Review 2020 Outlook 2021

Alongside our monthly Price Know-how publication, at the beginning of every year we provide an assessment of what has happened over the past year and what may happen in the year ahead, particularly in terms of the outlook for polymer prices. Due to the wide ranging scope of the content and broad appeal, Outlook & Review is also published in BP&R’s first edition of the year, to take advantage of industry circulation opportunities.

Reflections in lockdown

Mike Boswell, Managing Director of leading polymer distributor, Plastribution, provides an insight on a year like no other.

Stretching out: Plastribution launches new elastomers business

When the recent pandemic hit and turned business-as-usual upside down, thermoplastics distributor, Plastribution, used the time to work on a long-held plan to ‘stretch’ its portfolio – adding a complementary business in speciality elastomers. In the following article, BP&R finds out more about Elastribution, its aims and ambitions.

Celebrating 40 years of polymer supply excellence

For more than four decades Plastribution’s vision, ‘to be the UK’s preferred supplier of plastic raw materials’, has been consistent. We’ve has been able to manage expectations by maintaining a clear focus, implementing plans, recognising existing strengths and reinforcing them.

An interview with Dr Rotem Shemesh – Innovation & Sustainability

Dr Rotem Shemesh, R&D and Customer Service Manager at Carmel Olefins,
recently spent the day at the Plastribution offices providing technical training
to our sales teams.  While she was here, Commercial Director Katherine White,
took the opportunity to learn more about Rotem and her current activities at
Carmel Olefins.

Sterling & the impact on polymer pricing

There are numerous headlines in the newspapers at the moment around the misery the weak pound is causing for those holidaying abroad. The ‘hard Brexit’ rhetoric since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister has caused the pound to fall by 1.9% against the Euro and 2.4% against the Dollar since the day before he became PM. The Pound has now slipped to below 1.09 against the Euro, its lowest level for 2 years.

Life of an apprentice – Maya’s story

11 month’s ago, one of our latest recruits on the apprenticeship scheme – Maya, joined our team. Maya has kindly written a blog piece to share some of her experiences so far regarding her life at Plastribution.

Women in Plastics

Women in Plastics

‘Women in Plastics’ provide a platform for females in the plastics industry that are doing great work in every type of capacity. Recently, Plastribution Commercial Director Katherine White took part in an interview for their publication which they’ve kindly allowed us to share.

Brexit implications that may affect your business

Whilst the details of the Brexit divorce settlement and future trading relations are likely to become clearer over the coming weeks, it is important to consider a range of scenarios including ‘no deal’. At Plastribution we have spent some time looking at the implications to our own business and the likely effects for our customers in the case of a HARD BREXIT.

Exchange Rate


The comments made on Friday 3rd August by Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, that the risk of a no deal Brexit was ‘uncomfortably high’ had a significant impact on the currency markets. This was further compounded by an article written by Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary which set the likelihood of a hard Brexit at 60%.

An overview on Plastribution’s ‘Understanding the Polymer Supply Chain’ Conference 5-6 June 2018

Polymer Supply Chain

Plastribution’s recent Understanding the Polymer Supply Chain Conference took place on 5-6 June 2018. This was the 3rd ‘sharing of experience & expertise’ forum that has been held since 2015 and with 18 delegates attending, the largest gathering to-date. For the first time, the event was held in the idyllic surroundings of Coombe Abbey Hotel in the Warwickshire countryside; an ideal choice that provided splendid isolation (along with limited mobile phone reception – good for some) to enable full immersion into the complexities of the polymer supply chain.

PA66 – The Pressure Grows

PA66 market ‘overheating’ many users and specifiers may well be forced to ‘down spec’ applications wherever possible, with the major winners potentially being for example nylon 6 and/or higher performance PP grades. Whatever happens it continues to be a very interesting time for nylon 66.

