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Chemicals and Plastics

Plastics

KwaZulu-Natal provides nearly a third of the country's plastics requirements. This industry, which uses 150 000 tons of polymer a year, consists of mainly small and medium size companies. The most challenging concern presently experienced by the plastics industry in South Africa is the cost of raw materials linked to the crude-oil price, which has risen dramatically and quickly in the last several years. However, plastics still remain cost-effective products, as the industry has managed to engineer its way around the escalating price.

KwaZulu-Natal provides nearly a third of the country's plastics requirements. This industry, which uses 150 000 tons of polymer a year, consists of mainly small and medium size companies. The most challenging concern presently experienced by the plastics industry in South Africa is the cost of raw materials linked to the crude-oil price, which has risen dramatically and quickly in the last several years. However, plastics still remain cost-effective products, as the industry has managed to engineer its way around the escalating price.

The use of plastic in the packaging industry is growing because it remains cost- and performance- effective In South Africa, more than 50% of converted polymer is used for packaging, although the importation of household plastic products from Asia, most notably China, Taiwan and, to a lesser extent, India, is a growing concern.

The South African export sector of the plastics industry has the potential to grow and the process of adding value to export products will have numerous spin-offs and affects, most notably job creation.

Chemicals

In the chemical and petro-chemical sub-sector, industrial chemicals comprise a third, at R1.1-billion, of the gross output, petroleum and coal products 30% at R1-billion, chemicals 21% at R0.7-billion, and rubber and plastic products the balance.

The Chemical industry is well developed with few large plants and a diverse grouping of specialist medium sized firms. Downstream there are many SMME chemical formulators, which play an important role in the distribution chain. Central to the industry are the two large oil refineries that feed into the Petro-Chemical sector. Other sectors that enjoy substantial investments are paint, agricultural chemicals, plastics and synthetic resins.