On the positive side, the groups pointed to increases in both domestic and export markets.
Amaplast said that compared with the very difficult first half of 2020, orders for its member companies rose 46 percent from January to June this year and exports were up by 25 percent.
The Italian association said it was "driven by double-digit growth in sales to primary destination markets such as the United States, Germany, China and Poland."
"Strong recovery is also seen in the domestic market, with greater propensity for investment deriving from the incentives in the government's industrial plans," the Italian group said. "The outlook for the upcoming months is marked by optimism bolstered by the positive signals arriving from various markets and applications."
It said the impact of the pandemic was not as bad as the association had feared in the darkest moments of the public health crisis.
"The final balance of the difficult year of the pandemic was less negative than might have been expected, thanks to the accelerating recovery in the last quarter," Amaplast said.
Similarly, Germany's VDMA pointed to a strong end to 2020 and a solid early period in 2021, pushed by demand for plastics equipment in packaging, medical automotive and construction markets.
Overall sales for 2020 were 12 percent below 2019 levels, but new business meant that order books in 2020 were stronger, the association said in a June report.
"All this resulted in a 7 percent increase in incoming orders compared to 2019, making plastics and rubber machinery manufacturing one of the few machinery sectors to close out 2020 with fuller order books than in 2019," said Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of the rubber and plastics machinery group within VDMA. "Incoming orders showed a rapid increase from the summer onwards."
Like the Italians, the German industry, Europe's largest for manufacturing plastics machinery, is heavily dependent on exports.
It similarly pointed to strong markets in the United States and China as "driving the upswing."
The U.S. reclaimed its spot as the top export destination for German machinery, VDMA said.
Overall, it said exports dropped 11 percent in 2020, but plastics and rubber machinery deliveries rose eight percent to the United States, where VDMA said "the investment situation proved to be very robust."
For China, the Germans said that while exports to Asia's largest economy dropped 3 percent, local demand there remained strong and the factories of German companies in China were "operating at full speed."
"All in all, this means that China remains the most important sales market for German plastics and rubber machinery," VDMA said.
In June, the German association said it expected a sales increase of at least 10 percent for its plastics and rubber machinery companies in 2021 and suggested some companies could "expect record results this year."