A polymer sourcing insight

Last week I attended the Polymer Sourcing conference in Barcelona where many of the presentations focused on the capacity expansions in the US based on ethane feedstock from shale gas.

Should recent oil price hikes worry polymer users?

Oil prices have surged in recent weeks as the rhetoric from US President Donald Trump regarding Iran has intensified and the threat of sanctions increased. Iran is one of the largest global oil producing nation and, should sanctions be imposed on 12 May, global supplies would tighten dramatically.

Nylon 66 – market update

For polyamide 66 processors across Europe, the situation has now become critical. Extremely tight supply for base polymer and compounds will intensify further now that both Invista & Solvay have declared force majeure for the total European production capacity of Adiponitrile (ADN).

Price know-how – Outlook & Review 2017/18

Price Know How

In addition to our monthly Price know-how publication, which is now uploaded to our online library, the Hub (, we also provide an assessment of what has happened over the past year and what may happen in the year ahead, particularly in terms of trends and the outlook for UK polymer prices. This assessment is called ‘Outlook & Review’ – a report that is published at the beginning of each year.

Price know-how October 2017

Price Know How

The major driver of feedstock costs in September was mainly related to the aftermath of storms affecting the US Gulf Coast, and in particular the impact of storm ‘Harvey’ in the Texas region.

Interplas 2017 & confessions of an exhibition sceptic

I ate humble pie for my tea last night and I have to admit I found it very tasty. I have been very outspoken internally at Plastribution about my feelings about trade shows which has led to some healthy discussions when reviewing our marketing plan.

Price know-how September 2017

Price Know How

Factors including exchange rates, feedstock price increases, strong demand, poor availability and even storms in the US are pushing prices upward.

Let Plastribution make it work for you


As highlighted in out previous blog (, with the polymer market fluctuating in light of several key suppliers closing their orders books early in August, coupled with the weakening of Sterling against the Euro, the squeeze on UK processors is proving highly uncomfortable.

Interesting times for Sterling

As has already been evident for those of us who like to spend our summer holidays in Europe, we have seen further erosion in the price of sterling over the last few months.

Price know-how July

Price Know How

Will standard polymer prices continue to soften, or is there a risk of price increases later in the summer?

Price know-how June

Price Know How

Whilst the results of the UK General Election have impacted on exchange rates, relaxation in some polymer prices will bring relief to many plastics processors.

Price know-how May

Price Know How

Styrene monomer prices have plummeted and C2 and C3 prices have rolled over from April into May. In the case of Ethylene, this comes after a rollover in price from March to April. For styrene monomer, the change appears to be a correction following the dramatic events which started in December last year and acted as the driver to propel polystyrene, ABS and other styrenic-based polymers to historically high levels in record order.

Price know-how April

Price Know How

According to the trade body Petrochemicals Europe, an amazing 95% of manufactured goods are dependent upon the use of petrochemicals, of which plastics and polymers are a significant part. Whilst many are neither aware nor perhaps willing to accept such reliance, it appears the producers of these materials are, for the time-being at least, able to optimise the economics of this reliance.

Price know-how March

Price Know How

Tight Supply of Both Feedstocks and Polymers Continues to Fuel Price Inflation.

Price know-how February 2017

Price Know How

Is it likely that increasing benzene prices, that are already impacting styrenic polymer pricing, will stimulate rapid inflation for engineering polymers?

Reprocessed plastic – not so fantastic?

In the course of the past week two consumer ‘durable’ products have failed me. On both occasions a plastic component has failed prematurely. Whilst in each case the design of the component could have been improved, the more significant cause of the failure was the quality of the plastic used; which in both cases appears to be reprocessed.

Price know-how January 2017

Price Know How

A new year heralds higher oil prices and fresh calls for price increases, which are likely to be influenced by a recent fall in the value of the GBP following a strong rally at the end of 2016.

2016 – a year of BIG surprises!

Whilst every year contains a wide array of noteworthy events, typically the ramifications of these events are short-lived and the understanding of any consequences quickly comprehended.

