Plastics industry crucial player in re-industrialization of Europe

November 11, 2014

PlasticsEurope and EuPC, the association of European Plastic Converters, have launched a joint Manifesto on the plastics industry competitiveness in Europe, calling on EU policy makers to join the industry in its efforts to keep a strong plastics sector in Europe. The launch took place at the press conference held prior to the start of PolyTalk 2014, the two-day conference organized by PlasticsEurope in Brussels on November 4-5, under the heading "European Industrial Renaissance...Let's make it happen."

At the press conference, Patrick Thomas, president of PlasticsEurope and CEO of Bayer MaterialScience, spoke forcefully about the need for joint action from policymakers and the industry - now. "The plastics industry is an important part of the solution for a circular economy and for a resource efficient Europe," he said.  "We need a long term strategy for Europe's re-industrialization that encompasses the plastics sector as a key strategic partner driving innovation and securing transition towards a resource efficient and low carbon economy."

Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience AG 

In Europe, the manufacturing sector has lost 3.8 jobs since 2008. In an attempt to turn this around, the European Commission has set a target to increase the industrial share of Europe's GDP from 15.3% to 20% by 2020, the idea being that a revitalized manufacturing sector can act as an engine for growth and the much-needed employment for the future. The European plastics industry can contribute significantly: the plastics industry accounts for a positive trade balance of EUR 18 billion (USD 22.37 billion). It also forms part of the top five most innovative sectors in the EU representing one in 25 patents being submitted by the industry between 2003 and 2012.

Moreover, strengthening the competitiveness of the European plastics industry can have a significant impact on the recovery of the manufacturing sector in general. A 2013 study conducted by Italian think tank The European House Ambrosetti found, for example, that at a national level, taking the example of Italy, a 10% increase in the value added to the European plastics sector could lead to a 4.4% increase in the value added to the overall EU manufacturing sector and that every job created in the plastics sector leads to the creation of almost 3 additional jobs in the wider economy. The study noted in addition that a €100 GDP increase in the plastics supply chain generates a €238 GDP increase in the economy.

"The European plastics industry is a strategic pillar of the manufacturing sector in Europe, with a huge capacity for innovation and a knock-on effect on other key areas of the economy. We are determined to invest in Europe's future and work with policy makers and other key stakeholders to shape a sustainable growth roadmap for the European plastics industry in Europe," declared Patrick Thomas.

The Manifesto emphasizes that a "favorable climate for investment in Europe is crucial for the plastics industry to continue to make a meaningful contribution to European economy and society," and calls for support from policymakers in areas including the costs of energy and raw materials, the promotion of education and training, stimulation of ongoing investment in innovation, involving the plastics industry in initiatives promoting sustainable growth and the need for consistent and complementary regulation.

As Michael Kundel, president of EuPC and CEO of Renolit pointed out: "The European plastics industry employs more than 1.4 million people in the European Union in some 62,000 companies and creates a turnover in excess of 300 billion EUR per year. The support of European policy makers is critical to help us drive economic growth, create high quality employment opportunities and optimize our contribution to European welfare."

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