The U.S. plastics industry is continuing its long climb out of the depths of the great recession, with an expansion in 2011 expected to be followed by more growth in 2012, but looming threats and unanswered questions have created a market that plastics machinery executives contacted by PlasticsToday call "mixed and strange" with a general "uneasiness" about the future.
The U.S. plastics industry's total production expanded by 3.6% in 2011, with accelerated growth of 4-5% forecast in 2012. At the end of 2011, the plastics industry's capacity utilization was approaching 77%, with the expectation being that it will slowly, but steadily, eclipse 80% by the end of 2012. Those figures courtesy of the Society of the Plastics Industry's (SPI) fourth-quarter and full-year 2011 Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) report.
2012: So far, so good
Plastics machinery and auxiliary suppliers contacted by PlasticsToday reiterated the report's findings, describing a strong 2011 followed by good activity in the first half of 2012, but several did admit that potential fallout from Europe's debt crisis, plus the uncertainty that comes with a presidential election in the U.S., left them anxious about how 2012 might wrap up.