Following the many-year example, PlasticsEurope Polska Foundation holds the annual press conference. The first day of the 13th International Fair of Plastics and Rubber Processing is when PlasticsEurope Polska publishes initial plastics production and demand estimates for 2018
Plastics industry - the development under pressure
The demand for plastics from processors has increased in Poland and in Europe, the estimated level of 3.6 million tonnes and 51.4 million tonnes respectively. However Poland’s demand has increases much faster in comparison to the previous year. Poland has reported over 7% increase, while Europe’s increase was only 0.3%. Poland's demand for plastics represents around 7 % of the average European demand. Demand for plastics still ranks Poland sixth in Europe, right after Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the Great Britain. The three main applications areas in Poland’s total plastics consumption - packaging sector with its 32.9% share, construction - 25.5% and automotive - 9.8%.
The global plastics production volume in 2018 is estimated at the level of 359 million tonnes which indicates the increase of 3.0% compared to the previous year. Over half of the plastics are manufactured in Asia; China has further strengthened its leading position and now delivers 30% of global production. Forecasts by 2023 indicate that the growth will remain at a the slightly above 3% level. For standard materials the growth rate will be slightly higher than for consumer material (3.3% and 4.3%, respectively). In Europe, after a very good 2017, 2018’s production dropped by approx. 4%.
Poland’s high demand for raw materials for converting and the current production capacities of domestic polymer producers result in the fact that a large amount of raw material is imported into the Polish market. And the negative trade exchange balance with foreign countries has been growing on year to year basis - in 2018 it amounted to 2,333 thousand tones. For many years Germany has been and still remains Poland's main trading partner in intra-community export and import of plastics in primary forms as well as plastic products. Outside the EU, for a number of years Ukraine and Russia are Poland's largest export markets - Ukraine for primary plastics forms and Russia for finished goods. Outside the EU, most plastics in primary forms are still imported from South Korea. Plastic products are mainly imported from China.
According to Poland’s Central Statistics Office GUS, the employment growth in plastic and rubber manufacturing companies was rated at 4% level. This sector’s annual production increase reached 6%. Yet according to PlasticsEurope estimates, the plastic manufacturing sector as such increased by approx. 7%.
Poland’s plastics industry invests in new production capacities relatively more than other industry sectors. The rubber and plastic products industry investments amounted to nearly PLN 4.9 billion in 2018 and were thus 18% higher than in 2017. In the long-term perspective, since 2008 the entire processing industry investments have increased by 26%, while in the rubber and plastic products reported the high increase of 68%. At the same time, according to the PlasticsEurope Polska's analyses, the largest capital concentration is attached to plastic packaging converters sector followed by the construction and automotive sectors.
Kazimierz Borkowski, the PlasticsEurope Polska Managing Director emphasises: "We are pleased that Poland’s plastics industry has been growing continuously for many years. Since 2000, the industry production sold has increased almost five-fold. However, the industry has experienced an increasing pressure from both the legislators and the general public. This pressure is aimed at plastics use reduction. The Single-Use Plastics Directive and resulting legal provisions are the first example of such initiatives. In a moment we may find out that some of the previously described industry investments will not have the chance to amortise. The Strategy for Plastics has given many global corporations a prod to declare "rationalised" use of plastics in packaging. This may affect the demand for plastics for packaging production. We are afraid that the decision process aimed at plastics replacement with other materials may result in the proverbial "pouring a child with a bath". Our fear is that such actions may lead to adverse effects, such as increased energy consumption or increased food waste. Plastics used in products with a long service life there seems to be no risk of replacement with other materials. On the contrary - we believe that plastics use will systematically increase in such sectors as construction, automotive, aviation and renewable energy generation. It should be remembered that plastics have been widely used in almost all areas of life. These have proven to be ideal material to instil innovations impossible to achieve without the use of plastics. "