Cellulose Acetate Flake
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Published: April 2012
Cellulose acetate flake is consumed primarily in one major application: the production of cellulose acetate fibers for conversion into cigarette filter tow and textile fibers. Cellulose acetate fibers accounted for nearly 90% of world consumption of cellulose acetate flake in 2011. Detailed information on fiber end uses can be found in the CEH Cellulose Acetate Fibers marketing research report. Cellulose acetate molding and extrusion compounds, sheet, photographic film, coatings and inks accounted for 6%; cellulose triacetate for polarizer protection films used in liquid crystal displays accounted for the remainder of world consumption of cellulose acetate flake in 2011.
The cellulose acetate plastics covered in this report are the cellulose esters of acetic acid or mixed cellulose esters of acetic acid with butyric or propionic acids. Cellulose acetate flake is also compounded with plasticizers and other additives and used to produce plastic articles such as films and molded articles.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of cellulose acetate flake:
Cellulose acetate flake consumption largely tracks world demand for cigarette filter tow, which in turn is dependent nearly exclusively on production of filtered cigarettes. Demand for cigarette filter tow has consistently declined in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia as a result of declining smoking prevalence. Regulations concerning smoking in Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Central and South America are fewer and not as restrictive; additionally, social pressure to stop smoking is not as strong in these regions. While these regulations influence smoking on a regional level, global consumption of cigarettes is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of approximately 0.7% during 2010–2020. This is a slower rate of growth than during 2000–2010, when global cigarette consumption grew at an average annual rate of approximately 1.0%; the higher growth is due largely to increased cigarette consumption in Asia, where population growth and increases in living standards experienced a period of significant growth.
The current world market for cellulose acetate flake is balanced to tight. Supplies tightened starting in late 2005 because of limited availability of dissolving pulp, followed by increased demand, especially in China and Russia. Supply remained tight through 2010. Although demand in Japan declined in 2011 as a result of the earthquake in March, demand from other Asian and Central and Eastern European countries was strong.
Cellulose acetate flake is not at risk for substitution by competing products. Nearly all cigarette filters are based on cellulose acetate. Replacement of cellulose acetate textile fibers, primarily by polyester fibers, has largely occurred.