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The local plastics industry plays a significant role in the South African economy contributing approximately 1.6% to South Africa's total GDP and 14.3% to the country’s manufacturing GDP in 2013. According to the latest available statistics, approximately 1.4 million tons of virgin plastic material, with a market value of R50.4bn, was converted in 2013.
Challenging macro-economic conditions have been compounded by an influx of cheap imports. Between 2003 and 2012 import penetration in the plastics sector increased from 13% to 30%, and in the non-packaging plastic products sector it reached 71% by volume over the same period. As a result, a number of government initiatives have been introduced to increase competitiveness within the sector. The recently completed plastics strategy to develop the sector incorporates the promotion of localisation through designation of plastics products, the promotion of downstream polymer beneficiation and collaboration with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).
Eyeing the Rest of Africa
Investors see opportunities for the plastics industry in a continent with vast natural resources and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects sub-Saharan Africa to grow by 4.5% in 2015 and 5.1% in 2016. Plastics SA is looking at stimulating domestic growth by increasing exports into Africa and a number of South African-based and international plastics companies are focusing on developing and expanding their presence in Africa.
The Manufacture of Plastics and Plastic Products in South Africa evaluates the domestic industry, government attempts to stimulate local manufacture and factors influencing the sector’s success. The report also profiles 56 industry players, including Sasol Polymers, the country's major source of propylene, BASF South Africa (Pty) Ltd which produces polyurethanes, styrenes and engineering plastics, and Astrapak Ltd, which employs 3,132 people and is one of the country’s leading manufacturers of plastic packaging.