The plastics and chemicals sectors combined represent about 10 percent of total Australian manufacturing activity, according to the country's peak industry body, the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association.
Annual turnover for both sectors combined is about US$35.8 billion and wages and salaries about $5.2 billion.
Melbourne-based PACIA's annual recycling survey shows the Australian plastics industry converted 3.31 billion pounds of polymers in the 2009-10 financial year.
Medium- to long-term, durable products in service for more than 50 years — including high-security banknotes, rainwater tanks, lightweight automotive components, cool-room insulation, underground water pipes and electrical cables — were 62 percent of that total. Shorter life-cycle products — like crop films for improved food production, packaging to extend products' shelf life, blood bags and other medical devices — represented 38 percent.
PACIA President Ross McCann said the trade group aims to highlight the importance of the Australian chemicals and plastics industry and “ensure its significant contribution is properly recognized by government, the media and the community.”
PACIA wants to raise awareness of Australia's third-largest manufacturing industry, which employs 83,000 Australians, many in small to medium-sized enterprises, said McCann, who is also executive chairman of Qenos Pty. Ltd., the country's sole manufacturer and a leading supplier of polyethylene and other resins.
“We have been promoting the industry as central to the Australian economy and supply chain, given that the industry's outputs feed directly into almost every other sector of the economy,” he said.
Melbourne-based Qenos is a subsidiary of China National Bluestar (Group) Co. Ltd., a joint venture of China National Chemical Corp. and U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group LP.