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Rapid recovery and talks of green manufacturing filled the year 2010
Source:    Author:Duan Qingsheng    Date:12.May.2011
Recovery of global economy

According to the data released by industrial associations of some countries/regions, the global economy is looking better for the plastics industry.

In the development of the global plastics and rubber industries, the plastics and rubber machinery of Europe obviously plays a great role. The European market of plastics and rubber machinery market is very crucial to the development status of the global industry.

The industrial report released by Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association of Germany (VDMA) last May shows that the plastics and rubber machinery manufacture industry of Germany will increase by 11% in 2010 and a little less in 2011, thanks to external demand especially from Asia. Thorsten Kuehmann, managing director of VDMA, pointed out that the current weak market and economic status, the risk of possible overheated economy of the emerging economies, including China and India, and the rising price of energy and raw materials, especially the price of crude oil maintaining at high level, will endanger recovery of economy. He also said that the economic turnaround nowadays was most attributive to financial factors, such as economic stimulus policy. On the other hand, the weak Euro may support the export of plastic and rubber industries to some extent and bring new opportunities, he said.

Last September, Ulrich Reifenhäuser, VDMA chairman, said with delight that nobody could have forecast that the orders of the industry in the first six months of 2010 would increase by 85% and created a new record. He said that there was no reason for not to be optimistic with such outstanding performance. The number of new orders increased quickly every month since September 2009, and more than double in July 2010.

Prior to the opening of K Exhibition last October, VDMA raised its annual forecast to 15% in view of the speed of industrial recovery and the demand in market, which was much higher than expected at the beginning of the year.

During K 2010, Bernhard Merki, president of EUROMAP, said that based on the rising demand for plastics and rubber equipment of all EUROMAP member countries, it is expected that the growth of 2010 would reach 10-15%.

EUROMAP introduced that the orders mainly came from Europe and Asia, especially the Chinese and Indian markets, while the demands from Brazil and Mexico were also quickly enhancing.

The annual growth rate expected by EUROMAP early last year was only 6%, but the annual growth rate might jump to 10-15% in view of the good market growth and EUROMAP further hoped that such good growth would maintain in the year 2011.

Besides the European market, the recovery of the US market was also strong. At the news conference held during K 2010, William R. Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI, briefed attendants about the development status of the plastic industry of the United States. The export of the plastic industry of the United States increased 32.4% during January -July 2010, while the import increased 21.4% year on year; its industrial trade maintained a stable growth and hit US$10 billion in July, exceeding the US$6.1 billion in 2009.

The feedback from the exhibitors of K 2010 also confirmed the turnaround trend of the market. According to the statistics released by the organizer, about three-fourth of the companies participating in the exhibition declared that they had signed contracts at K 2010 or had clear expectation for subsequent orders. 92% of the exhibitors confirmed that they would obtain subsequent orders.


Wide application of plastics improves our living
Chinese and Indian markets attracted more attention

From June to the end of 2010, various industry associations, leading suppliers of equipment and raw materials in different sectors often described the Asian market as the main growth driver, especially China and India markets. In fact, from the outbreak of the financial crisis to the turnaround of the global market, the high-speed development of the Chinese plastic processing market proved its importance.

Based on the statistical data of the Ministry of Statistics of China, the accumulative output of plastic products during January to October 2010 is 45.471 million tons, increasing 20.5% year-on-year and exceeding the total output of the previous year.

The Chinese plastics industry witnessed an increase of over 10% in 2009 compared with 2008. The accumulative output during January to November 2010 was 51.457 million tons, 20.9% higher than 2009.

The high-speed development of plastic market of China depends on the fast development of relevant industries. Automobile industry is one of the largest application markets of the plastics and rubber industries, and the automobiles were produced and sold 18.2647 million sets and 18.0619 million sets respectively in 2010, increasing 32.44% and 32.37% respectively year-on-year. Both the production and the sale created new records.

According to the analysis of Gu Xianghua, vice secretary general of China Automobile Association, four reasons supported the high-speed growth of the automobile industry of China in 2010: First, the macro-economy of China kept a fast and steady development. Second, the national policies promoted fast growth of automobile market. Third, the market potential was huge and the purchase capacity was going up. Fourth, industrialization and urbanization promoted consumption of automobiles. The fast development of the plastics and rubber industries of China is also relating to the above factors in fact.

While the global plastics and rubber industries are benefiting from the development of the Chinese market, the data of the plastic machinery industries of China in the first three quarters of 2010 exceeded the data of 2009, thanks to the policies of automobiles and home appliances sold to the countryside and old-for-new services, the rising demand of Chinese market, and the partial recovery of global market.

According to the data of the Association of Plastic Machinery Industry of China, during the first to third quarter of 2010, the total output value of the plastic machinery manufacture industry of China was RMB30.129 billion, increasing 72.93% year-on-year. Such growth was acquired in the event that the injection machine suppliers of China suffered anti-dumping from India in the early days of the year.

India is another huge consumption market attracting global attention. It has many alluring development opportunities. Ashok Goel, president of Indian Plastic Foundation, introduced in last K the present situation and the future of the Indian plastic industry under the theme of "India, with unlimited development opportunities", saying that the domestic plastic consumption of India would reach 10 million tons in 2012 and be doubled in 2020.

