Thursday 23rd of June 2016, the date where the residents of Britain voted to leave the EU, ultimately beginning the process of Brexit. After the public voted and the decision was made, a question had been raised by many; how will this affect the economy?
The UK plastics industry, which began in the 19th century, has evolved into a globally leading market always at the forefront of sector innovation and technology. As you may imagine, being a market leader brings with it an incredible importance to the British economy. The British Plastics Federation (BPF) analysed this importance and provided a much-needed deeper insight.
According to the BPF, in 2015, there were 3.3 million tonnes of plastic processed, and 1.7 million tons of plastic produced in the UK. In order to complete this work 166 thousand people are employed within the UK plastics industry. In fact, this figure is more than the number of employees working within the pharmaceutical, glass, paper, nuclear and steel industries combined, and it’s only second to food and drinks manufacturing. The UK plastic industry turnover, in 2017, was £25.5 billion and processor sales of £13.2 billion. To find out more about the industry figures released by the BPF go to: http://www.bpf.co.uk/Industry/Default.aspx.
What’s made clear by the figures released from the BPF is how important the plastics industry truly is to the UK economy. In order for the members of the UK plastics industry to have their voices heard, the BPF have created the ‘Brexit Taskforce’. The task-force is headed by Mike Boswell, former president of the BPF, and other members include a collection of figures from the UK plastics industry.
The task-force has set four main targets for the Brexit period which are;
- Free access to the single market – The EU is the UK’s single most important trading partner for plastics materials and products. Maintaining easy access is strategically important for the UK plastics industry.
- Access to skills – The UK plastics industry suffers from a severe skills shortage. It needs immediate assurance that existing EU workers in the plastics industry can stay and that companies will be able to access skilled workers in the future.
- Maintaining and developing legislation compatible with the EU – The UK plastics industry is heavily shaped by EU legislation. In order to maintain cost-effective access to the single market, regulatory equivalence between the UK and the EU is highly important.
- Support for innovation and overseas business development – The UK plastics industry would like to see increased support for innovation and funding for overseas business development, as well as incentives for reshoring, to help keep the UK at the forefront of the global plastics industry.
At the moment, this is all speculative with no major decisions having been made. It is difficult to say what the final outcome of Brexit will be and how it will affect the UK plastics industry. Through networks such as the BPF, companies will be able to help support each other. If you have any questions or need any support please visit: http://www.bpf.co.uk/eu/industry-priorities.aspx for more information.
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