The European plastics industry faces problems, but a K report believes the industry remains strong
The European plastics industry remains strong despite the many challenges it faces, according to a report from K 2013.
The report asserts there is a state of uncertainty on the continent with austerity measures affecting building and construction projects, consumers buying less cars and best-selling products like smartphones and tablets being made elsewhere.
However, performance plastics is just one of the areas where development, production and use is strong. An example given is that of Victrex in Thornton Cleveleys in England, which has said it will increase its capacity for polyaryletherketone (PAEK) by around 70 percent.
PAEK polymers are used across a wide range of applications in the transport, industrial and electronics sectors.
Despite the current automotive woes that can affect processors of plastic components – automotive production in Europe could fall by up to 8.5% this year – the German plastics processing sector is growing too, according to trade association GKV.
The association’s managing director Oliver Möllenstädt, said: “The converting industry in Germany in 2012 had nearly the same turnover as in the year before but the raw material input decreased.”
Although sales of packaging and films fell in Germany last year, by 0.4 percent, the IK trade association for plastics packaging believes growth should return this year.
This comes as the bioplastics sector, one that occupies a niche in Europe, is noticing growth. Non-biodegradable plastic bags are being phased out in Italy by law, with biodegradable bags taking their place. Other European nations could also follow suit, the report says.
The Dutch government apparently has a target of being ‘the land of green chemistry’ and Italian energy firm Eni has formed a ‘green chemistry’ joint venture with Novamont to produce bio-based monomers, intermediates for elastomers and plastics, and fillers.
Machine makers in Europe are also continuing to invest. Engel is set to spend 12 million euros to expand its assembly and shipping area for injection moulding machines. Sumitomo has also reportedly set aside 20 million euros for the modernisation of production at plants in Germany.