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Plastics industry shocked over Brexit vote


In a survey made at the beginning of this year only 8% of the members of the BPF said they wanted to leave the EU

British plastics companies have greeted the June 23 vote to leave the European Union (EU) with undisguised dismay. In a survey made at the beginning of this year only 8% of the members of the British Plastics Federation (BPF) said they wanted to leave the EU and 62% were for remaining in EU. Stephen Hunt, BPF membership services director, said a lot of the member companies were owned by large European businesses. "We export 35% of all our plastics and plastic products and a large proportion of that goes to Europe,” he said.

In a statement to Plastics News Europe, Philip Law, director-general of the BPF, said that while the ramifications of the Brexit decision were still not known or understood "the BPF will continue working with government, members and other stakeholders to make sure that the interests of the UK plastic industry are protected and developed. We will also be working closely with members to help them interpret the impact these changes will have on their business," Mr Law added.

Stewart Little, founder and managing director of Amtek Plastics UK, an international plastic moulding and product manufacturing company, said "we don't think it's going to be terribly good for manufacturers trying to buy and sell across Europe. We were supporters of Remain and so this result is a disappointment. Being in the EU has been beneficial for our supply chain and for our customers relations," said Mr Little. The uncertainties of recent months, which are likely to continue, have been a problem," he said.

Huw Radley, owner of Solent Composite Systems, said he was "still reeling from the shock." As forecast by the Remain campaign "markets are in freefall throughout the world - how long that will last and when recovery will come back is very hard to predict at this moment," he said. "I think for the plastics industry the uncertainties are quite severe. If the pound remains low, and I think it will for a considerable time, this means raw material prices will rocket, machinery prices will go up and we shall become less competitive as day follows night". The industry faced three things - a rise in the cost of capital, rising interest rates and increases in the price of machinery, much of which came from the Eurozone. Also, fuel prices will rise. There will be massively increased costs in the plastic industry and it will become much more difficult to compete," Mr Radley said.