Price know-how December

Price Know How

A confusing picture with oil prices increasing, GBP strengthening, C2 and C3 prices falling, and Styrene Monomer prices increasing significantly.

Carpe Discipulus – seize the student

Many of us are familiar with the term ‘Carpe Diem’, which in its literal translation means ‘seize the day’ and more broadly a mantra to embrace the opportunities that life presents us with.

Always there, always listening

Modern Communication

This strap line ‘always there, always listening’, comes from Plastribution’s brand movie, created almost 5 years ago. Many people, including on occasions my colleagues, would perhaps question the validity of such a bold statement and refer to the fact that our offices are not open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all year round; however, in the era of modern communication, including text email and mobile phones Plastribution is pretty much ‘always on standby’.

Why is the EU Plastics Industry concerned about BREXIT?

Naturally for the majority of UK citizens our perspective on BREXIT is about how the decision to leave the EU will impact us. It was not until I was preparing a presentation for a conference held during K 2016 that I became aware of the potential impact of the UK leaving the EU upon the remaining members of the EU and most specifically the potential implications for the plastics sector.

Price know-how November

Price Know How

Pressure continues to build on polymer pricing as feedstock prices firm and Sterling continues to weaken; but for now there is still the uncertainty factor to contend with.

Price know-how October 2016

Price Know How

What are the implications for UK plastic processors as the GBP continues to weaken with ‘BREXIT SHOCK #2,’ at the same time as oil firms and some feedstocks increase in price?

Plastics Industry Awards – Apprentice of the Year success!

Katherine White, Plastribution’s Commercial Director and Lucy’s line-manager added: “Lucy has worked extremely hard at both with her studies and within Plastribution. This recognition is very well deserved and we are very proud of what she has achieved.”

Walls have ears

The UK has long been recognised for its ability to originate and develop new ideas. It is also true, often due to commercial necessity, that many of those ideas go forward to be produced in lower cost economies around the world, where they are frequently replicated and produced for sale without consent and at a fraction of the cost of their true value.

MOL Group

Headquartered in Budapest – Hungary, MOL Group is the largest plastic raw material producer in central Europe and holds a leading position in this region.

Life continues beyond the BREXIT blues

It is now two months after the shock result of UK’s referendum on EU membership. Whilst in the lead up to the 23rd June vote there was a discernible atmosphere of trepidation in terms of ‘what if we actually BREXIT’ and a consequential impact on demand this effect was almost insignificant as the reality dawned on the 24th and thereafter all minds focused on the hitherto unimaginable BREXIT choice.

Flame Retardant Additives for Film

The Kafrit Group are a global leader in the production of high quality flame retardant masterbatches and have been partnered with Plastribution for many years. They have been suppliers to the polymer industry for over 40 years and have capacity for 80,000 metric tonnes per annum.

Price know-how August 2016

Price Know How

Whether BREXIT will be regarded as the reason or simply the trigger for an economic slow-down, or if indeed other factors are of influence, is unlikely to be known for some time.

A purge on costs

Since October 2011 Plastribution has been able to offer its customers purging agents from Aquapurge. We currently hold stock of their Barrel Blitz Universal (BBU) purging compound within our warehouse network; other Aquapurge products are available on request and with the relevant technical support.

Price know-how June 2016

Price Know How

French Strikes, UK EU Membership Referendum, Summer Shutdowns and a Less Robust Approach to Passing on Feedstock Costs, All Contribute to Market Uncertainty.

Price know-how May 2016

Price Know How

Whilst the moderate recovery in Crude Oil price has so far provided support for the requests of polyolefin and polystyrene producers to increase prices and in many cases ‘recover eroded margins’, there is now increasing evidence that more normal fundamentals are starting to apply to at least PP and PE pricing.

