It is now almost ten months since the health crisis of the COVID-19 began. Ten months during which all sectors have been affected, to a greater or lesser extent. During all this time, the plastics industry has played a key role in using its resources and capabilities to fight against the pandemic, supplying different sectors such as the medical-hospital and food sectors.


Nevertheless, 2020 has been a year of continuously facing the consequences of the pandemic. As a new year begins, the focus is on one particular aspect: recovery. However, to do so, we must take stock of how and to what extent the coronavirus has influenced the situation.


The plastics sector compromises over 3,000 companies, 98% of which are SMEs, according to EsPlasticos. This industry generates more than 93,000 direct jobs in Spain, a figure that rises to 255,000 if indirect and induced jobs are included. However, so far this year, this sector shows an average rate of -9.8%, as stated in the latest publication of the Índice de Producción Industrial (Industrial Production Index – IPI) as of the month of October. So, how has COVID-19 affected this sector?


Loss of employment and decreased production


Data shows a clear impact in terms of employment. 33% percent of the companies surveyed by EsPlasticos mention a reduction of their workforce and, additionally, 33% consider that the number of employees will be lower in the mid to long term. The industry is heavily dependent on imports and exports, which have also significantly dropped in 40% of companies.


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As a result, the output of companies in the plastics industry has also decreased, as mentioned by 56.3% of those surveyed. By sector, those most affected are:


  • Automotive: 80% of cases
  • Agriculture: 67%
  • Construction: 65%
  • Packaging: 47%.


What measures have companies put in place?


Companies involved in the plastics sector have had to make a number of decisions to deal with the pandemic and its consequences. Naturally, this has had an impact on the workforce. Specifically, 42% of the staff  has been affected, according to the survey ‘Afectación de la COVID-19 en el sector del plástico’ (‘Effects of the COVID-19 in the plastics sector), carried out by the Spanish Plastics Centre. The main measures include the following:


  • Cancel trips: 30% of the companies
  • Managing ERTEs (temporary employment restructuring): 20%
  • Access to ICO loans: 17%
  • Teleworking: 10%
  • No action: 8%


This has had economic consequences for these companies. According to the same survey, 45% of respondents say that they will not meet the budget, compared to 10% who say that they will perform better than budgeted, 24% believe that it will achieve it and 22% that it will not, but that it will be close. Also, and according to the EsPlasticos survey, 75% of companies believe that their turnover will decrease due to the COVID-19, of which almost 24% predict that the drop will be between 30% and 80%.


Other articles of interest: The UN recommends the tourism sector to fight against the plastic pollution due to COVID-19