Plasctics - The Facts 2021

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Plastics - the Facts2021An analysis of Europeanplastics production,demand and waste data

2Plastics - the Factsis an analysis of thedata related to theproduction and demandof plastic materials andprovisional plastic wastemanagement data.It provides the latestbusiness information onproduction and demand,trade, and recovery aswell as employmentand turnover data inthe plastics industry. Inshort, this report gives aninsight into the industry’scontribution to Europeaneconomic growth.

The data presented in this report was collected by Plastics Europe (the Associationof Plastics Manufacturers in Europe) and EPRO (the European Association of PlasticsRecycling and Recovery Organisations).Plastics Europe’s Market Research and Statistics Group (PEMRG) provided input onthe production and demand of plastic raw materials. Conversio Market & StrategyGmbH helped assess waste collection and recovery data. Official statistics fromEuropean or national authorities and waste management organisations have beenused for recovery and trade data, where available. Research or expertise fromconsultants completed gaps. Figures cannot always be directly compared withthose of previous years due to changes in estimates.Some estimates from previous years have been revised in order to track progress,e.g., for use and recovery of plastics across Europe over the past decade. All figuresand graphs in this report show data for EU27 plus Norway, Switzerland and theUnited Kingdom, which is referred to as Europe for the purposes of abbreviation –other country groups are explicitly listed.3

ENABLINGa sustainable futureToday, plastics deliver numerous benefits to society. They help feed the world in a safe andsustainable manner; they contribute to more energy efficient buildings and houses; they allowgreat fuel savings in all transportation means ensuring the transition to a green mobility, andthey can even save our lives.Undoubtedly, plastics are key materials in innovation and in reducing energy demand whilereducing green gas emissions. And as essential materials for society, our sector must ensurethat plastics are sustainable and have a positive impact on people and on the planet.The plastics industry supports the European Union’s Green Deal and climate-neutralityambitions, and the Paris Climate Agreement - our collective blueprint for accelerating thetransformation to a more sustainable Europe. Our committment as an industry is to relentlesslyfocus on ensuring plastics continue to enable and deliver benefits valued by society, whileminimising their environmental footprint.4

The current report is an analysis ofplastics EU trade data, virgin plasticsproduction, virgin plastics convertersdemand and preliminary postconsumer plastic waste managementin the EU27 3 in 2020. This reportdoes not show data related to theproduction and use of recycledplastics.For a more exhaustive analysisof plastics progress towardscircularity in Europe, includingmore in-depth post-consumerplastic waste management figures;information on the production anduptake of recycled plastics in newproducts; and the different availabletechnologies to turn plastic wasteinto new resources, please refer tothe report “The Circular Economy ofPlastics – A European Overview”. Anupdate of this report will be releasedearly 2022 by Plastics Europe.Despite the unexpected challenging circumstances,in 2020, the European plastics industry rapidlyadapted its capacities to continue delivering safeand sustainable solutions to society.As a consequence of the COVID crisis, in 2020,the European plastics value-chain, composedby plastics producers, plastics converters,plastics recyclers and machinery manufacturers,experienced a decrease both in its production anddemand levels. Nevertheless, this sector was stillable to maintain a high level of employment. Withclose to 1.5 million people working in over 50,000companies, most of them SMEs distributed all overEurope, the plastics sector is key to the Europeaneconomic recovery.Regarding end-of-life management, the industryincreased its efforts to accelerate the circularityof plastics and, although the overall Europeanrecycling activities faced serious difficulties,especially in the second quarter of 2020, theplastics post-consumer waste recycling rateincreased and the quantities sent to energyrecovery processes and to landfill decreased.5

16CONTRIBUTIONto Europeansociety

The european plastics industry:KEY FIGURES*The European plastics industry includes plastics rawmaterials producers, plastics converters, plasticsrecyclers and plastics & rubber machinery producersin the EU27 3.EMPLOYEMENTCLOSE TO 1.5 MILLIONIn 2020, the European plastics industrymaintained its level of employment witha brief slowdown compared to 2019.COMPANIESCLOSE TO 52,000In 2020, the number of companies slightlydecreased but still remained over 50,000 –demonstrating the contribution of this sectorto the European industrial fabric.TURN OVERCLOSE TO EUR 330 BILLION In 2020, the turnover of the Europeanplastic industry showed a slight decreasecompared to the previous year, mainly dueto the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on themajority of customer industries.KEY FIGURES8* 2020 Plastics Europe estimations – Eurostatofficial data only available until 2018.

