Rubber and plastics are two very different, important materials which are used a great deal in our everyday life, both in indoors and outdoors. The usage of the materials is increasing day by day and it has become an integral part in our surroundings. India, being the fourth largest producer of natural rubber in world, is considered to be one of the key players in the global rubber business. Rubber is a versatile product with multiple usages. It is grown in various countries worldwide and plays a crucial role in the Indian economy too. India is one of the leading rubber producers in the world.
The use of rubber is widespread, ranging from household to industrial products, entering the production stream at the intermediate stage or as final products. Tyre and tubes are the largest consumers of rubber. The remaining 44% is taken up by the general rubber goods sector, which includes all products, except tyres and tubes. Synthetic rubber is mainly used for the production of auto tyres and tubes, cycle tyres and tubes and footwear. Other applications for the synthetic variety are camel back, belts and hoses. The market segmentation includes Auto tyres and tubes 56%, Bicycle tyres and tubes 9%, Footwear 18%, Latex goods 8%, Belts and hoses 4%, Camelback 5%.
The rubber industry is expected to grow at over 8 per cent per annum this decade, as the per capita consumption of rubber is 0.8 kg against 14 kg in the developed world. There exists a huge scope for expansion causing import of machinery, technology and raw materials and export of rubber goods.
Plastics, the material of the new generation, have been catching up faster than was expected since the 1980s. With restrictions on the use of wood to conserve forests, its importance has grown phenomenally. Because of its light weight, ease in maintenance and natural sparkle, it is substituting not only wood but also metal and glass. The automobile industry, the white and brown goods and the packaging industries, all offer expanding prospects.
Plastic polymers are classified into thermoplastics and thermosettings. Thermoplastics include elastomers (unvulcanised), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS), polyurethane (PU) and other resins. Thermosettings include elastomers (vulcanized), polyethylene (crosslinked), phenolics, alkyds, polyesters. The product variation includes PVC 21%, HDPE 25%, LDPE 5%, PS 5%, PP 33%, LLDPE 8% and ABS 3%.
Major Players in this sector includes Reliance 32%, IPCL 22%, DCM Sriram 4%, Finolex 5%, Chemplast 3%, DCW 3%, etc.
The industry has expanded along with expansion of diverse applications, such as packaging, extrusions, blow mouldings and industrial mouldings for automobiles, telecommunications, and white goods. User segments are electrical appliances, domestic ware, leatherite, decorative laminates, fittings and fixtures, extrusions for construction industry, automobile components, machinery and equipment, water tanks, pipes and fittings, drink bottles, medical appliances, weather protection. The opportunities are also opening up with the expansion and sophistication of food processing, automobiles, entertainment electronics and appliances. Besides these, industry's contributions have been vital in areas of rural electrification, telecommunication, horticulture, medicare, apart from a perceptible change in living styles and standards.
Polymers have found uses in all spheres of life with demand for better materials, greater functional use, more economical packaging and versatile and durable all-weather products. The per capita consumption of polymers in India is around 5 kg. The average per capita global consumption of polymers is estimated to be about 17 kg. The plastic and polymer industry has been expanding at a rate of 11% a year. Presently the consumption/demand is estimated at around 5.5 million tonnes. The demand estimates for all polymers including engineering polymers is envisaged to increase from 1.8 million tonnes in 1995-96 to 7.5 million tonnes in 2006-07 and to 9.5 million tonnes in 2009-10. It is projected at close to 14 million tonnes in 2014-15. India is one of the fastest growing polymer market in the world, and is expected to become the world's third largest polymers market, after the US and China, within a decade. The significant domestic demand growth is expected from the user industries such as telecom, food and beverages, packaging, transportation and consumer durables, and from continued substitution of traditional materials like wood, metal, glass.