Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Five Countries Your Company Should Be Paying More Attention To

In today’s interconnected global economy, there’s no such thing as a growing market that no one’s heard of yet. Information travels fast and export opportunities don’t stay secret for very long, but nonetheless, there are markets “where more attention needs to be paid,” according to IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh. Below are five that he thinks are worth highlighting for companies seeking export-driven growth.

Mumbai's CST (Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus) illuminated at night with streaks of vehicular traffic headlights in foreground and copy space

Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, India

1. India

“India is an economy whose growth rate certainly is holding up fairly well,” Behravesh said, noting that companies might consider placing more emphasis on India and less emphasis on China moving forward. “Sort of a rebalancing of interests, I guess, in favor of India, I would strongly recommend because India is going to be expanding fairly rapidly. It’s a smaller economy than China’s but it’s growing more rapidly.”


Hanoi, Vietnam

2. Vietnam

Similar to India, Vietnam presents another “not as big, but growing nicely” supplement to China’s volatility, according to Behravesh. It currently also happens to be one of the top export growth markets for the U.S. plastics industry, according to SPI.


Dhaka City Center, Bangladesh


Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy, Sri Lanka

3. Bangladesh and 4. Sri Lanka

Economies like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are poor but they’re coming up on the development scale,” Behravesh said. The Asian Development Bank estimated that Bangladesh could see 7.6-percent growth in 2016, while it also noted that in Sri Lanka, a January election resolved some uncertainty for investors and in 2016 the nation could see 7.0-percent growth.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

5. Indonesia

Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world. Economically it’s been relatively successful as well. “It’s been growing a fairly steady 4 or 5 percent,” Behravesh said. “That’s another one that I think companies should pay more attention to.”

For more global insights like these, join Behravesh for his presentation at the Global Plastics Summit, Oct. 28-30 in Chicago.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Recycling Rundown: Data that Shows Recycling is Still Economically Viable, Environmentally Beneficial and, Most Importantly, Growing

A bouquet of flowers made from recycled plastics.

A bouquet of flowers made from recycled plastics.

There’s a lot of data illustrating recycling’s economic viability, environmental bona fides and overall growth out there. We’ve collected some of it here for the benefit of naysayers and true believers alike. Below is a (not even close to comprehensive) rundown of facts about the importance of recycling. Did we miss any? Leave us a comment or send us a tweet and we’ll add it in!

Robin Wiener, president of the Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (via Recycling International): “Recycling accounts for nearly US$ 106 billion in annual economic activity and is responsible for 471,587 direct and indirect jobs in the USA, generating more than US$ 4.3 billion in state and local revenues annually and a further US$ 6.76 billion in federal taxes.”

Grist’s Ben Adler: “Commercial customers want [recycling] to lower their waste bill, whether it’s a restaurant, factory, or college,” says Chaz Miller, director of policy and advocacy for the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA). “They see the ability to sell their recyclables and they want the revenue. We do not see commercial clients backing away from recycling.”

Eco-Cycle Solutions: If everyone in the United States recycled only their plastic water bottles for one year (all 42.6 BILLION of them), that would offset the greenhouse gases generated by 1,065,000 round-trips between London and New York in coach every year.

The Closed Loop Fund: “According to the EPA, recycling rates doubled from 16 percent in 1990 to 28.5 percent and to 34 percent in 2010—a 40 percent increase every decade.”

From the American Chemistry Council’s Plastics Division: “According to, the average prices for recovered plastics as of June 2, 2015, were: HDPE natural plastic (milk jugs) $0.32 per pound, PET (beverage bottles) $0.14 per pound, and PP (deli and dairy tubs and lids) $0.14 per pound. During the same period, prices of mixed paper, newspaper and old corrugated containers (cardboard) ranged from $0.02 to $0.04 per pound.”

Ron Gonen, former Deputy Commissioner for Sanitation and Recycling in NYC:  “The economics of recycling for a City are simple. Send paper, metal, glass, plastics and food waste to landfill, the City is charged a fee….Send the same material to a local recycling facility or organics processor, the City avoids the landfill fee and sometimes also generates revenue.”

Recycle Bin

Rick Moore, executive director of the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR): “Even with low plastic resin prices, use of recycled PET in the U.S. is at an all-time high.”

There is a paradigm shift happening in waste management.  We are no longer just talking about recycling; rather, we’re having a broader conversation about sustainable materials management, and taking a bigger systems approach. There are both measurable and immeasurable benefits of recycling in the big picture of sustainable materials management and overall lifecycle impacts.

Send us a comment or tweet us at @SPI_4_Plastics if you’d like to contribute additional facts about the benefits or importance of recycling.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Plastics Enhance Delivery of Medical Care

The plastics industry is positioned to play a significant role in the healthcare and medical device space as the demand for services and single-use products grows in conjunction with the graying population, a study released by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association said. In its report, “Plastics Market Watch: Healthcare & Medical Devices,” SPI discusses advances in plastics that have enabled the material to gradually displace traditional medical devices made of metal, ceramics and other substances.Market Watch 2

Due to plastics’ extraordinary versatility and the constant development of new blends, it seems extremely unlikely that plastics will be replaced by another material, at least not in the foreseeable future. The change now underway is exciting and foretells longer and healthier lives for humanity – and new applications for plastics.