EMPLOYEES PER COMPANYLESS THAN 30The vast majority of companies in the plastics sector in Europe are SMEsas the average number of employees per company is around 29 people.INDUSTRIAL VALUE ADDEDINVESTMENTSThe European plastics industry ranks 8th in Europein industrial value-added contribution. It stands ata similar level with the electrical equipment andclose to the pharmaceutical industry.In 2021, plastic producers plannedsignificant investments in chemicalrecycling technologies – ramping up fromEUR 2.6 billion in 2025 to EUR 7.2 billion in 2030.8TH MOST IMPORTANT INDUSTRY*IN CHEMICAL RECYCLINGRECYCLING10,2 MTIn 2020, almost 10.2 million tonnes of postconsumer plastic waste were collected andsent to recycling facilities inside and outsideEurope.INDUSTRIAL VALUE ADDED* Measured by value addedat factor cost, 2018.9

2PRODUCTIONand trade


WORLD AND EUROPEANplastics production evolutionWORLD PLASTICS PRODUCTIONMt380These figures do not include the productionof recycled plastics368367359360Mt349340EUROPEAN PLASTICS PRODUCTIONThese figures do not include the productionof recycled 72018201920203020162017201820192020Includes Thermoplastics, Polyurethanes, Thermosets, Elastomers, Adhesives, Coatings and Sealants and PP-Fibers.Not included PET-, PA- and Polyacryl-Fibers.SOURCE: Plastics Europe Market Research Group (PEMRG) / Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH.Estimated data.

DISTRIBUTIONof the global plastics productionCHINA32%NAFTA*19%REST OF ASIA17%EUROPE15%MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA7%LATIN AMERICA4%JAPAN3%CIS**3%367 Mt**** North American Free Trade Agreement** Commonwealth of Independent States*** with Other Plastics (includes Thermosets, Elastomers, Adhesives, Coatings and Sealantsand PP-Fibers. Not included PET-, PA- and Polyacryl-Fibers)SOURCE: Plastics Europe Market Research Group (PEMRG) / Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH. Estimated data.13

TRADE BALACEClose to EUR 16 billion in 2020In 2020, the European plastics industry achieved a positive trade balance of EUR 15.8 billion.PLASTICS MANUFACTURING EXTRA EU27PLASTICS PROCESSING EXTRA EU27 2016SOURCE: 20167.88.2201720187.720196.5 EXPORTSURPLUS2020




Converters plastics demandBY COUNTRIESMt1412MORE THAN 3 POLANDSPAIN7.0%4.7%4.3%UNITED BELGIUM / %AUSTRIA PORTUGAL SWEDEN1.8%1.7%HUNGARY ROMANIAData primarily based on expert estimations by PEMRG (Plastics Europe Market Research Group).Country-specific quantities can differ from data provided by national statistical institutes (e.g. GUS Poland etc.).SOURCE: Plastics Europe Market Research Group (PEMRG) and Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH.Demand estimations only refer to virgin plastics.20202019


EU27 3 converters plastics demandBY SEGMENTS 2020Packaging and Building & Construction by far represent the largest end-usemarkets.The third biggest end-use market is the Automotive L&ALICTIOMTOAUBU20.4%VEON20IC LDIO NN GST &RUCTI*GINGKACPA40.5%SUECRETRO,SNPOICSRTS"Others" includes plastics for furniture, medical applications, machinery andmechanical engineering, technical parts etc.6.2% 4.3% 3.2% 16.7%* Including commercial and industrial packagingSOURCE: Plastics Europe Market Research Group (PEMRG) and Conversio Market& Strategy GmbH.Demand estimations only refer to virgin plastics.49.1Mt

