According to one recent study, the global production of plastics hit an enormous 368 million metric tons in 2019 alone. It was an incredible year for the industry, to be sure – but the COVID-19 pandemic soon had other plans.

Flash forward just a few months and work stoppages and supply chain blockages made things extraordinarily difficult for plastics manufacturers, to say the least. But now, with vaccines rolling out across the world, it looks like things will soon be returning to normal. As they do, there are a number of important trends making an impact on the world of plastics manufacturing that are absolutely worth a closer look.

The Latest Trends Shaping Plastics Manufacturing

One of the biggest recent trends in terms of plastics manufacturing has to do with a recent increase in the production on biodegradable products. Many of these plastics are actually made from plant-based materials that isn’t just environmentally friendly during the production process, but that also allows them to be easily disposed of later on. They decompose in a far easier, safer way than many of the products most people are used to.

In fact, this trend has become so popular that the worldwide market for these types of biodegradable plastics is expected to hit roughly $12.4 billion by as soon as 2027 according to one recent study. This is especially important as more and more organizations – along with the consumers that they serve – make a conscious effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Another significant trend in plastics manufacturing has to do with the rise of the “smart factory” – something that itself is being empowered by Industry 4.0, otherwise known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. By bringing together countless devices, sensors and other assets by way of the Internet of Things, plastics manufacturers unlock a host of unique benefits, essentially all at the exact same time.

Not only does this dramatically improve efficiency, but it also improves productivity as well. Collaborative robots can be used to safely, accurately and reliably complete a lot of the tasks that used to require human intervention, allowing those human employees to focus on the types of jobs that actually require their attention. In addition to making compliance easier, this is also a great way to reduce costs and empower both the flexibility and agility needed to pivot in accordance with ever-changing market demands.

But when you also consider that Industry 4.0 is also a way to create a more exceptional customer experience across the board, you’re likely looking at the most important benefit of all.

These are just a few of the major trends shaping the world of plastics manufacturing today. Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant disruption for many industries and manufacturing was not immune to that. But if necessity is the mother of invention, it’s clear that a wide range of different businesses have learned major lessons from the pandemic and are now ready to hit the ground running.

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