Home » Latest News & Blog » Industry News: What’s Behind the Shortage of HDPE Products

Industry News: What’s Behind the Shortage of HDPE Products

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far reaching impacts around the globe. Aside from all the health and safety implications, the economic effects are still evolving in many industries. One of the most notable economic challenges to arise in the past year is a completely disrupted supply chain across sectors. 

Photo of HDPE products industry news

The plastics industry is not immune to these challenges. Supply chain issues and material shortages have made it difficult for companies and end users to receive certain resins. So adjustments may be necessary to meet the needs of certain projects. 

Specifically, HDPE products are experiencing a major shortage in the U.S. currently. This type of plastic offers tons of benefits for various applications, from beverage containers to piping. So there’s certainly plenty of demand for the material. But shortages in the chemicals used to produce it, along with supply chain disruptions and staffing issues have made the material difficult to obtain. 

Users of HDPE products may need to exercise patience in the coming months when working to obtain these materials. But issues like this also call attention to the importance of working with reliable, knowledgeable suppliers that understand the challenges of the industry. Here’s a rundown of the news and current events currently making waves related to HDPE plastic, along with some tips for overcoming these current challenges. 

How Current Events Impact HDPE Products

Supply chain disruptions have been making headlines around the world for months. These issues are complex and multifaceted. Many of them have been caused or exacerbated by the pandemic. For example, plant closures and layoffs in shipping and logistics companies make it difficult to arrange product delivery. And natural disasters in various markets have disrupted facilities even further. 

At first, these disruptions were masked by consumer uncertainty amid the layoffs and economic issues in the early days of the pandemic. With more people saving their money in case of job loss or business closures, meeting demand was not as obvious an issue. However, economic stimulus and business reopenings have kept consumer demand for various goods and services high. Not only are people still buying products — they’re often willing to pay a premium for them. This drives prices up in a variety of sectors and puts extra strain on supply chains working to keep up. 

On top of these issues, worker shortages across sectors continue to have far-reaching consequences. This is another complex and nuanced issue with many causes and layers. But the result is that manufacturers, suppliers, and shippers often do not have the manpower necessary to keep up with demand. 

HDPE Plastic Shortage in the News

The plastics industry has fallen victim to many of the same issues that other sectors have seen. Specifically, COVID shutdowns last year led to decreased supply at various facilities. And various natural disasters throughout the past year have also led to lost inventory and damage to relevant production facilities and distribution centers. 

But the current HDPE plastic shortage is about more than just shutdowns and basic supply chain disruptions. There’s an actual shortage of chemicals used to produce plastics as well. Petrochemical companies have been hit hard by extreme weather in the past year — specifically due to unseasonably cold weather in Texas and hurricanes in Louisiana. And these facilities are also used to produce the building blocks of HDPE and other plastics. 

As a result, North America is currently experiencing a shortage of monomers and co-monomers, which are required for producing various plastics in different grades. And there are still planned and unplanned outages in various facilities that continue to impact production as well.  

On top of that, there are also logistics challenges to consider. Since consumer demand for various products has remained high, even amid supply shortages, there’s still a huge demand for shipping space in trucks, cargo ships, and various other transport options. So even when there is enough HDPE plastic available from a manufacturer or supplier, it’s not always simple to get those materials where they need to go. In many cases, shipping container space is reserved months in advance. 

This is where much of the challenge lies. Though North American production has been hampered during the pandemic, there’s still some supply of monomers and resins in other parts of the world like Asia and the Middle East. But shipping space to the US is incredibly limited due to increased demand for other imports, along with limited space in shipping containers. 

What This Means for the HDPE Market

So what does this all mean for the companies that produce, distribute, and use HDPE products? Basically, the companies and organizations that utilize HDPE plastic must plan ahead and find reliable suppliers with access to quality inventory. Though supply shortages impact an array of plastics, HDPE is particularly difficult to come by. So those that can be a bit flexible with their material choices may benefit from working with suppliers that offer an array of options. 

This supply shortage also means that manufacturers and distributors need to use even more care when dealing with the materials they do have access to. Any additional damage to resins or loss of supplies can disrupt the supply chain even more. So users should exercise care when selecting suppliers, specifically looking for providers with access to a variety of materials and the resources to protect, customize, and ship the materials they offer. 

Polymershapes is uniquely qualified to meet the needs of changing market demands and to help clients navigate changes in the industry. In addition to our selection of quality HDPE products, we offer a huge assortment of plastics with high performance properties, all from top manufacturers in the industry. We have well established relationships with material providers and shippers to provide the best products as quickly as possible. And our knowledgeable team can walk you through industry changes and options for meeting your company’s goals with various plastic materials. Visit our website to reach out to your local branch today.