As 2014 comes to a close, what better way is there to end the year than with good news? It seems that the plastics industry has officially rebounded after feeling years of strain. In North America, the period between 2008 and 2010 was especially hard as the world struggled through a major economic recession. But an article in Plastics News cited increasing production and investment in North American plastic manufacturing plants recently. A number of facilities were toured for the article, and the overall picture is one of growth and optimism as more businesses are upping equipment purchases.
Overseas, the plastics industry is seeing more interest as well. It is even considered a key to the re-industrialization of Europe.
“The plastics industry is an important part of the solution for a circular economy and for a resource efficient Europe,” said Patrick Thomas, president of PlasticsEurope and CEO of Bayer MaterialScience. He spoke at PolyTalk 2014 in November, and discussed the importance of the plastics sector in driving innovation and creating a more resource-efficient world.
Like North America, Europe saw tough times in 2008 and beyond. And, as in North America, there is a renewed push to increase manufacturing production and create more jobs to support the economy. Currently, the plastics sector is among “the top five most innovative sectors in the EU representing one in 25 patents being submitted by the [European] industry between 2003 and 2012,” according to Plastics Today.
And rounding out the regions where plastics have seen growth, Asia has maintained a substantial share of the market for decades. According to another Plastics News article, “of the 53,000 additional molding machines sold annually around the world now vs. a quarter century ago, about 90 percent of them (or 48,000 injection presses), are sold in the emerging markets of Asia.”
For a while, this global marketplace represented a serious threat to domestic manufacturers. Lately, however, the field is leveling out as costs rise overseas and production returns to other countries. In particular, the United States is seeing a major shift to reshoring as newer technology and more efficient supply chains make it easier and cost-effective to do business there rather than in countries like China. And with innovation at a peak and better plastic composites being created all the time, it’s no wonder that the plastics industry is witnessing this trend. We hope it continues long after the New Year!
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