As the healthcare industry grapples the best therapeutic approaches to stop infectious diseases from spreading within hospitals, the plastic industry has emerged as a significant ally in the endeavor. Antimicrobial plastic is the potential weapon, which aims to deliver the convenience of plastic products without compromising on the health aspect. Demand for antimicrobial plastics in the healthcare sector has gained prominence in the last few years, since the industry is keen to ensure that plastic surfaces, particularly those touched by doctors and patients, are resistant to bacteria and other diseases.
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Antimicrobial plastics are molded polymers that are infused with antimicrobial chemicals to inhibit the invasion and growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. Apart from the healthcare industry, antimicrobial plastics also find application in the building and construction, automotive, consumer goods, packaging, and electronics industries. Furthermore, they are also used in niche applications such as water storage containers made from plastics, pipes, lids, and waste bins. Growing awareness among consumers regarding cleanliness and good health have played a major role in propelling the antimicrobial plastics market globally, and the U.S. has emerged as the most lucrative market.
According to a market survey conducted recently by Transparency Market Research, the U.S. antimicrobial plastics market, which stood at US$0.6 bn in 2013, is anticipated to reach US$1.2 bn by 2020. If these figures hold true, the U.S. market for antimicrobial plastics will exhibit a CAGR of 9.30% during the 2014-2020 period. On the basis of volume, the U.S. antimicrobial plastics market stood at 100,062.1 tons in 2013.
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Healthcare Industry Leads Demand from Antimicrobial Plastics Market in U.S.
Among the many end-use industries demanding antimicrobial plastics, the healthcare industry accounted for over 44% of the U.S. antimicrobial plastics market in 2013. Industries such as packaging and electronics and consumer appliances followed the healthcare industry. Implementation of stringent regulations to ensure better healthcare standards and hygiene will subsequently aid the future growth prospects of the antimicrobial plastics industry in the U.S. Additionally, demand arising from industries such as food and beverages, personal care and cosmetics, and packaging will augment the demand for antimicrobial plastics in the near future.
In the U.S., antimicrobial plastics are governed by the EPA (Environment Protection Agency). The EPA identifies antimicrobial plastics as “treated articles”. Furthermore, they are also considered “pesticides” as per EPA regulations. There are many favorable regulations in the U.S. relating to the use of antimicrobial plastics in medical devices. The production of most of these medical devices also falls under the purview of the EPA, which boosts the use of antimicrobial plastics, thereby fuelling their demand from the U.S. market. However, it is important to note that antimicrobial plastics that are used in medical device manufacturing are regulated by the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) and are classified as drugs.
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The healthcare sector in the U.S. being subject to the extensive regulations of the country, which are mostly favorable to the use of treated plastics, the antimicrobial plastics market will witness positive growth in the coming years. Moreover, the healthcare application of antimicrobial plastics is poised to surge exponentially, fuelling demand from the U.S. antimicrobial plastics market.
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