Amorphous Polyethylene Terephthalate (APET) sheets are witnessing a huge demand owing to the rise in the packaging requirements across various industries. These sheets are replacing the conventional packaging materials and creating lucrative opportunities for the new entrants and emerging players in the market.
What’s The Difference Between PET and APET?
APET and PET are the most versatile packaging material utilized in the industry. The difference between the two materials is that PET has a crystalline structure while APET has an amorphous structure. This makes APET sheets transparent while CEPTs are opaque. To produce APET sheets/films, the polyester does not go through the molding process while PET is cooled to mold into a particular shape. In the case of APET, innovation in its manufacturing methods can broaden its spectrum of applications. These sheets are usually used for thin-gauge packaging applications.
Characteristics of A-PET Sheets
APET sheets need to be treated well during the production process as overheating can make the product brittle. These sheets are usually transparent while they can be colored too. They provide impressive impact tolerance, stiffness, and has excellent resistance against liquids and solvents. APETS offer better clarity and cost less than PETs. Along with this, they have deep forming capabilities, gamma-ray sterilization resistance, and are toxic-free.
It has sound resistance to cracking while it can be easily thermoformed which eliminates the option of drying. APET sheets are suitable for the temperature range between -40°C and 70°C. They have high flexural modulus and have higher warm diffusivity if contrasted with polyvinylchloride (PVC). Moreover, they’re odor-free and are environmentally friendly which makes it a popular option in the packaging industry.
Based on the range of thickness, the APET sheets are available in various thicknesses such as less than 0.2mm, 0.2-1mm, 1- 2mm, and more than 2mm. The thickness of the sheets depends on the oxygen transmission rate which means that the thinnest sheet has the highest oxygen transmission while vice-versa goes for the thickest sheet. According to Growth Market Reports, the 1-2 mm and <.02mm product segment accounted for a significant market share in 2019 and is expected to witness an increase in the demand during the forecast period.
4 Factors That’s Driving The APET Sheet Market
As per the detailed report published by Growth Market Reports, the global APET market size was around 4.9 Billion in 2019 and is expected to surpass 8.4 Billion by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of at least 7% during the forecast period 2020-2027.
1. Rising demand for medical packaging applications
In the medical industry, it’s crucial to pack the products in an unadulterated way. This has created a huge demand for the APET sheets as they can be sterilized by ETO and gamma radiation for medical packaging as polystyrene (PS) can’t be done easily.
APET sheets are used to package blister tablets, capsules, and other medical equipment. Their excellent mechanical properties and thermoforming characteristics make them a favored material for the packaging. The increasing number of medical devices and drugs is expected to surge the demand for APET sheets in the health and wellness industry. For instance, the rising number of geriatric population and increasing incidence of chronic diseases has propelled the demand for drugs which is driving the demand for APET sheets. The medical packaging segment is expected to expand at a high CAGR in the forecast period.
2. Surge in Food Packaging
The rising disposable income and change in consumer lifestyles have escalated the demand for ready to eat food items. Moreover, the surging demand for these items in the emerging economies has propelled the growth of the APET sheet market.
APET sheets have good barrier properties which makes it feasible for food packaging applications. Along with this, it has high strength, visibility, and flexibility to package the food and beverage items without affecting the quality. Amidst the coronavirus crisis, the hotels and restaurants are working at their lowest occupancy rate. This has increased the food deliveries which has surged the demand for cost-effective and prominent food packaging materials.
3. The Era of E-commerce Has Propelled Sales of Consumer Goods
Consumers’ rising inclination towards online shopping has escalated the demand for APET sheets in the market. The increasing number of e-commerce platforms has augmented the sale of consumer goods.
As per the data from Adobe Analytics, in the first eight months of 2020, online sales generated USD 497 Billion in sales (in the U.S.) which is an increase of 42% as compared to last year.
The packaging of consumer goods should be strong enough to not damage the product. Moreover, consumer goods packaging should also be enticing enough to attract customers. APET sheets just not only provide high strength characteristics but also have a glossary and shimmering look. The rising number of consumer goods and increasing purchasing power is speculated to spur the growth of the APET sheet market. In 2019, the consumer packaging segment accounted for almost 50% of the market share.
4. Innovation in APET sheets
Even though APET sheets provide exceptional characteristics, they are getting revamped to improve their properties for specific applications. For instance, they are conferred with anti-block properties to improve the UV resistance, coated with PVC to enhance the barrier properties, while their outer layers are extruded for specialized applications.
