YEAR IN REVIEW 2021
An eventful year in a nutshell / Plastics industry faces turning point in 2022
Dear reader, 12 months ago, did you think that the chaotic lockdown year of 2020 would be followed by another very similar and equally chaotic 2021? If it’s any consolation, you were not alone in your misjudgement, which was obviously based on the basic need for hope. Nobody expected 365 more days of such turbulence for the economy and society at large – not you, not your suppliers, not your customers and competitors, and certainly not politicians and economists.

There is, however, one thing we cannot accuse 2021 of – being boring. The third and fourth waves of coronavirus swept over us, vaccines hit the market in record time (although initially scarce in Europe, they were soon widely available), vaccine production then saw a boost, but are now back to being scarce again. Then there is the lack of vaccines and subsequent health crises in other parts of the world. While politicians haplessly tried to counter unpredictable developments with ever-evolving pandemic rules, companies and citizens had to adapt time and again.

Beyond the crisis and pandemic-related disruptions, though, the world continued to go round in 2021: from 1 January, Brexit really became Brexit, sealed by the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which the European Parliament approved at the end of April 2021. Joe Biden took office as the next US president at the beginning of the year, raising hopes for better, more cooperative US policies. In Italy, ex-European Central Bank president Mario Draghi was sworn in as prime minister in February, and Germany chose a new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, which ended 16 years of governance by Angela Merkel, the first woman to fill Germany’s highest political office. China presented its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), and the COP26 climate-change conference was held in Glasgow, with varied pledges to become carbon-neutral by 2050. On 1 April, Plasteurope.com’s parent company, KI Group (Bad Homburg / Germany; www.ki.de) celebrated its 50th anniversary (see Plasteurope.com of 01.04.2021). And last but not the least, 2021 was also a bit sporty: footballers played the European Championship, and Olympic athletes in Tokyo competed in empty areas.

For the European plastics industry, 2021 started off on a hopeful note. The economy had picked up and recovered faster than expected. But then, force majeure reports, caused by plant breakdowns and production stoppages, began to pour in; the supply of primary products and raw materials faltered, supply chains fell completely out of balance, and the automotive industry collapsed. As a result, prices for raw materials and polymers skyrocketed.

Currently, there are little to no signs of optimism – or enthusiasm – among companies. The industry is looking ahead with fear and scepticism. A lot is dependent on the next 12 months, particularly on if, when, and how governments get the pandemic under control. Equally important is if, when, and how the worldwide chemical and plastics industries respond to what is arguably the most pressing matter of our age: climate change, and in particular, the reduction of greenhouse emissions. It remains to be seen how the transition to a circular economy will be achieved economically, and politically.

Despite some stagnation, 2021 was a dynamic, exciting, and innovative year. The plastics industry has proven once again that smart ideas, well-informed business decisions, and joint projects along the value chain lead to success. And the upcoming year might just turn things around for the better – with more confidence than doubts, more good news than bad, and more action than words.

We will accompany you, dear reader, through the unpredictable new year, and keep you up to date on the latest and most relevant news from the plastics industry.

We look forward to it, and hope you enjoying reading our Year in Review 2021.

The Plasteurope.com editorial team wishes you a safe, healthy, and happy New Year!
10.12.2021 Plasteurope.com [248968-0]
Published on 10.12.2021
Jahresrückblick 2021: Die Chronologie eines bewegt-bewegendes JahresGerman version of this article...

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