28 March 2017
The plastics industry has a wide variety of production methods, materials, market segments and markets. Binding element is the manufacture of semi-finished and finished products through processing polymers. Key clusters are: components for the industrial, packaging and automotive market and building products and consumer products.
In the Netherlands, more than 1300 companies are active in the plastics industry. This number remained relatively stable in the last few years. The plastics sheets and profile industry, the plastic packaging and plastic building products industry are the largest groups within the entire cluster.
In 2/3 of the companies in the plastics industry 5 or less persons are employed. More than 10% of the companies employ 50 or more persons. These larger companies are mainly found in the plastics sheets and profile industry and packaging industry.
● Growing demand and production in Eastern Europe and Asia
● Increasing (re) use of plastics in Europe
● Increasing use and demand for bioplastics
● Further internationalization and expansion
● Plastics are increasingly used as an alternative raw material because of flexible and lightweight applications (e.g. applications in the automotive industry)
● Batch size and time-to-market further decline
● Customers are asking for problem-solving ability of plastic manufacturers
Opportunities and threats
● Through innovation new applications of plastics in the packaging, construction and automotive industry arise
● Collaboration with supply chain partners in the areas of innovation, R&D, sustainability and product development
● Increase in the use of plastics on the basis of positive product properties such as recyclability, light weight and design options
● Volatility of raw material and energy prices (especially oil) affects margins
● The European market has become dependent on raw material suppliers from Asia and the Middle East. The production follows the raw material suppliers and moves partially to these areas
● Many SME companies in the plastics industry have a weak chain position between large chemical companies supplying polymers on one hand and large customers on the other hand
Figures and trends in the plastics industry are published by Rabobank and based on input by magazines (Plastics & Rubber, Plastic Magazine and Network NRK) and organizations (NRK and Syntens)