Business booming for plastic giants as change beckons. Plastic is the worst enemy of environmental campaigners, but people around the world use mountains of plastic, every day and business is booming for manufacturers.

Much to the chagrin of activists, an increasingly restrictive regulatory environment appears to have put dent in the industry's power so far.

That is changing,  however, and plastic giants are starting to adapt.

From 2006 to 2016, global plastic output rose from 245 million to 348 million tonnes, according to the Plastics Europe trade association. Production rose by 3.9 percent in 2017. In 2016 the growth rate stood at 4.0 percent, and in 2015 at  3.5 percent.

Demands for thermoplastics alone - which include the most common kinds of plastic, such as PET used in water bottles, polypropylene, polyethylene and PVC - has soared by 4.7 percent yearly from 1990 to 2017.

Is this going to continue in the coming years? We can assume it will, "said Herve Miller, technical and regulatory affairs manager at PlasticsEurope.

"The reasons why plastic [production is] growing worldwide, are not just going to go away all at once," he added.

The growth of plastics industry goes hand-in-hand with economic development, Miller said.

The more an economy grows, the more plastic is used in construction, infrastructural development, electrical and electronic industries, and transport.

Single-use plastic packaging - the nemesis of environmental activities - is also in strong demand in developing countries.

China leads the pack

Even in Europe, where  anti-plastics campaigning has been especially vigorous, packaging accounts for 40 percent of consumption.

But the world's leading producer of plastics is China. Today it holds a whopping  29 percent of the market share, up from 15 percent just a decade ago.

European, US and Japanese manufacturers have meanwhile seen their market share shrink.

Where Western producers are doing especially well in the development of so-called specialty plastics used in the construction, automobile, medical and other industries/.


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