Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) is a linear polymer with various short branches, usually made by copolymerization of ethylene with long-chain olefins. It differs from the conventional LDPE (low density polyuethylene) owing to the absence of long chain branching. LLDPE is generally produced at low pressures and temperatures with the copolymerization of ethylene with alpha-olefins such as octene, hexene, and butene.
LLDPE is applied in the all the traditional applications for polyethylene such as sheets and plastic bags, covers, toys, flexible tubing and geomembranes. It is also used in extrusion coating applications where it protects the contents of liquid containers, usually for paper & paperboard packaging.
The global market for LLDPE is anticipated to witness stable growth in the years ahead, on account of increasing LLDPE capacity additions planned worldwide along with the constantly rising demand for the product. In addition, growing population compounded with increasing food demand has also contributed towards the growth of LLDPE market in food packaging.
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Much of the growth in LLDPE has been due to the replacement of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and is slowly overtaking LDPE in terms of market size to be the second largest polyethylene (PE) after high density polyethylene (HDPE).
While the expansion of LDPE markets appears to have accomplished in matured regions such as Western Europe, North America and Japan, the introduction of easy processing LLDPE is expected to result in further substitution of LDPE. Further penetration of LLDPE into LDPE applications is expected to continue in emerging economies such as China.
The industry for LLDPE has been gaining importance on account of its higher tensile strength, superior impact and puncture resistance than its substitute LDPE. Owing to this, manufacturers have started making thinner films while reducing costs and saving materials.
LLDPEs’ superior toughness property relative to other products has also widened its application scope. Most of the LLDPE on a global scale is consumed in different film applications such as food and non-food packaging, stretch/shrink film and non-packaging uses. Growth is also occurring from the transition of commodities packed in rigid containers to high quality flexible packages.
Growth in major end-user industries such as construction and packaging is expected to be one of the key factors driving the demand for LLDPE over the next few years. LLDPE is widely consumed in food packaging, flexible tubing, geomembranes, as well as covering of cables among others. However, growing environmental regulations regarding the use of plastics is expected to hamper the growth of the market. Increasing use of LLDPE in coatings and packaging for medical products is expected to provide new opportunities for the growth of the market.
North America was the largest consumer for LLDPE, followed by Asia Pacific. Economies such as Canada, Brazil, China and the U.S. are some of the top manufacturers for LLDPE in the world. Future market is expected to be from Asia Pacific owing to growing demand for food and rising industrial activities in the coating industry.
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Borealis, Braskem SA, Chevron Phillip Chemical Co., DuPont, ExxonMobil Chemical, INEOS Group, PetroChina, Nova Chemicals, and The Dow Chemical Company are some of the major manufacturers of LLDPE dominating the market.
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