The Instituto Nacional do Plastico (INP), or the Brazilian Plastic Institute, was created in 1989 to facilitate programs and activities for Brazilian plastic converting companies to obtain more competitiveness in the domestic and foreign markets. It develops and implements several programs in the following areas: quality, productivity, technology, plastics in agribusiness, training, standards, plastic image and exports.
Among our many high profile programs is the Export Plastics Program, which involves the promotion of Brazilian plastic products throughout the world. According to figures released by ABIPLAST in 2005 which were part of a Brazilian Plastics Processing Industry Profile, Brazil has 8,500 converting companies that employ 258,000 that answer an intense market need in the country: the consumption of converted plastic products, which reached 4,263,000 metric tons, reflecting total revenues of (U.S.) $16 billion. The amount exported reached (U.S.) $975 million, equivalent to 275,000 metric tons.
All of the converted plastics are making their way into a range of applications; these include:
packaging: 42 percent
disposables: 11 percent
construction: 10 percent
technical components: 11 percent
agriculture: 9 percent
household appliances: 5 percent
others: 12 percent
Trends and innovation
As far as trends in the industry, one of the biggest comes in the area of recycling post-consumer plastics. In other Mercosur countries the index stands at 5 percent but the Brazilian recycling rate has reached 17.5 percent and registered sustainable growth governed by market laws alone.
Recycling plastic rises as the solution to make the material environmentally friendly. Plastic goods manufacturers launched the movement because they wanted to reuse production leftovers. At least 50,000 people, most of them informal workers, collect post-consumer material, according to estimates.
The progress of investment in innovation and research and development in the Brazilian petrochemicals industry has its market in both before and after the opening of the local market to international competition. However, in neither time did spending reach 1 percent of companies’ net annual returns.
But looking at the production chain, according to an article in The Plastics Industry magazine, while it may be right to have spent on innovation in first and second generation companies which produce basic petrochemicals, ethane, propylene (as well as intermediates, styrene and phenol, etc.) this spending is rare in the plethora of companies making up the final stages of the chain: the manufacturers of plastics, rubber, synthetic fibers and resins.
One that is making strides in the industry is Braskem, one of the five largest Brazilian owned private companies producing basic petrochemicals; it is the Latin American market leader in the thermoplastic resin segment taking the field of innovation and technology very seriously. The company manages significant investments which, in 2003, were mostly spent on the launch of an unprecedented resin in the Latin American market, a new family of polyethylenes. To advance its research, it maintains the Braskem Innovation and Technology Center in Triunfo where a team of more than 150 researchers work, producing important developments for the company.
In other areas, plastic packaging is affected by several pieces of legislation in Brazil and abroad for those in contact with food and beverages. We have contracted with researchers to provide us all necessary information regarding standards, legislation and regulatory papers. Also, in Brazil there are institutes and technology centers, which test packaging under internationally approved standards. We also invite consultants and specialists from several countries to come to Brazil to give us seminars about specific and regulatory issues. With all of these activities and programs, the plastics market in Brazil is sure to continue making strides in the global market.
Wagner Delarovera Pinto is executive manager of The Instituto Nacional do Plastico (INP). For more information visit www.inp.org.br or www.exportplstic.com.