The BPF has published a discussion document entitled ‘The UK Plastics Industry: A Strategic Manufacturing Sector’.
The BPF are encouraging comment from the industry for use in further discussions.
The remainder of this post is a quoted directly from the BPF document:
Conclusion and Key Messages for Government
The plastics industry is critical to the success of UK Government’s manufacturing strategy. Due to their versatility plastics are now essential for most manufacturing and distribution industry sectors.
The industry is a vital part of our heritage. At a time of economic and environmental concerns plastics can be seen as providing more solutions to crucial public issues than any other material: moderating the effects of climate change, the provision of housing, the provision of high quality healthcare and education, the management of water as a valuable resource and the prevention of food wastage through packaging.
In the rebalancing of the UK economy in favour of manufacturing, plastics technology will play a key role in facilitating the expansion of UK manufacturing activity. It will accelerate the progress made by UK Companies to adopt the advanced manufacturing techniques of the future and enable them to achieve the necessary flexibility, precision, quality and environmental performance.
In order to fully realise this extraordinary potential there are a number of key issues that must be addressed by government with some urgency:
- There is serious concern about the educational attainments of school leavers and available skill levels in the UK. At a time of economic recovery a skilled and educated workforce is essential in
- order to gain and create opportunities for business development. In the plastics industry we have a shortage of technician level skills.
- Government resources to support the development of export opportunities and inward investment of customer industries need to be reviewed. The Government needs to maintain and expand through UKTI the exploitation of new export opportunities.
- UK manufacturers need to have secure access to essential raw materials at stable prices. We have seen a long-term trend in the relocation of raw material manufacturing from Western Europe
- to the Middle and Far East where there is a perception of faster economic growth and a regulatory environment more supportive of manufacturing. Loss of local raw material production will impede the UK’s long term competiveness.
- Legislation and taxation affecting the plastics industry needs to be kept to a minimum to encourage its growth and competitiveness with other countries. Any targets introduced into legislation for example on recycling, should be realistic and based on reliable evidence.
- Government needs to fast-track new replacement energy generation capacity and gas storage to ensure that supply equals demand and that energy costs do not escalate.
- § Government, especially the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, should consider how the uniqueness and strategic importance of the UK plastics industry is recognised. Plastics products are the outcome of sophisticated engineering, design, digital technology and intensive dialogue with customer sectors such as automotive, construction, healthcare and retail.
- Government and industry together should promote the benefits of plastics products in order to secure public appreciation from investors and consumers alike, and to counter myths and misinformation.
- Government and industry together should intensify Research and Development of plastics in UK universities in collaboration with the manufacturing industry and the Materials KTN.