Balanced summary of a pandemic year
During the press conference, PlasticsEurope Polska presented the estimated results of the plastics industry for 2020. Compared to 2019, the global production of plastics decreased by 0.3%. In Europe, the plastics converters demand fell to 48.3 million tonnes. Poland recorded an increase in demand by approx. 3%, and employment in the industry remained stable. According to the survey conducted by PlasticsEurope Polska, despite the challenges, the industry assesses the future positively.
According to PlasticsEurope’s estimations, the converters demand for plastics in Poland amounted to approx. 3.7 million tonnes, which means an increase compared to 2019 by approx. 3%. This is a good result in the context of the turmoil in the global and European economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The amounts of plastics used for processing in our country constitute approx. 7.7% of the average European demand. The packaging and construction industries remain the major sectors that use plastic products with total share of almost 60%. Automotive, the third largest segment, due to the production stoppage during the pandemic, decreased its share to approx. 8% (compared to 10% in 2019). It is worth noting that in Poland the production of rubber and plastic products is one of the most important sectors of the economy, accounting for 8.8% of all jobs in manufacturing.
“The plastics industry in Poland, which has been intensively developing for over 10 years, has coped quite well with the challenges of the past year. We are glad that the last year's concerns about the plastics industry forecast declines have not materialized” noted Anna Kozera-Szałkowska, Managing Director, PlasticsEurope Polska. “First of all, companies have maintained a stable level of employment, which is of a great value in the context of the crisis faced by all industries.” - added Anna Kozera-Szałkowska.
In April, PlasticsEurope Polska conducted a survey that showed the mood in the industry. In the opinion of the Foundation, good results in Poland are confronted with development barriers, among which respondents first of all indicated unstable legal regulations and the lack of professional workforce. Companies feel a lot of pressure resulting from, inter alia, numerous and changing legislative regulations. It reflects in not the best moods, nevertheless 2/3 of entrepreneurs declare their willingness to continue investing in the next 2-5 years.
Among other development barriers, about 1/3 of the surveyed entrepreneurs indicated unfavorable regulations on the storage of raw materials and secondary raw materials. The respondents also emphasized difficulties in obtaining funding for investment projects due to complicated procedures and problematic access to good quality raw materials for recycling. In addition, 83% of respondents feel a strong pressure on the industry, mainly in such areas as negative narrative around plastics and increasing legal restrictions.
Looking at the market data from a global perspective, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the slowdown in recent years. In 2020, global production of plastics, according to PlasticsEurope's estimates, amounted to 367 million tonnes, which is a decrease of 0.3% compared to 2019. More than half of plastics is produced in Asia, and the leading position is strengthened by China, whose share in the global production increased to 32%. In 2020, the share of Europe fell to approx. 15%, and the share of NAFTA countries amounted to 19%.
The European plastics industry also recorded declines in 2020 - the converters demand for plastics is estimated at 48.3 million tonnes, which means a decrease by as much as 4.9% compared to 2019, mainly due to decline in demand for plastics from the automotive and packaging industries.
In addition to the current European challenges, environmental and legislative issues related to the transformation of Europe into the first climate-neutral continent, remain invariably important. "The plastics industry provides innovative solutions that enable not only the transformation towards a circular economy, but also the implementation of ambitious plans under the European Green Deal." - emphasized Anna Kozera-Szałkowska, adding "It is enough to mention the benefits for climate protection and resource savings achieved through the use of insulation made of plastics or lightweight car components that reduce fuel consumption. Moreover, innovative and safe packaging effectively protects food, contributing to the reduction of food waste. The industry is also involved in numerous recycling development projects - including chemical recycling - making plastics an integral part of the success of the circular economy."