PLASTICS DEMANDIN EU27 3EU27 3 converters plastics demandMt10BY TYPES 20209. 879 8 .8589. 708 .577649.1 Mt6.296 .325 .09544 .703 .994 .014 .1432102 .701 .581 .541 .433 .813 .783 .652 .61202020191 .550.970.830.261 .020.260.850.770.73LDPEHDPEPPPSPS-EPVCPETABS PMMAPAPCOTHER PUR OTHERSLLDPESANTHERMO-PLASTICSPLASTICSSOURCE: Plastics Europe Market Research Group (PEMRG) / Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH.Demand estimations only refer to virgin plastics.21

EU27 3 converters plastics demandDISTRIBUTION BY RESIN TYPES 2020PPPP Food packaging, sweet and snack wrappers,hinged caps, microwave containers, pipes,automotive parts, bank notes, etc.PE-LD, -LLD17.4%19.7%PE-LD, -LLD Reusable bags, trays and containers,agricultural film, food packaging film, etc.PE-HD, -MD Toys, milk bottles, shampoo bottles, pipes,houseware, etc.PE-HD, -MD12.9%PVC9.6%PVC Window frames, profiles, floor and wallcovering, pipes, cable insulation, gardenhoses, inflatable pools, etc.PET8.4%PET Bottles for water, soft drinks, juices,cleaners, etc.PUR Building insulation, pillows and mattresses,insulating foams for fridges, 7.4%PS, PS-E6.1%SOURCE: Plastics Europe Market Research Group (PEMRG)and Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH.Demand estimations only refer to virgin plasticsOTHER Includes other thermosets such asPLASTICS phenolic resins, epoxide resins, melamineresins, urea resins and others.PS, PS-E Food packaging (dairy, fishery), buildinginsulation, electrical & electronic equipment,inner liner for fridges, eyeglasses frames, etc.OTHER Hub caps (ABS); optical fibres (PBT); eyeglassesTHERMOPLASTICS lenses, roofing sheets (PC); touch screens(PMMA); cable coating in telecommunications(PTFE); and many others in aerospace, medicalimplants, surgical devices, membranes, valves& seals, protective coatings, etc.

EU27 3 converters plastics demandTotal:49.1 MtBY SEGMENTS & POLYMER 2020Packaging40.5%Building &Construction20.4%Automotive8.8%Electrical &Electronics6.2%Agriculture3.2%Household,Leisure, Sports4.3%Others16.7%LDPE HDPEPPPSPS-E PVCPETABS PMMA PAPCOTHER PUR OTHERSLLDPESANTHERMO-PLASTICSPLASTICSSOURCE: Plastics Europe Market Research Group (PEMRG) and Conversio Market & Strategy GmbH.Demand estimations only refer to virgin plastics.Numbers behind this graph are available upon request.23

4END-OF-LIFEmanagementPreliminary data24


POST-CONSUMER PLASTIC WASTEtreatment in 2020 (provisional data)In 2020, more than 29 million tonnes of plastic post-consumer waste were collected in the EU27 3.Because plastics products have different life span (ranginging from 1 to 50 years or more), of postconsumer plastic waste collection figures do not match demand or consumption figures.RECYCLING*More than one third was sent to recycling facilities inside and outside the EU27 3 but over23% was still sent to landfill and more than 40% was sent to energy recovery operations.29.5 Mt201826202042%LLFIDNLA-16 %Extra-EU plasticwasteexportsENRE ERGC YOVERY34.6%Collected plasticpost-consumer waste23.4%* RECYCLING: including 0.2% from chemical recyclingSOURCE: Conversio Market & Strategy GmbHAbove data are rounded estimations based onextrapolations of 2019 waste data for 2020.

