substituted. The import volume may be as high as about 500,000 tons, which means that China's polycarbonate industry will actually have excess capacity.

 

Under the boom of China's polycarbonate capacity expansion, how to realize the sustainable development of the industry in the future has become the focus of attention in the industry. On the one hand, the market share of polycarbonate in traditional downstream applications is facing the pressure of competition from other engineering plastics and new materials, and it is urgent to find and expand emerging application markets to ensure stable demand growth. On the other hand, with the rapid expansion of China ’s polycarbonate production capacity, the low-end and general-purpose materials market may face pressure from overcapacity and fierce competition.Polycarbonate sheet manufacturers need to set their sights on emerging overseas markets, develop and deploy overseas markets, and participate in international competition.


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