Mexico City — Mexico's plastics industry shrank 9 percent in 2020 and is in crisis mode, its leader said March 16.
"We have a tremendous shortage of PET," Aldimir Torres, president of national plastics industry association Anipac, told reporters in a webinar news conference.
He added that economic, social and health "crises" had impacted the industry dramatically. COVID-19 "has changed our lives," he said.
Mexico's plastics sector comprises 4,100 companies that employ a million people, according to Anipac (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico A.C.). It includes 3,580 processors, 165 distributors and 140 recyclers.
Hoping to revive the sector, trade show specialist Tarsus México will host about 350 companies from 20 countries at Plastimagen Light from March 22-26. The virtual event will include nine conferences and panel discussions.
Tony Radoszewski, president & CEO of the Plastics Industry Association in the United States, is scheduled to speak March 23.
At one point in 2020 Tarsus had been hoping to be open to in-person visits and fill 100-150 stands at Mexico City's World Trade Center, a figure based on surveys conducted during the pandemic. The unrelenting pandemic in Mexico put paid to that plan. The WTC will not now be used, a Tarsus spokeswoman said.
Much of the industry's polyethylene comes from Ethylene XXI in the state of Veracruz, owned and operated by Brazilian-Mexican joint venture Braskem Idesa S.A.P.I. (BI).
In early December, the government of populist president Andrés Manuel López Obrador stopped supplying natural gas to the facility in a dispute over two ethane gas supply contracts signed between BI and state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos in 2010.
The facility's ethane cracker, with a capacity of 1.05 million tons of ethylene a year, and three polyethylene plants, producing 1 million tons annually between them, were paralyzed.
The complex, which came on stream in 2016, resumed full operations in early March after the two parties agreed to modify the ethane supply contract.
By then leading independent polymer resins distributor Polímero y Materias Primas Internacionales SA de CV (Polymat) had warned the decision to cut off natural gas to Ethylene XXI would "seriously damage the economy of the entire southern region of Mexico and have repercussions at state, national and international level."
López Obrador's action against Braskem Idesa is one of many controversial moves affecting manufacturing and private investment made during his two years and three months in office.
Asked by Plastics News to comment on the impact the government's electricity generation and distribution reforms would have on the plastics industry, Torres did not answer directly but said: "We believe in our institutions."