June 22-BASF is planning major further investment in plastics as it expects global demandto grow at around 5% per year until 2015 due to "megatrends" like urbanisation,globalisation, growing energy demand and climate protection measures, it said on Tuesday.
These trends are all associated with industries such as energy, energy efficiency,construction and housing in which plastics are playing an increasing role, the Germanchemicals major said.
"Plastics are nowadays indispensable when it comes to finding solutions to the major issuesof the future. And this means new business opportunities for BASF," said MartinBrudermuller, member of the company board responsible for plastics and Asia Pacific.
The fastest growth was expected in Asia, where the consumption of plastics has been higherthan that of Europe and North America combined since 2007, BASF said.
Hence BASF would focus on Asia when investing in new plants and research and developmentfacilities in the coming decades, Brudermuller said, speaking at a company conference thatis a precursor to the K plastics trade fair in October.
To meet growing demand for specialty plastics, BASF was also expanding biodegradableplastics capacity at its Ludwigshafen site and building a polyurethane plant in Shanghai,it said.
Plastic helps cut CO2 emissions, not only through applications such as building insulation,but also because less energy is needed for its manufacturing and processing than for othermaterials, Brudermuller said.
When used in the manufacturing of car components, plastics also reduce the weight ofvehicles, thereby helping to cut fossil fuel consumption further, he added.
The percentage of plastics in an average car in western Europe had risen from 6% in 1970 toabout 15% today - and could rise to more than 25% by 2020, according to Brudermuller.
In China the proportion of plastic used in the manufacturing of cars is still only abouthalf of that in Europe and the use of high-grade engineering plastics is much lower, hepointed out.
“There is obviously a great potential in China for plastics manufacturers such as BASF,although Europe still offers many opportunities,” said Brudermuller.