Canadian Plastics

UK plastics industry gets involved in fight against COVID-19

Plastics processors are supplying needed items and the British Plastics Federation has been liaising with key UK government departments.

April 13, 2020   Canadian Plastics

The UK plastics industry is playing a key role in the fight against COVID-19, with many companies going to great lengths to meet sudden spikes in demand for key products, ranging from medical packaging to components for ventilators.

The British Plastics Federation (BPF), which represents 85% of the UK plastics industry by turnover, has been liaising with key government departments such as the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on a daily basis to ensure key advice and guidance reaches the industry, as well as to share insights, unique data and key concerns.

In addition, the BPF has been fielding daily enquiries from a huge range of organisations, including the UK government, Scottish Government and Welsh Government. These have included over 35 urgent calls for materials, bottles, lids, visors and components for ventilators, among others. The BPF has been using its knowledge of the supply chain to help source supplies wherever possible.

“Plastics companies have found themselves under unprecedented pressure and many have managed to alter their typical manufacturing schedules to produce essential products at breakneck speed,” BPF said in a press release. “Some companies are providing supplies to the NHS at cost price, despite pressures on their own businesses.”

Examples cited by BPF of plastics processors in the UK going above and beyond include Rutland Plastics, which has produced medical equipment for the Nightingale Ward Hospital at the ExCel Centre; Numatic, which has developed and manufactured face shields currently in use at the Worcestershire NHS Trust, West Midlands Ambulance Service, Birmingham Children’s Hospital and The Gibraltar Health Authority; and Cromwell Polythene, which is providing vital everyday products such as refuse sacks and recycling sacks to key industries, as well as manufacturing clinical waste sacks, gloves and aprons.

“Some manufacturers have shifted to 24/7 production and are using innovations like the Intouch i4 Cloud to facilitate this, as it allows them to leave the machines completely unmanned during the weekend, increasing production whilst keeping their staff safe,” BPF said. “There has obviously been a big increase in demand for medical packaging, as well as hand sanitizer bottles and lids.” Material supplier Ineos announced on March 24 that it would build a hand sanitizer plant in just ten days that was capable of producing one million bottles per month.

To help the plastics industry get all the information it needs, the BPF has also made its webinars available for everyone to attend, although only its members will have access to the recordings. These webinars cover everything from energy management during partial shutdowns to the impact of COVID-19 on polymer supply.

“The plastics industry is vital in the fight against COVID-19,” BPF director general Philip Law said. “Despite the challenges every business is facing right now, we have been helping to feed the nation, protect key workers and supply a wide range of essential medical supplies, including components for ventilators. I’m proud of how our industry has stepped up and shown its true colours during this time of crisis.”


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