Social Media and the SME

A few months ago I was talking to the Chair of Leeds University Business School Advisory Board and we got on to the topic of #social media and how our business was exploiting this marketing channel. She went on to ask @polymerman to write a short blog on our experience of exploiting this important new channel of communication.

Value = Price + Service + Reliability

Having previously written a blog entitled ‘Choosing what we outsource’, it is implicit that in determining which companies provide those services that performance is an important criteria for selection.

The lonely road to success

Both as a business and personally, we tend to spend little time looking at what others in our industry do or even how distributors in other sectors operate. The activity of benchmarking not only pre-supposes that, a) competitors may be doing things better than you, but also, b) what they do will suit our business.

Dave Machin Memorial Walk

With the blessing of his family, we have organised a memorial walk to take place on 22 May in memory of our friend and colleague Dave Machin, who sadly passed away on 30 May last year.

Price know-how April

Recovering Oil Prices Drive up Feedstocks with the Inevitable Push for Polymer Price Increases. Reinforced by Further Weakness of the GBP.

Price know-how March 2016

Price Know How

Whilst Extraordinary Polyolefin Margins Start to Decline, BREXIT uncertainty Weakens the GBP and Brings Inflationary Pressures Across the Board.

More plastic than fish in the sea by 2050

According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (launched at the World Economic Forum in January), there will be more waste plastic in the sea than fish by 2050. Like most of us who read this headline, I was aghast.

Why is Supplier Relationship Management important?

When I started working in a commercial role in the Plastics Industry in the late 1980’s the relationship between customers and suppliers was often adversarial, with the general view that customers could browbeat suppliers into better commercial terms with a major emphasis on price and credit terms.

February Price know how

Price Know How

Weakness of the GBP Against the Euro Negates the Expected Price Reduction, and Are There Any Implications of a Bounce in Crude Oil Prices.

Choosing what we outsource

Prior to the 1980’s most companies did as much as they could for themselves and typically this included activities like transport and warehousing, on the basis that including these processes ensured control, retained profit and gave the best service. In fact Plastribution for a period of time until 1991 had its very own warehouse and even a delivery truck.

Sound insight from the UK’s leading polymer distributor

Alongside our monthly Price Know-how publication, at the beginning of every year we provide an assessment of what has happened over the past year and what may happen in the year ahead, particularly in terms of the outlook for polymer prices. We publish this insight here on our website, as well as via BP&R and in-part through PRW, thereby taking advantage of widespread industry circulation opportunities.

It’s PP – but not as we know it

Carmel Olefins released their ‘C’ grades about 2 year ago. They have successfully managed to combine the optical clarity of RCoPP together with the impact properties of PPCP at standard room and chill room temperatures. There are a number of grades available from stock and ready for you to sample. Call us on 01530 560560 to find out more.

Availability and Currency Continue to Influence Prices

Whilst the downward spiral of Crude Oil prices continues, and in spite of mainly less substantial feedstock cost reductions, prices for polyolefins and polystyrene continue to be robust. In the case of PE, the near 5% reduction in the value of the GBP vs Euro since the beginning of December entirely offsets the reduction in feedstock, and in the case of PP, significantly reduces the potential benefit of the more substantial €50 per tonne fall in January’s contract C3 price.

A crushing defeat…

Crush ribs, an inventive way to overcome design constraints or a cost cutting step too far?

Nice to meet you, I’m Joe

I have now been part of the technical team for about a month and feel I have settled well into the role here at Plastribution. Not that it has been difficult to settle in as the whole company has been very welcoming and the inductions have been quite thorough.

Mission, Vision, Values: Do businesses really need them?

A survey recently published in HR Magazine has revealed that for UK companies that have actually gone to the effort of defining their vision, mission and values, that on average only 42% of their employees are aware of their existence

rPET a clear alternative

As part of Plastribution’s commitment to sustainable and technical materials, we are working with Eco Plastics and can now offer the UK’s only food grade recycled PET (rPET) to plastics processors across the UK and Ireland.

