Recovery slow, but steady, for US plastics industry

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 15, 2011 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Materials, Injection Molding, Blow Molding, Film & Sheet, Pipe/Profile/Tubing, Molds/Tooling

WASHINGTON (Dec. 15, 3:55 p.m. ET) — The U.S. plastics industry is continuing its slow recovery from the recession of 2008-09 — and industry officials are optimistic about the future.

“The plastics industry is faring better than other manufacturing sectors in the U.S.” Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. President Bill Carteaux said during a Dec. 15 press webinar. “Export growth continues to be a bright spot.”

Low-priced natural gas and the lower value of the U.S. dollar are helping the U.S. to remain competitive in the global plastics market, added Michael Taylor, SPI’s senior director of international trade.

During the webinar, Carteaux and Taylor highlighted data to show where the industry stands, based on 2010 results. Findings included:

• Shipments of $341.4 billion, employing 876,000 at almost 17,000 facilities.

• Value of shipments was essentially flat vs. 2005.

• Number of employees fell almost 24 percent vs. 2005.

• New capital expenditures fell almost 9 percent vs. 2005.

The above three items do not include wholesale trade data. The number of plastics jobs and facilities has declined as a result of the recession and of industry consolidation and increased productivity, Carteaux and Taylor explained.

California led the country in number of plastics jobs (with 75,800), followed by Ohio, Texas, Michigan and Illinois.

Based on concentration of jobs, Indiana ranked first with 15.2 plastics jobs per 1,000 non-farm employees. Next up were Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky and South Carolina. The U.S. average was 6.8.

In the state concentration rankings, Connecticut made a leap from 24th to 15th because of gains in wholesale trade jobs, officials said. Alabama went from 20th to 16th because of gains in manufacturing, while Pennsylvania climbed from 15th to 11th because of what officials described as “recession-resistant businesses.”

Going back to 1980, officials said U.S. plastics employment was essentially flat based on per-year growth. The industry’s value of real shipments and productivity growth each increased by more than two percent annually over that 30-year period.

U.S. plastics exports increased more than 24 percent between 2009 and 2010, with imports increasing 23 percent. Plastics exports accounted for almost five percent of all U.S. exports in 2010.

The industry posted a trade surplus of $16.2 billion in 2010 – up almost 28 percent vs. 2009. But – as has been the case in recent years – all of the industry’s surplus came from the resin sector. Plastic products, molds and machinery each posted deficits in 2010, as they have every year since 2002.

Although the trade deficit in plastics products remains sizable, Carteaux said that the deficit in machinery and molds “has leveled off and is not worsening.”

The U.S. plastics industry’s top five export destinations in 2010 were Mexico, Canada, China, Belgium and Japan. Exports to Japan and South Korea each grew more than 40 percent vs. 2009, while exports to Taiwan, Brazil and Belgium each surged more than 30 percent.

The country’s top five import sources for plastics trade were Canada, China, Mexico, Germany and Japan.

In the first 10 months of 2011, exports were up almost 11 percent, with imports increasing almost 10 percent. The industry’s trade surplus was on pace to be slightly higher in 2011.

Carteaux and Taylor also praised recent new U.S. free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Those agreements should make U.S. plastics exports “even brighter,” Taylor said.

Washington-based SPI hosted the webinar to introduce new versions of its Size and Impact of the U.S. Plastics Industry and Global Business Trends studies.


Comments

Recovery slow, but steady, for US plastics industry

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 15, 2011 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Deal puts Convergence Packaging under Comar's umbrella

October 24, 2014 2:00 pm ET

Convergence Packaging Holdings LLC, itself a product of mergers, now is joining together with Comar LLC.    More

Image

Akro-Plastic buying German subsidiary from Metabolix

October 24, 2014 3:32 pm ET

Akro-Plastic GmbH, a Niederzissen, Germany-based plastic compounder, has purchased the assets of Metabolix Inc.'s subsidiary in Germany.    More

Image

Gerresheimer opens first development center in China

October 24, 2014 1:34 pm ET

Medical molder Gerresheimer AG has launched a development center for medical plastic systems in Dongguan, China.    More

Image

SRG opens second China auto parts factory

October 24, 2014 11:25 am ET

U.S. automotive supplier SRG Global Inc. said Oct. 23 it is opening its second plant in China, an injection molding, plating and painting facility in ...    More

Image

BASF pre-tax earnings rise, but will miss financial targets for 2015

October 24, 2014 10:16 am ET

BASF SE has raised its expectations for pre-tax earnings in 2014 but warned that it would not hit its financial targets for next year.    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events