For only the third time since the start of the industrial era, annual global plastic production fell in 2020, by 0.3%, due to the health crisis, the European association of plastics producers announced on Thursday.
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In Europe, where 55 million tonnes of new plastics left factories last year, the drop in production amounts to 5.1%, and the decline is even more pronounced in France, where production has fallen. by 11% in 2020, the PlasticsEurope association said on Thursday.
In France, the overall consumption of virgin plastic fell by 7.5% last year, more sharply than the European average (-4.7%) and than in Germany (-6.5%).
The automobile, which has experienced production stoppages, was the most affected sector, with an 18.1% drop in its plastic consumption in Europe, and 28% in France, according to the association.
On the whole planet, “
with 367 million tonnes of plastics produced in 2020 against 368 million tonnes in 2019, this is the third global decline since the post-war period, after that which occurred in 1973 at the time of the first oil shock, and that of 2008, during the subprime financial crisis,
”Eric Quenet, CEO of PlasticsEurope, told AFP.
15% of plastic is produced in Europe
The slowdown, "
a significant marker of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the global economy
", was mitigated by the continued growth in plastic production in China (+ 1% in 2020), according to the association.
China, which manufactured a quarter of the world's plastic in 2010, now supplies a third, after doubling its production (117 million tonnes in 2020 against 64 million tonnes in 2010). In recent years, the country has started to export PVC for construction and other basic plastics, but remains an importer of specialty plastics, especially for the automotive industry.
Europe (27 EU countries, with the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland), which produced 21% of the world's plastic in 2010 (56 million tonnes), now only produces 15% (55 million tonnes). Even if in terms of tonnage, North America has increased its volumes over the decade (70 million tonnes in 2020 against 53 million tonnes in 2010) with new polymer units whose competitiveness is based on the exploitation of shale gas , it only manages to maintain its rank, with 19% of world production in 2020 against 20% 10 years ago.