To purge or not to purge…

It is a long time since I completed a colour change in a busy mould shop, but I can remember spending large amounts of time, and a lot of polypropylene, becoming increasing frustrated by the tiniest amount of red compound that just would not shift.

Customer service – make room, personality coming through!

Had the ominous task of phoning two call centres earlier this week. One a bank, the other a famous motoring organisation beginning and ending in ‘A’. We often dread these kind of tasks and, if like me, you will have to fight the urge to procrastinate. Imagine my surprise when the whole experience was really positive and whilst I would not go as far to say pleasurable, I left the phone feeling good about both organisations.

DuClear CE 85 B PPRCP

DuClear CE 85 E is a new and revolutionary grade of speciality clarified polypropylene random copolymer (PPRCP).

Which Market Fundamentals Are Now Driving Polymer Prices?

Following the market turnaround in February this year, the subsequent issues relating to polymer production in Western Europe and the weak Euro reducing attractiveness to imports, polyolefin and polystyrene prices became increasingly disconnected from feedstock costs.

Our latest apprentice

We are delighted to introduce our latest apprentice, Nicole, who joins Plastribution this month having just completed her ‘A’ levels.

Metallocene – it’s not all about downgauging!

Metallocene grades of polyethylene for film extrusion have been around for 20 years or so but there is still some resistance to their use based on the premium these materials typically attract and the focus on using them to reduce film thickness.

Continuity for Customer Service

Whether from the customer’s perspective the investment perceived is as active or passive, time and therefore cost is involved upon the part of the customer and this is often in contrast to the more obvious cost to supplier of having internal and external sales teams telephoning, emailing and visiting customers at their places of work.

Distributor of Substance versus Supplier of Straw – Part 3

In this case the customer was a critical supplier of medical equipment to the healthcare sector and was genuinely concerned that if they could not secure on-going supply of PE there was a real risk that hospital operating theatres may be closed and patients in ITU put at risk.

Chi Mei launch new high flow high impact ABS

Chi Mei

Chi Mei the world’s largest producer of ABS have recently launched a new grade of ABS PA757H. It demonstrates a 30% increase in MFR compared to standard PA757 and a 20% increase in impact strength.

Design for manufacture

This is why Plastribution believe that the design of a component is critical in making sure the products we are surrounded with are produced in the best possible way.

Distributor of Substance vs Supplier of Straw

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To The Moon And Back (Twice!)

[mk_page_section attachment=”scroll” bg_position=”left top” bg_repeat=”repeat” bg_stretch=”false” enable_3d=”false” speed_factor=”4″ bg_video=”no” video_mask=”false” video_opacity=”0.6″ top_shadow=”false” section_layout=”full” min_height=”100″ full_height=”false” padding_top=”0″ padding_bottom=”0″ margin_bottom=”0″ first_page=”true” last_page=”true” sidebar=”Blog”][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_image src=”” image_width=”1140″ image_height=”500″ crop=”false” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][mk_divider style=”padding_space” divider_width=”full_width” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”20″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″] To The Moon And Back (Twice!) Well I can hardly believe it, but this week I […]

Does size matter?

Before moving into the meat of this blog, I must start by saying that I have a very healthy respect for our competitors, many of whom I have become quite familiar with during my 5-year tenure as the Chairman of the BPF’s Polymer Distributors & Compounders Group, in addition to the 26 years that I have spent working in this sector with Plastribution.

Restriction on PE and PP availability in April

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Busy days for Plastribution’s technical team

Plastribution technical team

Established to offer a complete service package, providing extended technical guidance and advice to customers throughout the manufacturing process, Plastribution’s technical team has recently expanded to meet demand.

Ensuring you buy competitively

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A simple approach to customer service

It is with this in mind that our customer teams work on the basis that once they have received your request it is our responsibility to act on your requirement and, where necessary and appropriate, keeping you informed as to progress.