India should make most of HDPE to remain relevant

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

One product which is seeing a steady growth in demand in India is high-density polyethylene, usually referred to as HDPE. The launch of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana in 2015 for getting “more crop per drop” has pushed up the demand for high-quality water supply pipes. The Indian Railways said this is one of the reasons for increased demand.

In addition, in general, there is a good demand for higher quality pipes for industrial and domestic usage. Be it containers, wires, or cable insulation, and there is a demand for durable pipes. As Indians are getting exposure to better quality products in all sectors, the demand for even high standards of pipes for daily usage is also going up.

According to a market survey, the demand for the HDPE market was 2.57 million tonnes in 2021 and is projected to touch 4.43 million tonnes by 2030. According to a report published by Allied Market Research, the Indian HDPE pipe market for Fibre to the X (referring to all types of fibre infrastructure, including fibre optic cable), the anticipated revenue is $233.5 million by 2026. The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.2% from 2019 to 2026.

The demand exceeded the projection as these particular high-density polyethylene pipes are much needed in agriculture. They could be for water supply to the fields and drainage, mainly because they are non-corrosive. People prefer using HDPE used buckets, containers, cable cases, wires, packaging, blow moulding for manufacturing plastic bottles, liquid holding jugs, shampoo bottles, vegetable cutting and packing boards, among others. Even HDPE sheets, marine boards and rods are on the market.

The basic question is, how does HDPE differ from polyethelene or high-quality plastic? HDPE is a synthetic thermoplastic polymer made from petroleum hydrocarbons. It is considered the most versatile plastic material. It melts at only a very high temperature. It can be sterilised by boiling and thus is in demand by the food and beverage sectors. The material is resistant to water, solvents, acids, chemicals, detergents, cleaning acids and fluids. The strong intermolecular forces and tensile strength are the plus points. It can be easily recycled too. When it is lighter in weight compared to many other materials, it is the first choice for industrial use.

India is seeing huge growth and investment in telecommunications, energy, oil & gas, infrastructure, and building construction. This would naturally lead to more demand for HDPE pipes. However, the increasing cost of raw materials used for manufacturing HDPE poses a challenge to the growth.

There is already major investment by select industries to manufacture varieties of HDPE pipes. Their focus is more on the telecommunication sector as it is constantly growing despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the growth of India’s blow-moulded plastic market, the demand for versatile HDPE also grows. The Indian government is supporting the recycling of plastic and bioplastics. As long as HDPE suits the requirements of this growing industry, the demand will only grow.

Another industry that in recent years has become plastic material-friendly is aerospace. The demand for aircraft lighter in weight is up. Metal usage is making way for very high-quality plastic materials in aircraft. While the automotive industry has been making the most of plastic, mainly HDPE, for manufacturing vehicles, the aerospace field has also begun to make the most of it.

This is the era of startups in India. Those entrepreneurs who invent and innovate in the manufacturing field using eco-friendly HDPE will have a long shelf life.


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