Last Modified: 22nd October 2012
“Plastics companies must look at export opportunities outside of Europe’’, said Philip Watkins, President of the British Plastics Federation, at the organisation’s 79th Annual Dinner in London on October 18th.’’Last year the BPF took YOUR plastics message to trade fairs in India, China, Turkey and Poland.” he added.
In pointing out that for the first time in its history the UK’s Trade Deficit on Goods hit £100bn.last year he criticised the severe cutback in Government financial support for exporting. “The funding for both companies and indeed ourselves has been shrinking for some years. The UKTI must restore and increase grant aid and be a lot faster in approving applications.”
Mr Watkins highlighted the substantial use of Plastics in the London Olympics. He said “I encourage our members to build on their success in 2012 and go and win new contracts in Brazil for 2016.”
Mr Watkins highlighted the progress made under his Presidential theme “Our Sustainable Plastics Industry: A Strategic Asset in our Manufacturing Economy.”
On the BPF discussion document published in April Mr Watkins said “I am pleased to say that we have met so far Directors of three Banks, the Director-General of the CBI and, through our member companies ten MPs. There are many more such meetings to come. Properly nurtured our plastics versatility and innovation can benefit the economy in job creation and exports.”
Mr Watkins welcomed Dr Vince Cable MP the BIS Secretary of State’s announcement that a “Bank for Business” will be created but had some reservations: “I do wonder whether only £1bn. of public funds, leveraged to £10bn. of loans, will really have much effect. However, if it is genuinely focussed on SMEs then maybe it could make a difference and we plan to write to Government with our ideas for how the Bank for Business can help UK manufacturing.”
Raw Materials and Energy
On raw materials availability and cost Mr Watkins said: “The BPF is concerned at the long term availability in Europe of raw materials and additives and we have this year, with a large number of other industry organisations called on Government to strengthen its Resource Security Action Plan and create an Office for Resource Management.”
With 20% of the UK’s power generating capacity closing down in the next decade and OFGEM warning of power supplies not meeting demand in the Winter of 2015-16. Mr Watkins said:
“Every month lost with no new power capacity brings the brown outs closer. Two of three energy giants who were to have built a dozen new nuclear reactors in Britain have pulled out. The Chief Executive of EDF once promised that in 2017 our Christmas turkeys would be cooked with the aid of power from the first new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. This turkey is now at least three years behind schedule.”
“The BPF will keep up the pressure on Government to act faster but we can help ourselves by pressing for a lot more Energy from Waste plants where unrecyclable waste can provide 11% of our power needs.”
But the Plastics Industry is substantially reducing its use of power:
Mr Watkins said: “I’m very pleased to tell you of some substantial achievements in reducing energy usage in our industry through our Climate Change Agreement. From its start in 2009 we have saved 400,000 tonnes of CO2 and using Avogadro’s Hypothesis we can calculate that this represents a volume equivalent to 178 Wembley Stadiums.”
Mr Watkins was critical of DEFRA’s proposed targets for plastic packaging recycling “DEFRA have proposed impossible targets, with the overall target in 2012 of 23.7% recycling rising by 5% a year to 42% in 2017. Only two English Councils out of 388 collect enough plastics to meet DEFRA’s recycling targets and the extra cost for industry will be £70 million, undermining our plastic packaging manufacturers’ competitiveness. Let’s not forget that iconic British product HP Sauce is now made and packed in Spain and the Netherlands – not here.”
Ending on a high note the President announced that next year the BPF would be celebrating its 80th Anniversary “as the world’s first plastics organisation founded in 1933 – the same year Polyethylene was discovered.”
Amongst the special Anniversary events will be a major one day Conference in Manchester on 13th June - “Plastics United”- and a Gala Dinner networking event for BPF member firms in a years’ time on Friday, 11th October.
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Notes for editors:
The British Plastics Federation (BPF) is the UK trade association for the plastics industry – representing the whole supply chain including polymer producers, distributors, additives suppliers, machinery manufacturers, processors and recyclers.