BASF said the scale back in the production of polystyrene by 25 per cent will be effective from 1 October and will affect its Ludwigshafen and Antwerp sites.
The largest market for PS is packaging such as food and dairy containers, closures and lids.
Another major plastics supplier, Dow Chemical, announced in June that it too was reducing its output of PS in Europe by 15 per cent
BASF spokesperson Sabine Philippe told FoodProductionDaily.com that demand for polystyrene across industry was at 90 per cent at the start of 2008 but the chemical company noted that the market for the plastic began to shrink in August and September.
“While the most pronounced slow down has been in refrigerator in-liners, the drop in demand from the food packaging sector has been considerable as well,” said Philippe.
She said that the chemical company produces 620,000 metric tonnes of the plastic annually in Europe, and 1.5 million tonnes globally.
Philippe said that processors in the US and Asia are also applying the brakes to the purchasing of PS, reflecting the diminishing demand worldwide for commodity plastics.
“We anticipate that a return to normal production levels will commence in early 2009 but, definitely, not before then,” she added.
Philippe was not able to comment on the price implications of the PS production scale-back for food packaging by publication time. However, BASF already increased the price of its Styrolux polymer in July by €150 a tonne.
This hike was on top of those announced at the end of June, when the polymer supplier said it was raising the price of Styrolux by €100 a tonne.
The company also said in mid-June that it was increasing it price of paper and cardboard by up to 20 per cent, citing rising energy and transport costs.
BASF has been aiming to offload its styrenics business, which also includes its styrenic copolymer unit, for over a year.