Turkey is spending 70 million Turkish lira ($23.3 million) to set up a plastics industry research and development center to raise the competitiveness of its plastics products manufacturing and act as a check against imports of “poor quality” plastics.
The Oct. 3 announcement from Turkey's Pagev plastics industry trade association said the project, done in connection with the country's Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology, would take four years to complete.
The Istanbul-based association said the center, called the Pagev Plastics Center of Excellence, “will encourage scientific research with traceable objectives and a high potential for commercialization in order to accelerate the growth of the plastics industry.”
“Turkey stands below the average in terms of export of plastic products with added value in the world,” Pagev said.
The association said Turkey's plastics products manufacturing industry is the second-largest in Europe, behind Germany, but adds relatively little value in its plastics processing industry compared other countries.
Turkey's plastics product industry has a unit value of its $2.8 per kilogram for its exports of finished plastics goods, well below the average of $5.3 per kilogram for the top 10 exporting countries, Pagev said.
The industry wants to raise that to $4 per kilo, said Yavuz Eroglu, chairman of Pagev, the Turkish Plastics Industry Foundation.
“This Center of Excellence will cooperate with universities, industry and community to constitute a base for R&D, product development and design within the industry,” said Faruk Ozlu, the country's minister of science, industry and technology, in the statement.
The 37,000 square foot center will also provide certifications, laboratory services, testing and consultations.
Ozlu echoed Pagev's concern that Turkey's industry adds relatively little value in its manufacturing.
“We signed this memorandum of understanding to change the picture,” he said. “R&D projects that small-sized companies cannot carry out with their current level of knowledge and technology will be run in cooperation in this center. This center will make high-quality and high added-value production in [the] plastics industry possible.”
He also said Turkey's plastics industry also suffers because it must import 80 to 90 percent of its resin.
Pagev's statement also said that the center would perform tests on imported plastics “before they are admitted through customs, which will prevent non-standard products of poor quality from entering the market.”
Eroglu said in an email that the center would test both resin and product imports, and noted that the existing labs used by customs officials lack capacity: “We will be a customs approved test center and they will outsource some of their business to us.”
As examples of products that could be tested, he cited toys from China using poor quality recycled material, substandard polyethylene grades for pipe or resins that are not suitable for food packaging.
Eroglu said Turkey's industry is the sixth-largest globally, with 8.6 million tons of production in 2015, a 3.2 percent increase over 2014. It said 7.6 million tons of that was used domestically.