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Plastic Prices Hit Record High to Stoke Inflation Concerns

  • More than 60% of U.S. PVC capacity still offline after freeze
  • LyondellBasell CEO sees months before supply tightness eases
Plastic Waste Processing In Central Sulawesi

Photographer: Basri Marzuki//Getty Images

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For anyone looking for examples of inflation these days, raw materials are a good place to start. Copper, steel -- even lumber -- are either near or at record highs. And so too are plastics, which are often overlooked but are on a tear right now.

Although they’re the building blocks of thousands of everyday products, plastics and their chemical ingredients don’t trade on major commodity exchanges, and large price moves are largely invisible to the wider world. Yet polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is in the midst of a dramatic rally, driven by a combination of rebounding global consumer demand and production outages from last month’s Texas freeze.