The Turkish plastics industry is right smack in the middle of a lot of action as global markets redefine themselves.
The country's traditional role as a bridge between Europe and Asia is only heightened by the fact that its plastics processing community is more developed than that of many of its neighbors in Eastern Europe or the Middle East. Turkish processing is growing at an annual rate of 15 percent per year, a rate three times that of its European neighbors, Turkish plastics official Barbaros Demirci said at TEMPI 08 in Las Vegas.
``Turkey has the possibility to be a strong player in plastics,'' Demirci said. ``We believe we can be the third-largest plastic industry among the European Union countries by 2014.''
Turkey's plastics processing capacity has more than tripled in the past six years, added Demirci, who is secretary general of the Turkish Plastics Manufacturers' Research, Development and Educational Foundation.
The market now includes 6,000 companies and employs 200,000. These firms almost all of which are classified as small to medium-sized businesses process almost 11 billion pounds of resin annually, largely in fibers, PVC profiles and biaxially oriented polypropylene film.
The nation also has attracted 128 joint ventures with foreign plastics firms, including 27 from Germany. Total processing sales hit the $15 billion mark in 2007 and per capita consumption within Turkey has increased to more than 130 pounds per year. The market also includes about 100 plastics machinery firms.
Plastics now contributes 3 percent of Turkey's gross domestic product and 30 percent of sales for its chemical industry. About 40 percent of Turkish processing sales go into the packaging market, while 22 percent ends up in construction. PP is the top resin used by Turkish processors, with a 34 percent market share. PVC comes in second at 22 percent. Turkish PVC demand is increasing by 15 percent annually, with PP growth right behind at 14 percent growth.
Turkey's demographics also are working in its favor, Demirci said. Its population of 70 million has an average age of 29, giving it Europe's fourth-largest labor force. The country has modernized through political and economic reforms and is in the process of joining the European Union, though full acceptance could take several more years, he said. The GDP has more than doubled in the past four years.
One area where Turkey's plastics market can improve is by lessening its reliance on imported resins, which currently make up more than 80 percent of material used by Turkish processors. The only resins made inside Turkey are PP, PVC and high and low density polyethylene.
Demirci said that the Turkish plastic industry ``needs to increase its technological presence.'' With this goal in mind, Turkish processors already have opened two vocational schools devoted to plastics processing.