The plastics industry as we know it started in the 1950s. Mass production has increased exponentially since then. For example, during the ’50s, the whole sector produced around 1.5 million tons of plastics yearly, but today the numbers go over 300 million tons per year.
The numbers are even higher when considering various materials made of polyacryl, polypropylene, polyamide, and polyethylene terephthalate. With the current growth rate, the production of plastic could exceed 2,000 million tons per year by 2050.
However, the current narrative is that plastics are harmful, and we’re moving away from them. That is a big misconception, and today we will present this industry more realistically.
What is plastic, and where does it “fit in” today?
Plastic is a durable, easily modified, cheap, and lightweight material. These characteristics have made plastic very popular. Today we use plastics daily with countless products made out of plastic. Some of the sectors that use plastics the most are:
- Automotive industry;
- Electronic industry;
- Household appliances;
- Health and safety;
There’s not a signle industry that doesn’t use any kind of plastics. Plastic has appealing characteristics, but products made of plastic also harm the environment. Plastic materials often end up far away from where they’re intended, and they can last for a long time in the environment due to their durability.
Low cost is also a significant issue as it makes no financial sense to invest in gathering these materials and recycling them. However, there has been considerable progress in this area. It’s estimated that up to 10% of plastic ends up in the oceans and seas.
How plastic is manufactured
Polymers are an essential part of plastic, and they are produced through the polymerization process using monomers. Monomers are building blocks serving as the foundation for polymers, and some of the most common types with applications in the plastics industry are:
- Vinyl chloride;
Most of these monomers come from fossil fuels, and around 5% of the global oil production is allocated for plastics manufacturing.
Besides fossil fuels, plastic is also produced from plant oils and other biomass. These plastics are called bioplastics, and they are still a tiny portion of the production.
Producing plastics also involves using different chemicals called solvents, catalysts, and initiators. The plastics industry is growing because of these ingredients’ availability and the wide range of machinery that automates the process. New companies often acquire used plastic machinery to lower their initial investment.
Why is the plastics industry vital for the economy?
Let’s take a look at the US plastics industry since it’s one of the leading economies in the world. The US plastics industry is the 8th largest industry, with over a million jobs and $432 billion worth of shipments. It’s one of the most stable industries in the US, and it was resilient even during the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plastic has grown due to the reliance of different industries on plastic products. New applications in the manufacturing sector are the most noticeable factors. However, this industry has also sparked the growth of chemical and mechanical recycling.
The global plastic market size was $593 billion in 2021, and at the current growth rate of 3.4%, it’s expected to reach a revenue of $750 billion in 2028. Many consumer products companies have started developing recycling facilities to address sustainability issues, likely encouraging future growth.
Why start a plastics business?
Here are the most notable reasons to start a plastics business today.
The first reason you should consider starting a business in the plastics industry is versatility. There are many different types of companies that operate in this large ecosystem. The plastics manufacturing sector alone offers many niches, including:
- Toy production;
- Plastic bags;
- Consumer appliances;
- Food packaging;
- Automotive production.
These are only some of the applications, and there are hundreds more. Entrepreneurs can always find a gap and demand in the market.
The global plastics recycling market is growing.
Recycling is no longer a taboo in business terms. Many companies are sprouting around the world. They are doing excellent work for the environment, but they are also financially sustainable. That means two important things:
- There’s room for starting a business in recycling;
- They are dealing with the most significant issues in the plastics industry.
All factors point to future growth.
Some voices encourage industries to move away from plastics, but the numbers show a completely different picture. Plastics are more in demand across various industries and sectors. It’s a healthy market, especially now that recycling has become more prominent.
The plastics industry is not taboo, and starting a business in plastics doesn’t mean your organization will hurt the environment. Of course, there’s much more to do for sustainability, but this sector still offers room to start a profitable business.
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