In the second half of the 20th century, plastic became one of the most important materials used economy-wide. Today, plastic are increasingly used in various sectors and are present in all aspects of everyday life: from transportation to constructions, telecommunications, consumer goods, food products and health care.
The plastic production world figures between 1950 and 2012 show that it witnessed an average increase rate of 8.7%.
The statistical data on the consumption of plastics in Europe, divided per various sectors, shows that packaging was the most important destination of plastics at the end of 2012 (39.4%), followed by constructions (20.3%).
The financial recession continued to manifest itself in Romania, with 3285 registered companies in the field of plastic and rubber in 2013 (a decrease by 2.2% from 2012, when only 3360 companies were registered). More than 85% of these are still active in this sector.
As regards the average number of employees in this sector, it increased from 41.7 thousand in December 2012 to 43 thousand in December 2013 (an increase of 1.6 thousand).
The relatively modest increase in 2013 and 2012 compared with 2011 is mainly due to the constant recession in South Europe countries, and to significant production cuts, which lead to a GDP contraction by 0.3% in the EU economy.
Moreover, the industry competition is constantly rising, the European industry being faced with prevalent massive imports from Asia and especially China.
These market changes, combined with the strict European regulations, are a challenge to the plastic industry’s capacity to remain competitive.
Some of the 2011-2013 statistical data on:
- Production of plastics in Romania:
- 2011: 167 kto (final data);
- 2012: 162 kto (semi-final data);
- 2013 (Jan-Nov): 72 kto (provisional data).
The data on the actual production (domestic consumption + export) includes the following two categories:
- tubing, pipes and rigid hoses made of ethylene polymers and vinyl chloride polymers
- bags of ethylene polymers
- bags of polypropylene
- boxes, crates, racks and similar items made of polyethylene, for the transport and packaging of goods (excluding bottle cases)
- cans, bottles, flasks and similar items of polyethylene, for the transport or packaging of goods, with capacities ≤2 litres and > 2 litres
- doors, windows and their frames and sills of vinyl polychloride doors
- glassware and kitchenware made of propylene polymers.
- Production of plastics in primary shapes in Romania:
- 2011: 188 kto (final data);
- 2012: 143 kto (semi-final data);
- 2013: 144.65 kto (provisional data).
The data on the actual production (domestic consumption+export) refer to: polypropylene, high and low density polyethylene, polyurethane foam.
- International sales of plastics and rubber
In 2013, Romania exported plastics, rubber and related items in total amount of 2797.3 million Euro, 236.7 million more than the previous year (+9.2%). The top 5 exporting countries – EU members is: Germany, Hungary, Italy, France, Bulgaria.
The main products exported by Romania in 2013 were:
- polymer sacks and bags;
- propylene polymers sacks and bags;
- ethylene polymers sacks and bags;
- cans, bottles, flasks and similar items of polyethylene and PVC;
- boxes, crates, racks and similar items made of polyethylene;
- PVC doors, windows and their frames;
- other plastic items (names according to NACE classification).
The imports of plastics, rubber and related items exceeded 4012 million Euro in 2013, a 2.9% increase from 2012. The top 5 importing countries – EU members is: Germany, Italy, Hungary, France, Poland.
Against this background, Romania’s trade deficit in plastics, rubber and related items was 1052 million Euro in 2013, down from 1351 million in 2012.
As compared to the previous year, most of the exported product groups yielded additional revenue. The European Union was Romania’s main partner of the plastics and rubber trade, The European union was the main partner in Romania’s trade with plastics and rubber: the EU deliveries amounted to 2209.7 million Euro, while purchases from EU members reached 3303.6 million Euro.
The exports of plastics in primary forms dropped by 3.6% between January 1st and December 31st December in the same period of 2012.
As regards the import of plastics in primary forms, they increased by 5.5% (in the period January 1st – December 31st 2013, as compared to the same period of 2012).
The drop in the export of plastics in primary forms is mainly due to the closing down of the PVC section – raw material at the OLTCHIM SA plant. It is well known that this plant exported approx. 80% of the total PVC production to Central, Eastern and Western European countries, and in America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Despite the global market contractions during the recession period, companies in this sector understood that in order to remain competitive on the internal market and to adapt to global trends, they had to invest in retooling and increase the production capacity.
Thus, various production capacities were commissioned and major investments were carried out in 2012-2013, such as purchases, from own funds or various other funding sources, of plastic processing machines such as:
- state of the art control equipment for injection moulding machines (CHORUS SA Bucharest);
- special sheet co-extruder, printing machines, equipments and accessories, bag manufacturing machines (PLASTICA SA Satu Mare);
- extruder for the blowing of canister shells (MUNPLAST SA Bucharest);
- plant for the recycling and mixing of plastics (AECTRA SRL Bucharest);
- extrusion and looms for polypropylene fabrics (ROMTEXTIL SA Constan]a);
- welding machines for polyethylene fabrics (PLASROM SRL Buftea).
These are just a few examples aimed at the continued technological improvement of the companies in this sector, and increase of performance and product quality.
Source: PlasticsEurope/Italy, the National Institute of Statistics/Romania; RISCO/Romania
Daniela Cosmoiu is Executive Director, Aspaplast ; RALUCA NICOLAU is Executive Assistant, Aspaplast