The shortages are caused by the improving global economy in combination with the export of plastics from Europe to Asia and North America. There are also logistical problems due to a shortage of containers heading to Europe and reduced production of plastics in the US. Furthermore, the demand for certain raw materials for COVID-19 protective articles is extremely high.
In addition, there are many force majeure notices. This assumes a situation of force majeure on the part of the raw material supplier. Sector organisations NRK and EuPC (European Plastics Converters) are critical about this; they find it unclear whether there is actually a force majeure situation.
The situation is causing serious problems for manufacturers of rubber and plastic (end) products and their customers, not only because up to 70% of the cost price is determined by the raw materials, but also because manufacturers are sometimes unable to deliver their end products on time to customers in end markets such as construction & infra, the packaging industry and automotive and machinery (b2b). This leads to production problems further down the chain.
Europe is a net importer of rubber and synthetic raw materials and therefore vulnerable to market disruptions. NRK therefore advises its member companies to use recyclate for their products wherever possible. Recyclate is increasingly a suitable alternative to the use of virgin plastics, and recyclers are in fact struggling with surpluses.