Resin Shortage and Supply Chain Disruptions
The world is suffering a raw material shortage, and its effects will likely continue for the foreseeable future. The plastics industry, in particular, has continued to be impacted by labor shortages, higher demand, and a restored import tax on resins. Plastic resins, the primary material utilized in everything from packaging to automobile parts, have increased dramatically in price. Rocketing costs have forced some companies to reduce their workforce, raise prices on finished goods, or stop production altogether. Here we’ll explain what has caused these disruptions and how Hapco is handling material shortages now and in the future.
Resin Shortages Around the World
Across the globe, the resin shortage has caused a spike in resin prices. The demand for resins surpasses the volume of available supplies, making it harder for manufacturers to procure polyethylene, nylon, PVC, epoxy, and other resins. This problem affects many industries that rely on epoxy, polyester, and vinyl ester resins to make various products, including pharmaceutical filters, pipes, tanks, car parts, appliances, medical devices, and electronics.
Many plastic manufacturers have reported facing production delays or shutdowns because of the shortage, and costs are expected to rise even further. The shortage has been exacerbated by production slowdowns in China and an increase in demand for epoxy resin in the United States as the economy improves.
For some consumer resins, the balance of supply, demand, and cost is moving in the right direction, but highly engineered resins with enhanced properties such as flame retardancy, biocompatibility, and UV resistance are still restricted.
Supply Chain Disruption Causes
Multiple factors have contributed to the global plastic resin shortage. There was a pause in production during the COVID-19 pandemic last year, as the entire petrochemical sector came to a halt. Because resins are a byproduct of petroleum refining processes, anything that causes a decline in refining activity can set off a domino effect that makes resins harder and more expensive to find.
In addition to pandemic-related transportation, shipping, and labor issues, harsh winter storms in 2021 have also contributed to the raw material shortage. Oil refineries in Louisiana and Texas, where oil is refined into resins, were forced to close due to storms in early 2021, affecting their ability to recover as demand for epoxy resins and other raw materials continues to rise. Even once they do, weather-related events, labor shortages, and high shipping costs will continue to impact supply chain stability.
How Hapco Mitigates These Disruptions
Despite supply chain issues due to natural disasters and the pandemic, Hapco, Inc. has taken steps to mitigate these disruptions and maintain a 100% on-time delivery for all material and equipment orders.
Over the past 50 years, Hapco has developed strong relationships with raw material suppliers, some going back to the ‘70s, that have been vital to our continual business operations. We are able to accumulate enough raw ingredients and packaging materials to meet the increasing demands from our major clients by reacting swiftly when our suppliers inform us of a potential bottleneck. We also work with a variety of U.S.-based suppliers in different locations, which gives us more reliable access to the materials we need even if disruptions occur.
The majority of Hapco’s intermediate resin components are produced in Hanover, Massachusetts, at its own manufacturing facility. This has allowed Hapco to avoid many of the disruptions that a larger firm with more decentralized operations would face.
Looking to the Future
New approaches that could be taken for combating these shortages include innovations in both material science and sustainable production. Aside from supply constraints, Bisphenol A-based epoxy thermosets pose both environmental and health risks. Manufacturers and consumers alike are paying greater attention to new epoxy resins made from organic materials such as peanut and vegetable oil. These epoxies are not only environmentally friendly, but they’re also less expensive to produce.
A second approach is the development of sustainable methods for addressing these needs. There are many different approaches to sustainability. They include methods like recycling and reusing raw materials instead of producing more, using cleaner sources of energy to reduce the carbon footprint, and employing more sustainable manufacturing processes. Achieving sustainability will be a difficult process that may take many years, but it will be worth the reward of contributing to a cleaner planet.
Epoxy and Polyurethane Products at Hapco, Inc.
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