“Increasing reliance on plastics has generated remarkable breakthroughs in technology that not only enhance delivery of medical care but also provide increased usage of plastics,” William R. Carteaux, SPI’s president and CEO, said. “This has been, and continues to be, a win-win for the plastics and healthcare industries.”

Using this as a backdrop, the report draws on the work of Ken Gronbach, a multi-generational marketing expert and author of “The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Storm,” to explain the future market and the population that’s driving it.

Gronbach said the world’s population is setting up healthcare’s perfect storm. “There will be a collision of the largest generations ever to become elderly with the age sector that demands the most healthcare services. In many cases, worldwide the number of 70-plus year old people will double. When a market doubles in demographic size, the demand for products and services related to that market more than doubles – a phenomenon called ‘the multiplier effect,’” he said.

All of the critical data – soaring populations, rising middle classes, aging population, advances in medical technologies – point to an ever stronger market for medical devices which today are largely comprised of plastics.  In earlier years, the growth of plastics in healthcare, particularly medical devices, came largely from material substitution, but that transition has been accomplished. Now the growth of the medical device market is almost synonymous with rising demand for plastics, or so it would seem. The shift to non-invasive medical protocols in particular will reduce the demand for many plastic basics of medical care.

For equipment manufacturers, the changing face of modern medicine means smaller equipment, but that will not directly impinge on plastics. Resin suppliers will not see much change because not a huge amount of resin goes into medical equipment. The market for plastics in medical devices is stable and growing, but producers must monitor the market carefully, anticipate changes coming down the road and be prepared to meet them. They must also keep tabs on the regulatory landscape for one can never be sure which way the political fortunes will blow in response to inflammatory news stories or consumer complaints.

Major shifts in the provision and funding of healthcare in this country will drive increased focus on reducing costs at all levels of the medical care industry, and a series of breakthroughs in medical science promise a variety of less physically intrusive medical therapies that will reduce the need for disposable medical devices, which are largely composed of plastics. In the distant future, these forces will to some extent counter the generally positive trajectory for use of plastics in medical devices. But for the foreseeable future, the role of plastics in modern medicine is dominant and likely to remain so.

SPI plans to conduct presentations and webinars in conjunction with this report to discuss our findings, and hope that these will provide important food for thought, whether you are an equipment manufacturer, materials supplier, processor, recycler or brand owner. Future reports issued later this year will focus on Plastics in Packaging, and Plastics in Building & Construction. “Plastics Market Watch: Automotive & Transportation” may be accessed by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

IHS Economist: Patience Key to Emerging Market Success

Nariman Behravesh, IHS’ chief economist, doesn’t mince words about where companies can expect to find growth in the coming years, or even decades. “The emerging market is still the future,” he said.

Nariman Behravesh, IHS Chief Economist

Nariman Behravesh, IHS Chief Economist

Lately, however, the economies that comprise what’s considered the emerging market have looked a little worse for wear, rattling investors and making exporters anxious. “The outlook for the emerging world is shaky,” Behravesh said. “Commodity prices and export revenues are hurting, and separately both their stock markets and currencies are getting hit pretty badly.” This has created a situation where finances have become much more problematic for the region; credit conditions have tightened, adding another hurdle that these economies will have to vault over on their way to relative stability.

“Over the last four years there’s been a significant deceleration in emerging market growth. They’re growing at about half the rate they were four years ago,” Behravesh said. “What you’re seeing in the developed world—the U.S., Europe, Japan—is just a very gradual acceleration of growth, so that’s not where the threat is coming from; the threat is from the emerging markets.”

Despite the risks, according to Behravesh, it’s important to differentiate between short-term volatility and long-term growth prospects. “The emerging market is going through a process of catching up with the developed economy,” he said. “For them to realize that future, it’s going to take a while longer. Companies that want to do business in the emerging world and make that a part of their growth strategy will have to be patient because it’s going to take a while.”

“This has to be a long-term strategy. This is not a short-term strategy for growth,” Behravesh added.

For the short-term what companies are doing to hedge their bets is bringing business back to where growth is fastest, namely Europe and particularly the U.S. “That’s what we’re seeing now,” Behravesh said, noting that companies shouldn’t expect this reshoring of business back to familiar shores to carry on in perpetuity.

“This is temporary,” Behravesh said. “The question is how temporary.”

For more insights from Behravesh and a host of other plastics and petrochemical industry experts, register today for the Global Plastics Summit, Oct. 28-30 in Chicago.


Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Plastics Reaches Out on Manufacturing Day 2015

The skills gap is a challenge facing manufacturing, and this year the plastics industry opened its doors and made its innovative voice heard to inspire the next generation of manufacturing all-stars to remember that creating things is always cool.

Toshiba Machine

Toshiba Machine

This year was the most plastics-centric Manufacturing Day ever. 35 plastics facilities hosted tours and educational events across SPI’s four regions. More than 600 people passed through the facilities of the Rodon Group, AMA Plastics, Parkinson Technologies, Inc., Toshiba Machine, Yushin America, Wittmann-Battenfeld and MR Mold.  Attendees ranged from young professionals and job seekers to school-age children who got an early chance to see what a career in manufacturing looks like in today’s world.

The Rodon Group

The Rodon Group

For more photos, visit SPI’s Facebook Page here.