Can you imagine a sustainable plastics system that meets societal demands, supports critical sectors and remains a strategic asset for Europe? We can. Our vision is for plastics in Europe to be circular and have net-zero emissions by 2050. Plastics Europe and its members share society’s concerns about our industry’s contribution to plastic waste, climate change, and the safe use of plastic. That’s why we are working towards #ChangingPlasticsforGood. 

Understanding our plastics system matters

We cannot transform the system alone. That’s why we are working to strengthen collaboration with our value-chain partners and policymakers. The European plastics system is made up of many interconnected sectors, from the production of raw materials to the end-of-life treatment of plastic products, making it impossible for one sector to achieve this vision independently. Understanding the plastics system’s function, structure, and competitive position will help all stakeholders create effective and collaborative policies to transition to a sustainable plastics system. 

Manufacturers make plastic resins from raw materials. These resins are the building blocks for all plastic products. Manufacturers are represented by Plastics Europe.

Converters transform resins into usable plastic products and components, like medical supplies and household items.

Brands integrate plastic parts into finished goods across various industries, including automotive, construction, and consumer goods.  

Waste Management Companies handle the end-of-life of plastic products through collection, sorting, recycling, landfilling, and incineration.

Recyclers process plastic waste into recycled resins for new products, involving sorting, cleaning, shredding, and reprocessing.

Strategic Importance of the Plastics Industry in

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How important are plastics to Europe?

The plastics system helps to boost Europe’s economy. In 2022, the European plastics system employed over 1.5 million people in the EU, spanned 52,000 companies and had a turnover of over €400 billion. European plastics manufacturers contributed around 130,000 jobs across 2,248 companies and a turnover of over €118 billion to that total.

The competitiveness challenge

Our journey towards circular plastics is gaining momentum, as evidenced by the +70% increase in recycled content in 2022 compared to 2018.

However, despite these advancements, Europe’s share of global plastics production has declined from 22% in 2006 to 14% in 2022. This shift underscores the challenges we face yet also highlights our resilience: while overall plastics production decreased by more than 5%, the production of circular plastics surged by over 30%. This demonstrates our unwavering commitment to innovation and sustainability in the plastics industry.

Understanding and addressing competitiveness challenges is crucial for shaping a sustainable future for the European plastics system.  

Our Vision for a Sustainable Plastics System

Plastics Europe and its members are committed to transitioning from a linear to a circular economy, where all plastics are designed, produced, used, reused, and recycled. Our Plastics Transition Roadmap outlines the path to achieving circularity and net-zero emissions by 2050, focusing on three strategic pillars:

The Plastics Transition

Discover The Plastics Transition Roadmap and join us in our journey towards a sustainable future. By collaborating across the value chain, we can achieve lasting positive change and ensure the European plastics industry remains a strategic asset for generations to come.

About Plastics Europe

Plastics Europe is the pan-European association of plastics manufacturers, representing close to 100 members producing over 90% of all polymers across Europe. For over 100 years, science and innovation have been at the core of our industry. We are committed to openly engaging with stakeholders and delivering safe, circular, and sustainable solutions.