India's plastics sector dealing with growth, challenges

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India’s Plastivision 2013 trade show kicked off in Mumbai in December with 1,500 exhibiting companies and, organizers said, 100,000 attendees. It’s the country’s second-largest plastics fair.

In spite of India’s recent economic downturn, there was optimism, with plastics consumption in the country expected to double by 2020, to 20 million metric tons. Major end use markets like automobiles are growing. Car production in India is expected to also double to 6 million a year in that time.

But there were signs of trouble. More so than at previous fairs, India’s plastics associations were asking for higher tariffs to protect themselves from imports. And some Indian government officials urged the industry to do more to respond to environmental concerns.

India’s industry has some well-known companies, like plastics maker Reliance Industries and industrial conglomerate Tata Group, maker of the ultra-budget Nano car.

But it also has a lot of small, undercapitalized companies, and its plastics consumption per capita is among the lowest in Asia — one-fifth of China’s and below most of Southeast Asia.

Plastics News China-based journalist Steve Toloken spent 5 days at Plastivision and filed this video report.