China's plastic industry is in the midst of a “profound adjustment” from large-scale and high-speed growth to growth focused on quality, efficiency and environmental concerns, says the executive vice president of the China Plastics Processing Industry Association.
“The future development of this industry will be dependent on scientific and technical innovation and improvement,” Cao Jian wrote in statement prepared for Plastics News.
A long-term transition strategy was set forth at the Central Economic Working Conference held last month in Beijing, which set targets for the nation's next five-year plan (2016-2020).
As part of the transition, in 2015 the CPPIA will hold seminars on:
• Energy conservation and emissions reduction, with a special focus on the electricity consumption of single and twin-screw extruders.
• Solving life-cycle environmental problems in the production and recycling of artificial leather, laminated plastic film and volatile organic chemicals for color printing film.
• Making PVC production more environmental friendly, especially through replacing lead salt with calcium-zinc stabilizers.
Cao expects China's plastics industry to grow 6 to 8 percent in 2015. From January through November 2014, China produced 66.7 million metric tons of processed plastic products, an increase of 7.45 percent over the same period in 2013.
During the same time period, Chinese plastics revenues were up 9.64 percent to 1.84 trillion yuan (about $300 billion). Plastic exports grew 6.52 percent to $54.7 billion. Profit climbed 8.44 percent to $101 billion yuan (about $164 million).
Cao's responses echoed his forthright embrace of environmental concerns in an exclusive interview with Plastics News last month in Guangzhou.
Speaking through an interpreter at CPPIA's first-ever trade show, Cao said, “Companies must replace current additives with more eco-friendly additives.”
Cao lauded the “Green Fence,” a broad sweep of environmental and customs rules designed to make the recycling industry cleaner. Cao specifically cited the Green Fence's role in reducing the toxics in imported scrap plastic and forcing recyclers to clean up their waste water.
Cao added that the cost of retrofitting legacy equipment to make production more environmentally friendly puts older companies in a tough position.
Cao touted the reform being put in place under President Xi Jinping. “The government is helping businesses,” he said.
Rising labor costs is “a reasonable trend, because China is developing all the time.” Cao added that the higher costs are pushing companies to automate.
Since the middle of 2014, the price of oil has tumbled sharply, now hovering at less than $50 per barrel. “Some people think the drop [of the price of oil] is helping business. Others think that it will lead to a decline in sales volume,” Cao said.
His own view was more sanguine.
“[The price of oil] doesn't matter so much. What matters is if the products we make meet the customer's needs.”