As the supply situation for a range of plastic raw materials continues to worsen in Europe, the four largest national organizations representing the plastics packaging industry in Europe, Elipso (France), IK (Germany), BPF and PAFA (UK) have called on polymer producers to invest more in European polymer production facilities.
These organizations point to a number of current issues, such as allocated supplies for polyethylene and polypropylene, with increasingly common supply interruptions; rapidly escalating ethylene prices driving up the price of several polymers; and no announcements of any return to normal supply conditions or of the expected trends ahead.
The four organizations say that an urgent restoration of normal supply is 'imperative', as the industry is in danger of losing credibility with its customers, and risks having them look to alternative materials to satisfy their needs.
A major concern is the growing tendency of polymer producers to invest in the faster growing markets of Asia and the Americas. Consequently, there is unlikely to be significant investment forthcoming to support the European marketplace. An ageing plant is more prone to breakdown and likely to suffer from the maintenance issues frequently cited as a cause of the 'forces majeures'. Only new investment will correct this situation, according to the packaging organizations.
"Unless we have security of supply for our raw materials, then we do not have a truly sustainable plastics packaging industry, which has traditionally accounted for more than one-third of Europe's polymer consumption," declared the UK, German and French organizations in a joint statement.
"Europe is a global leader and powerhouse of innovation not only in plastics packaging technology but also in waste management organization and techniques such as recycling and the incorporation of recyclate into plastics packaging products.
The development of this expertise here in Europe can support the stronger evolution of plastics packaging markets and indeed the acceptance of plastics packaging around the world. For this, we need the polymer producers to invest in the production of their raw materials here in Europe."
The four organizations also paid tribute to plastics packaging converters, which have been skillfully managing this situation of interrupted supply and higher prices in recent months. This has been a high-wire balancing act amid conditions not witnessed for many years, they say.