Various companies are focusing on utilizing the top-class manufacturing method and the product to gain a competitive edge against other industry players. They are ensuring that their product type is suitable for high-frequency sealing, vacuum forming, fold molding, and printing, among others. Their easy to peel features, single-serve portions, and portability has further revamped the APET sheet market.
3 Major Challenges Faced in the Industry
1. Volatile APET Price
The manufacturing of the APET sheets requires PET which is derived from oil feedstocks which almost accounts for more than 50% of the total costs. Meanwhile, the volatile crude oil prices in the market are expected to fluctuate the APET sheet price. This wholesome scenario makes it challenging for the manufacturers as it can affect their operating and profit margins.
2. Variation in environment regulations
The regulations in the packaging industry vary across the regions. This, in turn, makes it difficult for companies to adjust in accordance with environmental mandates and regulations. Currently, consumers are looking forward to eco-friendly raw materials while APET sheets are usually made from petroleum-based products. Even though they are recyclable to some extent, conventional APETs are not biodegradable.
3. Alternative to APET sheet
Most of the industries are striving to include sustainable packaging applications. Thus, companies are now focusing on the development of bio-based PET to make it sustainable. Industry players are focusing on the development of higher grade material which produces minimal damage to the environment. Moreover, manufacturers are turning to bioplastics and vegetable plastics to save the environment.
Impact of COVID-19 to APET Market
The coronavirus pandemic has created havoc across the globe. It had forced the manufacturing industry to come at a halt. However, the market is slowly recovering. Manufacturers are including technologies to make the overall system less dependent on humans. Besides this, the industries are seeking for local players to meet their packaging requirements.
Various state government bodies have created various campaigns and plan to support the local players. This is expected to create lucrative opportunities for the local players in the market. Moreover, the disruption in the supply chain has further persuaded various companies to partner with local players. The year 2020 has led the consumers to focus on the sustainability of the products; thereby, pushing the manufacturers of APET sheets to look for eco-friendly raw materials.
This pandemic has forced consumers to shop online. The increase in online shopping has surged the demand for packaging solutions, stimulating the growth of the APET sheet market. Nevertheless, the industry is expected to recover in the next 6-12 months and reach the pre-COVID growth pace.
Talking of the distribution channel, the online distribution is growing at a robust rate in the developed economies while gaining a pace in the emerging economies. This market is currently dominated by offline sales as it offers lucrative opportunities such as cross-selling and upselling the APET sheets.
6 Companies & Their Developments in the APET Sheet Market
The prominent players of the market are indulging in partnerships, mergers, and collaborations to expand their market share. Along with this, they’re focusing on product developments and manufacturing innovations to improve the quality and increase the profit margins respectively. Here below are few prominent players in the APET sheet market are:
• Plastisol BV
The Netherland-based company manufactures plastic films, APET, Polypropylene (PP), and Polyethylene (PE) in the roll form. According to the website, its production capacity is 15,000 tons. It has a wide range of products under APET film which is utilized in industrial and non-permanent solutions. The company adds additives to prevent the attraction of dust particles.
They have variants of APET such as WQ APET, which is more sustainable than APET PE. Moreover, Plastirol has PE APET which is food packaging of cheese, meat, and fish. This product confers excellent recyclability. The company that started with dealing with thermoplastics and plastic processing machines entered in APET film market after buying a new APET extruder. Plastisol claims that its product does not produce any toxic substances and its production residues are recycled.
• Octal (Chemlink Capital)
Octal is one of the leading PET manufacturers and suppliers in the market. It has expanded its portfolio in Asia Pacific, North America, Latin America, and Europe. The company made a USD 350 Million investment in the integrated PET resin and APET sheet manufacturing plant.
The company has various patented products under its name. For instance, its DPET™ is a sustainable alternative to the traditional APET sheet. Its unique DPET™ technology eliminates "five energy-intensive stages" of the PET manufacturing process. The company’s APET form DPET™ product is suitable for bakery and consumer packaging applications. Its products produce 28% less carbon footprint than conventional APET.
• PolyOne Corporation (Avient Corporation)
The US-based company supplies polymer materials and additional services. The company launched the Smartbatch™ Frost collection, a translucent color series for PET bottles. In September 2019, PolyOne announced the launch of ColorMatrix™ SmartHeat RHC for its recycled PET and PET bottles. Fast-forward in 2020, the company completed the deal of buying Clariant’s Masterbatches business for approximately USD 1.5 Billion. The new division is named Avient.
