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Russia’s growing plastics market

February 1, 2021
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Russia is highly dependent on imports in this category, and the U.S. is not yet among its top import sources.

The production and processing of plastics is one of the largest subsectors of the Russian chemical industry in terms of the number of companies and employees. Nearly 13,000 companies manufacture plastic products in Russia, with more than 181,000 employees—more than one-third of all workers in Russia’s chemicals industry.

In the last five years, Russia has significantly increased its potential for the production of plastics. As of 2019, the sector had logged 62% growth from its size five years earlier. In terms of the production and use of containers and other plastic goods, Russia is gradually approaching world averages. As of 2018, the Russian plastic products market accounted for 2.2% of global volume.

World consumption of plastic products is constantly growing. The bulk of production capacity is located in Asia—nearly half (45%) of total volume—with China, South Korea and Japan as the leading sources within Asia. Europe and North America account for about 25% of worldwide production. The total volume of the world market is estimated at 280 million tons, with a projected growth rate of 4-6% per year.

Statistics show that about 15% of industrial products in Russia are made from plastic. These products are used in construction, packaging, automotive, agriculture, household products, the furniture industry, mechanical engineering, transportation, road construction, telecommunications and electrical engineering. The contract manufacturing market is actively developing.

As is the case everywhere in the world, Russia’s economy has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat), in December 2020, industrial production decreased by 0.2% compared to the same period a year earlier (the lowest value since April 2020), and the year-over-year decline was 2.9%. Meanwhile, production of plastic and rubber products in December increased by 14.2% compared to a year earlier, but decreased by 0.6% from the previous month. For 2020 as a whole, production of rubber and plastic products increased by 3.2%.

The volume of production in 2020 for various types of products was:

  • Polymer pipes, tubes, hoses and fittings: 710,000 tons (12.1% more than in 2019)
  • Unreinforced films and sheets: 1.4 million tons tons (10.9% more than in 2019)
  • Porous sheets and films: 332,000 tons (19.8% more than in 2019)
  • Non-porous films and sheets: 430,000 tons (5.0% more than in 2019)
  • Synthetic fibers: 173,000 tons (0.6% more than in 2019)
  • Plastic furniture: ₽915 million ($12.3 million, 25.0% more than in 2019)

In 2019, imports of plastics and plastic products to Russia amounted to 4 million tons (an 11.1% increase from 2018). Plastics and plastic products were shipped to Russia from 131 countries. The main supplier countries were China, Germany, Belarus and South Korea, and the main destination regions were Moscow, the Moscow region and St. Petersburg. In 2019, supplies of plastics and plastic products to Russia from China in physical terms increased by 19.3% to 795,000 tons, and in monetary terms, by 6.9% to $1.9 billion. 505,000  tons of plastics and plastics products ($1.6 billion) were received from Germany. Imports in this category from Belarus decreased by 4.6% to 387,000 tons ($568 million). Imports in this category from South Korea increased by 15.5% to 277,000 tons ($561 million).

Russia has a strong and growing market for plastics and plastic products, with both domestic production and imports increasing. The main event for this industry is the Interplastica exhibition, which takes place in Moscow in January. The exhibition was canceled in 2021, and will next take place Jan. 25-28, 2022.

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