Plastics production rises, says PlasticsEurope
World production of plastics rose nearly 3% in 2012, according to figures from PlasticsEurope, the Brussels-based trade association.
Volumes rose from 280m tonnes to 288m tonnes, said Wilfried Haensel, PlasticsEurope's executive director at K 2013 (Haensel’s retirement means that Karl Foerster has now become executive director of the association).
In Europe the picture was more downbeat, with production sliding 3% and demand falling 2.5%, thanks to decreasing demand in key sectors such as packaging, building and construction and automotive.
Regarding difficulties Europe has experienced since the 2008-09 financial crisis, Haensel said: "Even if we would have preferred a quicker recovery, we have so far managed to dodge the threat of globalization and remain competitive and innovative, thereby contributing 2.6% to Europe's GDP."
But he said lower energy and raw material prices remain "a substantial challenge."
Patrick Thomas, PlasticsEurope president and CEO of BayerMaterialScience, said 2013 would likely be viewed as one of stabilization while 2014 industry predictions suggested a "slight recovery."
PlasticsEurope also released data showing recycling and energy recovery rates of 26.3% (up 4.9%) and 35.6% (up 3.3%), respectively. Europe saw a total recovery rate of an average of 61.9%, up 4% versus 2011.
Haensel pointed out that recycling and energy recovery vary significantly among European countries, with some recovering 100% of post-consumer waste and others, such as the UK, could not reach 30%. In a business-as-usual scenario, Haensel said zero plastics to landfill could be achieved by 2037, but the industry is keen to accelerate this process.
"Can we afford to throw away €70bn? I don't think society can and nor should it," he added.