In a wide-ranging news conference at K 2022, the Plastics Industry Association, one of the big U.S. trade groups, talked economic data, new leadership in the organization and plans for its next NPE show.
The Washington-based association released a summary of its annual "Global Trends" economic report at the K 2022 show. The numbers were skewed by inflation, but the group said its data showed some positives in global trade trends, with volumes in 2021 returning from a 2020 coronavirus drop-off.
"2022 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for the plastics industry," said Perc Pineda, chief economist for the association. "It's 2023 that's clouding the amount of uncertainty because of the global phenomenon of higher inflation, higher interest rates and higher energy prices."
European plastics associations at K 2022 have said repeatedly at the fair that higher energy prices in Europe, related in part to fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war, are making Europe's plastics industry less competitive.
Pineda said that could be an opportunity for the American industry to export more to Europe, but he noted that the U.S. producers are hurt by the strong U.S. dollar.
"Absolutely there is opportunity to export more to other countries, particularly into Europe," Pineda said. "The hurdle at the moment is really the strengthening of the U.S. dollar.
"If you take that out of the equation, the rest of the world will actually be much, much higher," he said.
Pineda also said that from the group's economic data, it did not appear that increased regulation of plastics had lowered plastics consumption in the United States.