A 3% drop in the number of rotational moulders listing in Applied Market Information Ltd.’s guide to the rotational moulding industry in Europe, highlights the effects of the global economic crisis on the European plastics industry. The remaining 336 listed production sites across Europe are estimated to have been responsible for the consumption of 211,000 tons of polymer in 2011, down from the pre-recession highs of 250,000 tons in 2006. Although the industry has a long way to go to regain those lost volumes, the market is expected to show some growth for 2012 after three years of declining volumes.
The weakness in the rotomoulding sector was largely a consequence of the continued economic uncertainty in Europe which resulted in the reduction of infrastructure projects and impacted on the demand for rotationally moulded water and fuel tanks, which make up the largest end use application for this process. Other sectors however performed better and the economic downturn resulted in some applications which may have traditionally used blow moulding switching to rotational moulding because of the smaller volumes of articles required and the economic advantages of using rotational moulding for small runs. The materials handling market has been relatively unaffected by the recession and the market for IBC is still growing. This market is maintained by the requirement for most containers to be replaced a minimum of every 3 years. The offshore industry and fishing remains a solid and growing market especially in the Nordic Countries where over 50% of rotational moulders supply the marine and fishing markets.