The Plastic Resin Industry of Pakistan
The plastic resin industry produces resins which are further treated in plastics processing facilities and sold largely to the building and construction, packaging and consumer markets. Plastic resins are generally categorized into two types: thermoplastics and thermosets. Globally, thermoplastic resins dominate plastic resin sales and production.
Pakistan possesses a narrow petrochemical base producing limited number of polymers including Polystyrene (PS), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and Urea/Melamine Formaldehyde. An attempt to set up the first PVC plant in Pakistan was made by the Federal Chemicals and Ceramics Corporation Limited (FCCCL) when it planned to set up a 20,000 tons per annum capacity plant in Kala Shah Kaku way back in 1994. This plant, unfortunately, did not come online. Later in 1999, Engro Chemicals through a joint venture with Japanese company set up the first PVC plant in Pakistan.
At present, no facilities for the production of two basic polymers polyethylene and polypropylene exist in the country with the result that these two constitute the bulk of Pakistan plastic resins imports. Import of PE and PP during 2009 stood at 0.424 tons valuing USD 700 million constituting 76 per cent of total plastics raw material imports. Pakistan annual consumption of plastic resins is over one million tons and demand may further grow on the back of new developments in plastic technologies and a rapidly expanding market for plastics due to its wider use and application in the building and construction, transportation, packaging, electrical and electronics, furniture and furnishings and household appliances industries.
Plastics raw material production in Pakistan is at low scale and does not meet the required demand. Presently, the total combined annual production capacity of four leading plastic resins producers stands at a little over 0.5 million tons while Pakistan total imports of all plastics raw material, as per Trade Map data, reached 0.525 million tons valuing USD 913 million in 2009. Pakistan was meeting its entire plastics raw material needs through imports till 1994. Pakistan has now started exporting PVC, PET resin and Polystyrene on a limited scale to Turkey, UAE, Italy, South Africa and Iran. Total exports of these three polymers stood at USD 176 million. Table below depicts leading plastic resins manufacturers covering their products and production capacities:
Below is brief description of plastic resins being manufactured in Pakistan, major producers and potential for growth in each segment:
PET Resin (Polyethylene Terephthalate) The only producer of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET bottle grade resin) is Novatex, a sister concern of Gatron Industries. Gatron was established in 1984 as a producer of texturized and flat polyester filament yarn. The company diversified into PET bottle grade resin to cater to the increasing demand of the bottling industry. The company, with an annual production capacity of 235,000 tons of PET Resin (bottle grade), is not only meeting country’s demand but has also entered into export market. Gatron has its Polymerization Plant and Technology from Zimmer AG, Germany while the Solid State Poly-condensation Plant and Technology has been acquired from Sinco Engineering, Italy. Presently there is a huge potential for growth as demand is increasing due to high consumer usage in Pakistan.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Engro Polymer & Chemicals Limited, a subsidiary of Engro Corporation, is the only producer of PVC in Pakistan. The plant has annual production capacity of 150,000 metric tons. The company now has an integrated PVC facility after expansion and backward integration in 2009 for the manufacture of Ethylene Di Chloride (EDC), Chlor-alkali and Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM). The company was able to export 10,000 tons of PVC in 2009. At present only traditional PVC items are being manufactured i.e. pipes and fittings, shoes, cables, water conservation and compounding etc. With increased application of PVC in other products, there is good potential for growth in PVC consumption.
Polystyrene (PS) Pak Petrochemicals Industries is the only producer of polystyrene in Pakistan. The company was established in 1994. Pak Petrochemicals annual production capacity is 90,000 tons producing GPPS and HIPS. About 60% of this is domestically consumed while the rest is exported to Germany, South Africa, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. Due to increased demand, the Company plans to start local production of ABS in the near future. The company is planning to increase its polystyrene capacity by 40% initially and subsequently by 100%.
Methanol Urea (Melamine) Dynea Pakistan Limited produces urea resin for use in industries like particleboard, chipboard, veneer board and melamine resin for lamination industry. Together with its wholly owned subsidiary, Visionite (Pvt.) Limited, it is also Pakistan’s largest producer of molding compound used for manufacturing dinner sets and electrical accessories. Manufacturing of formaldehyde and amino-plast resins and of molding compound were both pioneering ventures introduced for the first time in Pakistan. Now only a small quantity of molding compound is imported into the country and there are no imports of formaldehyde or liquid resins.
Another important plastic resin is ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) which is currently not being produced in Pakistan. Demand of ABS is growing which has made setting up of a ABS manufacturing plant in Pakistan feasible. In addition the demand for PE and PP in Pakistan is also showing a rising trend thus making the production of both the polymers in Pakistan viable.