Industries predicted to be growing at high speed in the future include agriculture, packaging, automobile, construction, transportation, medical treatment, communication, aviation and space flight, consumables, etc. Ashok Goel said since 2007, the Indian government has provided more support for the industry and arranged a loose economic environment for its development, which will significantly improve expectation on the development of the industry.

Though the plastic consumption of India cannot match with that of China, the productivity of Indian plastic machinery can hardly meet the local demand. In addition, Brazil and Mexico are the fast developing countries and drawing global attention.


Major export destinations of global plastic machinery 2000-2009 (including 40 countries/regions)
Good future of green low-carbon technology

Plastics has become an essential material in people's daily life and the manufacturing industry after 100 years' development. It will play an even more important role in the tide of global low-carbon economic development.

Activities relating to "green manufacture" were held under the theme of "green manufacture for splendid future" in the 24th China International Exhibition on Plastics and Rubber Industries (CHINAPLAS 2010), in which six themed forums attracted 900 visitors, reflecting the influence of environmental and low-carbon subjects in the plastic industry. CHINAPLAS 2010 became a platform for suppliers to exhibit green low-carbon manufacture technologies. All of these pushed green concept of plastic industry to a new peak.

From new materials, processing technologies to final applications, the low-carbon concept has entered the whole industrial chain of the plastic processing industry. In the CHINAPLAS shows held within the last two years, energy saving technologies was undoubtedly the hotspot of global plastics and rubber market.

Taking injection machine technology as an example, servo motor was a major technology in CHINAPLAS 2009, but quite a few manufacturers launched the electric injection machines in CHINAPLAS 2010.

The international market witnessed the same development trend. For example, Husky first exhibited its electric injection system in K 2010, Billion Corporation of France obtained many benefits from developing electric injection machines during the period of financial crisis. Undoubtedly, energy saving technologies can best show the competitive power of the whole plastic industry. In recent years, so many energy saving technologies appeared in the market, including servo drive, electric injection machine, electromagnetic induction heating, infrared heating and various production units, which helped promote energy conservation and high efficiency.

The industries relating to energy saving and low carbon emission are also becoming the attention point of the plastic industry, such as solar energy, wind power, tidal energy, electric automobile, which are the important markets for plastic applications. Suppliers of raw materials and equipment, such as DuPont, Bayer, BASF, DOW, Breyer, Xinle Huabao and so on have developed their own solutions for solar energy applications.


Sustainability: Special polyurethane is used in modern refrigerators for energy saving (Image source: Bayer)
A sustainable future for plastics

It seems that the discussion about "knowledge of plastics" and "future of plastics" was globally highlighted in the past year. In the green forum held in CHINAPLAS 2010, for example, specialists from the Japan Plastics Industrial Association and VDMA shared their knowledge on the connection between recovery efficiency and properties of plastics. Besides, the China Promotion Association for Cooperation of Manufacturers, Colleges and Research Institutes and the China Association for Plastics Processing Industry jointly held a news conference on the "Correct Understanding and Use of One-time Foaming Plastic Tableware", declaring that the one-time foaming plastic tableware widely used in China was a typical green product.

About 300 domestic and overseas enterprises exchanged views on the subject of "Challenges and Responsibilities of Sustainable Development" in the 20th Asian Plastic Forum in September last year. Dr Wolfgang Siebourg, special project consultant of PlasticsEurope discussed challenges faced by the plastics industry, as well as innovative solutions to various social problems relating to plastics. Dr Wolfgang thought that the plastic industry faced a splendid future if existing problems were solved, such as the misuse of plastic bags.

PlasticsEurope issued a report during K about the development status of the European plastics industry together with relevant statistics and analysis. The report focused on design optimization, technical improvement, material development, consumer safety and energy efficiency. The combination of these five factors will be a reliable method for manufacturers and consumers to realize maximum resource conservation. Plastics will play a great role in energy conservation and climate change, the report indicated.

A forum, "Sustainable Development - Contributions of Plastic Industry", organized by the Association of International Chemical Manufacturers (AICM) and supported by the China Association for Plastic Processing Industry was held in December 2010 in Beijing. Pan Shijie, who acted as vice chairman of AICM Board of directors and supervisor of Asia - Pacific Safety, Health, Environment and Security of DuPont, pointed out that plastics was one of the recyclable materials with the highest resource efficiency and the widest application. We shall actively perform scientific management on the cycle life of plastics, strengthen recycling and utilization of the material, and rectify incorrect concepts on plastics in order to promote a healthy development of the plastic industry.

The British Plastic Foundation (BPF) exhibited its new book Sustainable Manufacture: Guide to Plastic Industry during K. The book is intended to provide the necessary systemic support for sustainable development of the plastic industry. The environmental impact arising from the broad applications of plastics put pressure on the industrial development.

For the industry's smooth development, questions being asked include: How to effectively reduce the harmful environmental impact of plastics; How to change people's thoughts about environmental pollution by plastics, and How to manage the use of plastic bags to meet the conservation needs.
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