Plastics industry slow to recover

15 months after the outbreak of the pandemic, it is clearly visible that the plastics segment in the chemical industry has suffered quite badly and has recorded – after years of growth – a decline.

The reasons for this are complex. What’s more: there are more and more challenges.

The demand for plastics is growing steadily. Suffice it to say that over the last decade, the production of plastics has increased from 265 million tons to about 367 million tons.

The pandemic put an end to this. The global production of plastics in 2020 recorded a decrease of 0.3% compared to 2019. This year we should expect a return to the growing trend – but the industry has to face many challenges.

However, problems with the availability of raw materials for the production of plastics continue to this day for various reasons.

Are we even in danger of a permanent shortage of raw materials?

  • The answer to this question depends on what we understand under the slogan “permanent shortage” … This term is associated with permanent and irrevocable events, eg a sudden reduction of production capacity by several to several dozen percent. Nothing like that happened, so we believe that the shortcomings are temporary – tells us Anna Kozera-Szałkowska, managing director of the PlasticsEurope Polska foundation.

The current market situation is the result of many different factors resulting directly from last year’s economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which was combined with random events, such as the winter attack in the Gulf of Mexico or this year’s blockade of the Suez Canal.

As noted by Umberto Credali, BOPS president and BOP board member, as well as the president of the PlasticsEurope Polska Foundation, the causes of these extraordinary tensions on the global market – visible in many industries, not only in the plastics sector – are manifold.


What’s more, as experts point out, even if it starts to decline in the near future, it will take some time for it to balance out with the supply. Highly industrialized countries are in a particularly difficult situation – e.g. according to the data of the ifo Institute in Germany in April this year. nearly 70 percent companies in the plastics and rubber industries suffered from raw material shortages

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