PLASTIC POST-CONSUMER WASTEtreatment in 2020 (provisional 2.410.26.9* CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate is the mean annual growth rate over a specific period of timeSOURCE: Conversio Market & Strategy GmbHAbove data are rounded estimations based on extrapolations of 2019 waste data for al waste 0%117.7%1520Mt204%2006-2020 evolutionof post-consumer plasticwaste treatment in EU27 308CAGR*development2020 vs. 201827



PLASTICS INDUSTRY PRODUCTIONin EU27The sharp decline in production for the European plastics industry due to the coronavirus pandemic inthe first half of 2020 was followed by an even stronger recovery.Plastics industry production in EU27(index 2015 100, seasonally adjusted quarterly data)1201101009080Plastics and rubber machinery30SOURCE: EurostatPlastics in primary 0Plastic products

Evolution of the production ofPLASTICS IN PRIMARY FORMSEuropean plastics manufacturers benefited from the high demand for plastics in 2021 due to the globaleconomic upswing. However, many companies had to deal with supply chain disruptions, bottlenecksin precursors, and rising energy prices.Production of primary plastics, EU27Index 2015 100 on a quarterlybasis; seasonally and workingday adjusted.Growth rates20192020-3.6%-5.2%2021 forecast 8.5%1201101009080Production primary plasticsSOURCE: Average annual index31

GLOSSARYof termsABSASAbnCHCISConversioEUAcrylonitrile butadiene styrene resinAcrylonitrile styrene acrylate resinBillionSwitzerlandCommonwealth of Independent StatesConversio Market & Strategy GmbHEuropean UnionPBTPCPEPEEKPE-HDPE-LDPE-LLDPolybutylene erketonePolyethylene, high densityPolyethylene, low densityPolyethylene, linear low densityEU27 3EU Member States Norway,Switzerland and the United KingdomPE-MDEPROEuropean Association of PlasticsRecycling and Recovery OrganisationsPETPolyethylene terephthalateETPEngineering ThermoplasticsPlastics inprimary formsPlastics raw materialsGDPktMtNAFTANOOtherplasticsGross domestic productKilo tonnesMillion tonnesNorth American Free Trade AgreementNorwayThermosets, adhesives,coatings and sealantsOtherIncludes polyacetals (e.g. POM),thermoplastics polyesters excl. fibres (e.g. PBT), ASA,EPDM/ EPM and further thermoplasticsnot shown separatelyPA32PolyamidesPEMRGPolyethylene, medium densityPlastics Europe Market Research GroupPlastic materials Thermoplastics sPolymethyl neExpandable vinyl chlorideStyrene-acrylonitrile copolymerUrea-formaldehyde foam, melamineresin, polyester resins, epoxy resins, etc.

Plastics EuropePlastics Europe is the pan-European association of plastics manufacturers with offices acrossEurope. F or over 100 years, science and innovation has been the DNA that cuts across our industry. With close to 100 members producing over 90% of all polymers across Europe, we are the catalyst forthe industry with a responsibility to openly engage with stakeholders and deliver solutions which aresafe, circular and sustainable. W e are committed to implementing long-lasting positive change.EPROEuropean Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery OrganisationsEPRO is a pan-European partnership of specialist organisations that are able to develop anddeliver efficient solutions for the sustainable management of plastic waste, now and for the future.EPRO members are working to optimise national effectiveness through international co-operation:by studying successful approaches, evaluating different solutions and examining obstacles toprogress. By working together EPRO members can achieve synergies that will increase efficientplastics recycling and recovery. Currently 19 organisations in 14 European countries, South Africa andCanada are represented in EPRO.33

Rue Belliard 40, box 161040 Brussels – Belgium 32 (0)2 792 30 99@PlasticsEuropeKonigin Astridlaan 59, bus 51780 Wemmel – Belgium 32 (0)2 456 84 49 2021 Plastics Europe All rights

KEY FIGURES* The European plastics industry includes plastics raw materials producers, plastics converters, plastics recyclers and plastics & rubber machinery producers in the EU27 3. KEY

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