Ups and downs in the world of plastics converting

25 October 2012

According to a trend survey conducted via members of Europe’s largest plastics industry association, Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen (IK) in Germany, there will be a further decline in the economy in the fourth quarter of 2012. The economic situation in the country has reached its lowest level since the same period last year. Yet despite this, manufacturers of plastics packaging have increasingly been confronted with strongly rising raw material prices, as well as supply shortages resulting in short notice delivery cancellations.

Force Majeure announcements have aggravated the situation, although the legality of these is questionable. As a result, the IK is asking European umbrella organisations of plastics producers and converters to develop suitable activities that will guarantee an explicit legal orientation when using the term Force Majeure.

Overall, according to IK, the raw material and supply situation will put margins at risk for plastics packaging manufacturers, and price jumps will need to be passed on to the market, albeit with difficulty. Against this background, the IK economic survey predicts a dramatic profit decline for Q4 2012.

Meanwhile in the UK, the Packaging and Films Association (PAFA), has announced concerns that China is considering placing a ban on plastics waste from the EU – a move that mirrors the announcement recently made by Malaysia. Could this mark the end of the large-scale importation of plastics waste from the UK? And, if so, further jeopardise the chance of the country meeting the new government recycling targets.

With much of the 67% of UK plastics waste being exported to the Far East, particularly China, according to DEFRA statistics, and the UK already desperately short of plastics collection and recycling facilities, PAFA says that reaching a target of 57% by 2017 will be “even more unrealistic and out of touch”.

On the other hand, the European Bioplastics association, also in Germany, is predicting a fivefold growth in the bioplastics market– from around 1.2 million tonnes in 2011 to almost 6 million tonnes in 2016 – with the strongest growth in the biobased, non-biodegradable bioplastics group. This enormous growth clearly reflects the constantly increasing demand for sustainable solutions in the plastics market.

Felicity Murray,


Felicity Murray

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