PolyOne has developed barrier technologies to improve the shelf-life of food & beverages. Moreover, they have introduced solutions through high-performance materials to reduce the use of plastic. Their parent company Avient Corporation reported a revenue of USD 2.9 Billion in 2019.
• Epsotech Group
In 2018, Vitasheet Group rebranded itself as Epsotech. The Europe based company is one of the leading producers of extruded plastic sheets. In pressing times, Epsotech has launched “Full Pure Protect Visor.” The company is engaged in providing solutions for medical, automotive, aerospace, railway, and sanitary, among others.
Epsotech has two subsidiaries named AxiPack and Carolex which produces 100% recyclable products for stationary and labeling applications. They claim themselves as Europe’s largest producer of engineered polymer sheets and agricultural monofilaments.
One of the leading players in the Middle East deals in several types of APET films and sheets. This includes RPET, APET/PE, and has also a wide range of metalized and thermos-laminated APET films for the food industry. In August 2020, RETAL implemented sustainable procurement practices across its supply chain and deployed CSR management following the ISO 26000 standard.
Besides APET films, it produces BOPET films, polyethylene heat shrink film, PET containers, and caps. Their films are suitable for medical, food, electronics, and other wide range of products. Along with the products, the company provides services such as auditing the packaging process and improving the production process.
• Far Eastern New Country Corporation (FENC)
FENC offers PET sheets for various applications including anti-blocking, anti-static, GAG high-frequency welding, and anti-fog, among others. Most of the company's clients are based in the Asia Pacific region. Along with this, it also deals in GPET, RPET, and Bio-PET products.
In June 2020, the company announced that it has developed a new PET chemical recycling process named TopGreen® Chemcycle. FENC also added that its new technology will be adopted by Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan Inc.
Other companies include Toray, Klöckner Pentaplast, Shinkong Synthetic Fibers, Folienwerk Wolfen, Jinfeng New Material, and K.P. Tech, among others. The coronavirus pandemic has led the companies to meet the growing demand for face visors. For instance, In July 2020, the Northern Ireland firm Brett Martin, known for its APET sheet, partnered with Denroy to produce over 60,000 visors using 0.5mm APET sheets.
Regional Market Outlook 2020
• North America
The market in the North American region is expected to grow at a steady rate during the forecast period. The rising disposable income and increasing demand for meat packaged foods in the U.S. and Canada are expected to spur the growth of the APET sheet market. Along with this, the increasing spend on health care and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases has surged the demand for medical packaging APET sheets in the market region.
• Asia Pacific
In 2019, Asia Pacific accounted for the largest market share and is anticipated to continue its dominance during the forecast period. The emerging economies such as India and China were the largest producer and consumers in the Asia Pacific region. Major APET sheet market players are from the Asia Pacific region. Besides this, the low production and labor costs have encouraged the foreign players to establish their production plants in these economies.
However, the coronavirus has changed the market landscape.
Currently, the foreign companies that used to import APET sheets from China have relocated their manufacturing facilities in other Asian countries. Meanwhile, the government initiatives to support the local players have created lucrative opportunities for the new entrants and emerging players in India and China. For instance, the Indian government created a campaign named “Vocal for Local” which encouraged consumers to support local businesses.
• Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America
The European market region accounted for significant market share owing to the growing demand for medical packaging sheets. However, the restriction on the usage of plastic has persuaded manufacturers to develop sustainable and eco-friendly APET sheets. In October 2019, PET Sheet Europe has committed to shoot the average recycled content of its products to 70% by 2025. This has persuaded manufacturers to work towards a circular economy model. Meanwhile, the increasing R&D investments have led the industries to replace APET sheets which have created challenges for the market.
The Middle East & Africa and Latin America are expected to grow at a steady rate during the forecast period. There are ample opportunities for new entrants in the Middle East as the source of the material can be easily get availed to them. Meanwhile, the Latin American region development phase is supporting the growth of the APET sheet market.
APET Market Outline
Manufacturers are focusing on sustainable solutions for packaging applications. Therefore, they’re partnering with the biotechnology companies to leverage their product in the competitive market. Industry players are just not focusing on the production of APET sheets but are also manufacturing other polymer products to expand their market share.