Archive:Plastics production statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1

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Data from January 2009. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

This article belongs to a set of statistical articles which analyse the structure, development and characteristics of the various economic activities in the European Union (EU). The present article covers the production of plastics, corresponding to NACE Rev 1.1 Group 25.2, which is part of the rubber and plastics sector. This article covers the manufacture of plastic products, including:

  • plastic sheets, pipes and tubes;
  • plastic packaging goods (such as bags, containers and bottles);
  • plastic products for the construction sector (such as doors, frames and baths);
  • other plastic products (such as insulating and lighting fittings).

Note that the article does not cover the manufacture of plastic games, toys, footwear, furniture or linoleum.

Table 1: Manufacture of plastic products (NACE Group 25.2). Structural profile, EU-27, 2006

Main statistical findings

Table 2: Manufacture of plastic products (NACE Group 25.2). Structural profile: ranking of top five Member States in terms of value added and persons employed, 2006
Table 3: Manufacture of plastic products (NACE Group 25.2). Expenditure, productivity and profitability, EU-27, 2006
Table 4: Plastics (CPA Group 25.2). Production of selected products, EU-27, 2007 (1)

According to Plastics Europe, the EU-27 together with Norway and Switzerland produced 65.6 million tonnes of plastics in 2007, accounting for a quarter of global production. There are a wide range of applications for plastics across many manufacturing activities. Demand by converters of plastics in the EU-27, Norway and Switzerland was for a total 52.5 million tonnes, of which just over one third (37 %) was for packaging, a further fifth (21 %) for building and construction and a little under one tenth (8 %) for the automotive applications.

Structural profile

The plastics manufacturing sector (NACE Group 25.2) employed about 1.4 million persons across the EU-27 in 2006, about eight in every ten workers within rubber and plastics manufacturing. These persons were employed by some 57.2 thousand enterprises, which generated an estimated value added of EUR 60.0 billion from turnover of EUR 209.7 billion in 2006.

The value added generated by the manufacture of other plastics (NACE Class 25.24), covering the production of goods such as plastic tableware and kitchenware as well as electrical insulating, was the largest activity within this sector, generating two fifths of EU-27 value added in 2006. A further quarter (25.4 %) came from the manufacture of plastic plates, sheets, tubes and profiles manufacturing (NACE Class 25.21), while the manufacture of plastic packing goods (NACE Class 25.22) and builders’ ware (NACE Class 25.23) provided the remainder.

The plastics manufacturing sector in Germany generated more value added in 2006 than that of any other Member State, accounting for over one quarter (28.1 %) of the EU-27 total, almost twice the contribution of the next highest share from the United Kingdom (15.1 %). There was not a particularly strong level of relative specialisation in value added terms within the plastics manufacturing sector. The relative contribution of the value generated by this sector to total value added in the non-financial business economy was highest in Slovenia, where it was about two thirds more than the EU-27 average.

For most of the plastics manufacturing subsectors, EU-27 production indices in the period between 1997 and 2007 followed a broad pattern of growth through until 2000 followed by a year or two of stagnation or contraction before a further upswing in output through until the end of the period. In this respect, the development of the output of builders’ ware of plastic manufacturing was something of an anomaly. Over the same ten year period, the production index declined by a total of 6.6 %, with upturns in 1998, 2003 and 2006 being followed immediately by declines.

Expenditure and productivity

Tangible investment in the plastics manufacturing sector in 2006 was valued at EUR 39.9 billion, representing about three quarters (76.2 %) of all tangible investment across the EU-27’s rubber and plastics manufacturing activities, resulting in an investment rate of 15.0 %.

The average value added generated by each person employed within the EU-27’s plastics manufacturing sector was EUR 43.4 thousand in 2006, which was EUR 13.4 thousand higher than the average personnel costs of each employee (note the latter does not include self proprietors). As a result, the wage adjusted labour productivity ratio of the plastics manufacturing workforce was 144.7 % in 2006, almost identical to the average for the whole of rubber and plastics manufacturing. This was also the case among a majority of the Member States for which data are available[1], with exceptions limited to Bulgaria (where this ratio was 20 percentage points higher for plastics manufacturing), and to Slovakia and the Czech Republic (where it was between 20 and 30 percentage points lower for plastics manufacturing).

Data sources and availability

The main part of the analysis in this article is derived from structural business statistics (SBS), including core, business statistics which are disseminated regularly, as well as information compiled on a multi-yearly basis, and the latest results from development projects.

Other data sources include the PRODCOM statistics on the production of manufactured goods.


Recent legislation within this area has focused on environmental issues, with a key development being the adoption of the revised Waste Framework Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council in November 2008. This sets out the basic concepts and definitions related to waste management and lays down waste management principles such as the ‘polluter pays principle’ or the ‘waste hierarchy’. With regard to the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector, the Directive obliges Member States to take measures to promote high quality recycling and, to this end, set up separate collections of waste. By 2020, the recycling of waste materials such as plastics, among others, from households should be increased to a minimum of 50 % by weight. End-of-waste criteria that provide a high level of environmental protection and an environmental and economic benefit should be laid down for tyres.

The production of plastic begins with the distillation of heavy crude oil into hydrocarbon fractions, the most important of which is called naphtha. Polymerisation and polycondensation are the two key processes used to produce plastics. Plastics can be grouped into two main polymer families: these are thermosets, which do not soften once moulded; and thermoplastics, which soften on heating and then harden on cooling.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables


Dedicated section

Further information

External links


  1. Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal, 2005; Malta, not available.