Polymer shortage in Europe ‘impacting production’

The trade association of European plastics converters, EuPC, says a raw material shortage and an increase in price is “seriously impacting” the production of plastic products in the EU.

According to a statement from the association published yesterday (8 March), plastic converting companies across Europe are reporting difficulties in getting the necessary raw materials to keep their production running, and are facing “alarmingly low stocks”.

The EuPC warned of shortages of plastic products such as food packaging and parts for the construction or automotive industry

It said that while demand for polymers grew in the second half of 2020, supply did not follow accordingly. This, coupled with a shortage of shipping containers, has meant companies are experiencing price increases.

Alexandre Dangis, EuPC managing director, said the situation had “worsened rapidly” since December 2020, and other factors were at play too.

“Additionally, extreme weather conditions in the USA lead to production losses also affecting the European market,” he said. “In addition, European producers have also been declaring increased numbers of Force Majeure cases in the past months, as the Polymers for Europe Alliance reported already in January.”

The association called upon its partners in the European polymer manufacturing industry to work together with their European customers to try and resolve the situation as soon as possible “in order not to put supplies of essential goods in danger”.

Recycling

According to Stuart Foster, chief executive of plastics recycling charity RECOUP,  there is currently an “imbalance” as there is talk of high raw material demand yet not enough resources saved from waste.

Stuart Foster, chief executive of plastics recycling charity RECOUP

Mr Foster said: “Industry is evolving to develop ways to reduce the amount of material used and dampen raw material demand bottle necks, and produce items that are easier to recycle in the first place are part of that.

“However that material still has to be collected and recycled. Plastic bottles are the easiest product to recycle, with every local authority in the country collecting them, and yet the RECOUP UK Household Plastics Collection survey revealed that only 59% of all plastic bottles sold are being recycled.”

Mr Foster added that plastics recycling industry is evolving to develop ways to reduce the amount of material used “and dampen raw material demand bottle necks”. He added that produce items that are easier to recycle in the first place are part of that.

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