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Material shortages still hitting plastics converters

Europe – ‘Plastics processors in Europe are still suffering despite improvements in overall business conditions,’ according to Alexandre Dangis. And the head of the Brussels-based European Plastics Converters Association believes mounting raw material costs have the potential to slow the rate of recovery for Europe’s plastics processors in 2011.

‘For some plastics, we are facing price increases of up to 30% in the period November 2009 to November 2010,’ he says. ‘There are still widespread reports of material and additives shortages, and of processors not being able to get the material to enable them to deliver on their projects.’

A key background factor has been the higher number of dubious ‘force majeure’ declarations; once again, Mr Dangis has called on converters to issue legal challenges to some of these declarations at a national level. ‘We will certainly keep a very close eye on this development,’ he says. Meanwhile, the surge in demand from China is diverting more material to this part of the world, prompting Mr Dangis to suggest that ‘discontinuity’ of supply in Europe is likely to extend at least until the first quarter of 2011. Of the large volumes of plastics waste exported from Europe to the Far East, he also says:

‘One has to wonder if plastics recyclate will not be of a more strategic importance for European converters in the years to come.’ And Mr Dangis notes that politicians in Brussels will shortly announce resource efficiency plans for Europe, but he questions whether there is the political will to keep manufacturing in the EU. A solution must be found to ensure appropriate supplies of plastics raw material, additives and plastics waste, he suggests. It makes no sense from a sustainability point of view, he adds, to continue to increase and stimulate exports of Europe’s plastics waste which benefit business and employment in other parts of the world while hurting industry in Europe itself.

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