- A new report from the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) says that the industry maintains a trade surplus, though it was down by 32% to $7.1 billion in 2015, as reported by Plastics News.
- Resin prices were down, but resin is still the sole factor for this surplus. While the dollar value of this resin surplus decreased, tonnage actually increased by 2.7% from 2014.
- Plastic consumption in the U.S. — shipments minus exports plus imports — reached a record high of $295.4 billion.
Economic growth is expected to continue and U.S. plastics firms reported growth in packaging among other markets. While this trade balance is seen as a positive indicator for the economy, declining fuel prices have also lowered the price of plastic materials. Chinese imports of recovered plastics are down which in turn has decreased profits for the recycling industry.
The report also linked the future of trade policy to the presidential election.
"American trade policy and, indeed, the very concept of international trade and its benefits to the U.S. economy, have been under attack throughout this campaign," reads the report. "But no matter which candidate wins the presidency, the U.S. plastics industry, which annually contributes $427 billion to the U.S. economy and employs nearly 1 million Americans, believes that opening up new markets and rejecting calls for the U.S. to isolate itself economically (particularly from its biggest trading partners) should be major priorities for the next president."
This is highlighted by the fact that Mexico — along with Canada — continues to be one the largest export markets for plastics and has been a major focus of the campaign. Free trade was raised as an important issue in a Waste Dive survey last month which found that the majority of respondents supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.