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Description | Overview | History | Polypropylene producing countries | Indian polypropylene market | Major trading centers

Polypropylene is lightweight thermoplastic polymer that provides raw material for manufacturing various textiles, containers, equipments, and components and is used in various industrial applications also. In other words, it is a kind of thermoplastic resin that is hard and tough and also can be converted into fibers and moulded articles. Polypropylene is made from the polymerization of pure propylene gas at low temperature and pressure. This polymer is known for its unique features such as anti rusting, good insulator, low density, highly crystalline, high resistance to fatigue and a high melting point. It is also known as a saturated polymer.


Polypropylene is a type of plastic polymer that is mainly used in packaging and moulded articles. The polymer was discovered much after polyethylene but even though; it gained much importance and rose up to the level in context of popularity. Since it has been discovered, uptill now, it has made its mark into the daily routine activities of the masses. The advantage of crystalline texture possessed by polypropylene over the dull texture of polyethylene and also polypropylene being cheaper than the latter was enough to earn fame as soon as it came into existence. The major uses in which polypropylene is required are flexible packaging, rigid packaging, automotive parts, consumer products, fiber products and other industrial applications.

Polypropylene is produced by polymerizing propylene gas or propylene monomers in the presence of a catalyst. In the year 2004, United States of America is the largest producer of the polymer with a total production of around 8.4 million metric tons. The major companies indulged in the production include Exxon Mobil and Shell. Consumption of polypropylene is dominated by Asian continent with a share of around 40% in the total consumption figures of around 32.9 billions tons. Country – wise, United States of America stands at top in the list of major polypropylene consumer countries. The following is the list relating to the major plastic consuming countries of the world

  • United States of America
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Canada
  • Malaysia
  • Thailand
  • Indonesia
  • Vietnam
  • China
  • India
  • Pakistan

The world market is growing at an average of 3% per year. The world trade in polypropylene has a same pattern as in the case of polyethylene. The major exporters of this polymer lie in the Southern Asian and the Middle Eastern area and South Korea is one of the dominant players in the world market. The other exporters include USA and the countries in the western European region.


Polypropylene is a polymer of the modern world. It was discovered as late as in 1954 by professor Giulio Natta. Till this time polyethylene was already discovered and the catalysts that were used in the polyethylene industry were used by the professor to the propylene gas to produce polypropylene. The commercial production of polypropylene initiated in the year 1957 as it can also be produced at room temperature and low pressure. For his work, Natta along with Karl Ziegler, the discoverer of the catalysts, got the Nobel Prize in the year 1963. With its production, it was readily accepted by various industries as it is economical and possesses exclusive physical properties.

With time and the introduction of new technologies of production, improvements were done relating to the types of catalysts used and controlling the structure of the product. The world production of the polymer crossed the 14 million tons mark. Polypropylene is a versatile polymer as it can be used in a vast number of applications and today the polymer has become non – substitutable.

Polypropylene producing countries

Polypropylene is a polymer that is known in almost every country of the world for the vast number of uses it offers. The world production operation of polypropylene is undertaken by some of the biggest energy companies of the world. Due to the enormous and ever increasing demand of the polymer, high production standards are maintained throughout the world to keep up with the demand. The major international polypropylene manufacturing countries are listed below

  • Exxon Mobil

  • Honam Petrochemicals

  • Hyundai Petrochemicals

  • Shell

  • Samsung

  • Dow Chemicals

United States of America is the largest producer of polypropylene with the production figures of around 8.4 million metric tons pertaining to the year 2004. Japan and South Korea are the other two major producers of polypropylene lying in the Asian continent having production figures of 2908000 metric tons and 2930000 metric tons respectively. In the European continent, Germany, France and United Kingdom sum up to produce a mere 3.96 million tons, though the production trend is up. Taiwan is an important Asian producer indulging in propylene production up to an extent of around 1 million tons.

Production of polypropylene in India

India is not among the dominant producers of polypropylene in the world but is an upcoming player. The country is able to produce around 4500 thousand metric tons of plastic products annually from which around 3150 thousand metric tons is shared by polyethylene and polypropylene. In India too, like in the world scenario, the production operation is held by various private and public sector companies. Reliance is the most dominant player of all the other companies operating in the country. The major Indian companies indulged in the production of the polymer are

  • Reliance

  • Haldia Petrochemicals

  • Gas Authority of India Limited

  • GE Plastics India

  • IPCL


  • Karnataka Petrosynthese Limited

  • Supreme Industries

The Indian petrochemical industry is on a rise and a lot more integrated with new and more developed technology coming up in the country. The industry registered a growth rate of around 9.5% since the year 1999-2000. As a result, the dependency on imports to satisfy domestic consumption demand has reduced gradually over the years. Also, new uses of polypropylene are being discovered and to satisfy the increasing demand, more of the current capacity of production is being utilized.

Indian polypropylene market

Since polypropylene has made an impact into every aspect of life and work, India also is not far from being affected. The polymer has found its way into various industrial applications and has become an integral part of the economy as a whole. India has an installed polymer production capacity of around 4500 thousand metric tons per year. Polyethylene and polypropylene production accounts for around 70% of the total polymer production in India. The major producers of polypropylene in India are Reliance, Haldia Petrochemicals and Gas Authority of India. Regarding the consumption of polymers in the country, India stands at the 8th place with a mere 4 kg per capita consumption per year. The Indian plastic polymer consumption in 2003-04 stood at around 4.2 million tons. But, it is expected to take a jump from the eighth position to the third position in the major consuming countries’ list in the upcoming years if the rate of consumption continues.

The polymer industry in India is growing @ 12-15% annually. India was a net importer of plastic products some time ago but due to the high rate of development in this sector in the country, India has transformed into a net exporter. The country registered an export surplus of Rs 462 crore in plastic products in the year 2003, though 1995-96, India was importing plastic polymers worth a staggering Rs 1538 crore. The prices of polypropylene in the country are excessively fluctuating as they directly depend on the international demand and supply conditions.

Market Influencing Factors

  • Fluctuations in the crude oil and natural gas prices

  • Economic growth of the major polypropylene consuming countries like USA and China

  • Domestic industrial growth and development

  • Demand for consumption in the international market

  • Government policies and regulation

Major trading centers of polypropylene

Polypropylene is traded in the Indian commodity exchange namely Multi Commodity Exchange of India.

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