Published September 2016
While polycarbonate and epoxy resins are the major applications for bisphenol A, other uses include flame retardants, unsaturated polyester resins, polysulfone resins, polyetherimide resins, and polyarylate resins.
Polycarbonate is the primary driver of demand for bisphenol A. As of 2015, it accounted for nearly 64% of world bisphenol A demand, while epoxy resins, the second-largest end use, accounted for 34%. These two bisphenol A demand drivers are expected to grow at average annual rates of almost 3% and 4%, respectively, during the next five years.
The overall health of the world economy will continue to play a major role in future demand for bisphenol A, as its derivatives’ major end-use markets include automotive, construction, and electrical/electronic applications. With more than half of the global demand, the Asian market will continue to expand. China’s market drives growth in demand and capacity in this region.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of bisphenol A:
Asia (including the Indian subcontinent) accounted for 56% of the total world consumption of bisphenol A in 2015. North America and Western Europe combined accounted for about 36%. Together, these three major regions accounted for about 92% of total global consumption in 2015. During 2015–20, total bisphenol A world consumption is expected to grow at an average annual rate of just over 3%. Northeast Asian demand for bisphenol A will grow faster than the rest of the world at about 5% per year for the next five years.
There is a significant amount of concern regarding the health effects of bisphenol A, as it is considered an endocrine disruptor. The European Union and Canada have banned polycarbonate resins (which contain trace amounts of bisphenol A) for baby bottles. Although there is no official ban in the United States, polycarbonate baby bottles have also been pulled from store shelves as a result of consumer concerns about bisphenol A’s health effects—so have water bottles made of polycarbonate resins. Discussions continue about bisphenol A that may be present in the epoxy resins used in can liners. The lack of a suitable replacement for epoxy resins in can liners has temporarily slowed the phaseout of bisphenol A in this market.
While science continues to determine the level of acceptable risk for exposure to bisphenol A, there is still a lot of controversy. The commercial reality is that there is considerable “environmental” pressure to ban and/or limit the use of this material. Consequently, there are ongoing programs or action plans to conduct more research and testing on bisphenol A in order to fully assess its health and environmental impact, including, but not limited to, those by the FDA, the EPA, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the American Chemistry Council.