US demand for plastic film is expected to rise 1.3% yearly to 18.7 billion pounds, valued at $32.5 billion, in 2026. Gains will be driven by:
- continued recovery in manufacturing activity following declines in 2019 and 2020, the latter due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- ongoing gains in e-commerce, which are boosting sales of flexible packaging, tapes, and labels that use plastic film, as well as stretch and shrink film used for pallet unitization
- continuing replacement of rigid packaging with flexible varieties, which offer source reduction, lightweighting properties, and lower shipping costs
- development of novel plastic film formulations that have better barrier properties and durability, or are more easily recycled
E-Commerce Boost Demand for Plastic Film in Secondary/Tertiary Packaging, Tapes, & Labels
Secondary and tertiary packaging is expected to account for the largest absolute gains of any plastic film market, boosted by the continued expansion of e-commerce as a retail channel. Secondary and tertiary packaging applications such as stretch and shrink film are essential to the fulfillment of online orders via their use in pallet unitization, where plastic film offers convenience and a level of package protection at a lower cost than some materials.
Rapidly rising e-commerce sales will also support demand for tapes and labels, most notably pressure sensitive labels, which are used extensively for shipping, warehousing, and returns for online retailers.
Sustainability Concerns Will Support the Rapid Growth of Biobased Plastic Films
Sustainability concerns have impacted the plastic film market in the US, with governmental regulations and consumer sentiment prompting a shift away from some single-use plastic products and increasing the interest in environmentally friendly packaging. Biobased plastic film will benefit from these trends, growing at a rapid rate going forward. Although it will continue to account for a small portion of plastic film demand, biobased resin will increase its share of the market, bolstered by lower prices, improved formulations, and state and local government bans and restrictions on single-use plastic bags, of which types that employ biobased resins are typically exempt.
This Freedonia industry study analyzes the 17.5 billion pound US plastic film industry. It presents historical demand data (2011, 2016, and 2021) and forecasts (2026 and 2031) by applications (food packaging, nonfood packaging, secondary packaging, nonpackaging applications) and resin (polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene terephthalate,low volume films (polystyrene, bio-based film, polyvinylidene chloride, ethylene vinyl alcohol, all other plastic films)). The study also evaluates company market share and competitive analysis on industry competitors including Amcor, Berry Global, Inteplast, Sealed Air, and Sigma Plastics.