“Plastics - the Facts 2011” report now available: Despite continued growth, European plastics industry loses top spot on global market to China

Is the European plastics industry suffering from Europe’s debt crisis and its effects on the market? With their annual report "Plastics - the Facts”, PlasticsEurope, EuPC, EuPR and EPRO hint at a mixed assessment for the year 2010. In a continued bounce back from the 2008 economic crisis which had severely hit production figures, the global plastics industry reports an encouraging 6% increase in plastics production from year before to 265 million tonnes, along with an increasing turnover and an encouraging growth in recycling and energy recovery rates.

However, this assessment comes along with a less positive note, as the year 2010 was also marked by 2% job cuts over continued company closures and China overtaking Europe as the world’s main plastics producer. The first half of 2011 raises questions as well: "In the first six months of 2011, we can only notice that the pace of recovery has slowed down because of the reduction in inventory and uncertainty over economic growth. With stable exports and growing imports, the trade surplus is also expected to decrease from 2010”, said Claus-Jürgen Simon, market and economics manager at PlasticsEurope.

The plastics industry will continue playing a key role in the European economy for many years and it looks forward to helping the EU achieve its ambitious 2020 agenda with a focus on growth, innovation, employment and sustainable development. In 2010, plastics producers saw a 17% increase in turnover. "Producers and converters employed 1.6 million people and even more if counting industries highly dependent on plastics such as the automotive, electronics, packaging and building and construction industries” said Alexandre Dangis, managing director at EuPC. Finally, plastics have proved themselves to be energy-efficient solutions. Thanks to continued efforts, new technologies and improved infrastructures, the amount of recycled and recovered plastics in 2010 increased by an average 9.3% from the year before across the EU-27, Norway and Switzerland. This figure, which is equal to 58% of all used plastics, can certainly be improved: while nine countries diverted more than 95% of their landfill, 15 scored less than 40%. However, according to co-chairman of EPRO Francis Huysman, "many of these countries are on fast track towards landfill diversion”.

Plastics are far from having exhausted their potential, be it by fuelling European economic growth or by contributing to citizen well-being and environmental protection. In light of this, "the plastics industry calls on the decision-makers to pursue greater efforts to reach 100% diversion of plastics from landfills by 2020”, said EuPR president Bernard Merkx. The necessary political measures to fend off the crisis and to get the EU back on the growth track should also be taken as soon as possible.  

Related information

Plastics - the Facts 2011
Updated on 04/11/2011