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Rubber and plastics production statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1

From Statistics Explained

Data from January 2009. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.

This article introduces a set of statistical articles which analyse the structure, development and characteristics of the economic activities in the rubber and plastics sector in the European Union (EU). This sector covers NACE Rev 1.1 Subsection DH, and its activities are treated in more depth in two further articles:

Table 1: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Division 25). Structural profile, EU-27, 2006

Main statistical findings

Structural profile

Table 2: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Division 25). Structural profile: ranking of top five Member States, 2006
Map 1: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Division 25). Persons employed in the manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Subsection DH) as a proportion of those employed in the non-financial business economy (NACE Sections C to I and K) (%), 2006
Figure 1: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Division 25). Evolution of main indicators, EU-27 (2000=100)
Table 3: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Division 25). Share of value added and persons employed by enterprise size class, EU-27, 2006 (%)
Figure 2: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Division 25). Employment characteristics, 2007
Table 4: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Division 25). Expenditure, productivity and profitability, EU-27, 2006
Table 5: Rubber and plastic products (CPA Division 25). External trade, EU-27, 2007
Figure 3: Rubber and plastic products (CPA Division 25). Main trading partners, EU-27, 2007 (% share of exports/imports in value terms)
Table 6: Manufacture of rubber and plastic products (NACE Division 25). Main indicators, 2006 (1)

There were 64.9 thousand enterprises throughout the EU-27 for whom the manufacture of rubber and plastics (NACE Subsection DH) was their main activity in 2006, and they employed about 1.9 million persons. These enterprises generated a turnover of EUR 274.6 billion in 2006, of which EUR 78.4 billion or about one quarter (28.5 %) was added value. As a share of the value added generated by the whole of the non-financial business economy (NACE Sections C to I and K), the rubber and plastics sector contributed 1.4 %.

In terms of enterprise numbers, size of workforce and value added generated, the manufacture of plastic products (NACE Group 25.2) subsector was much larger than the manufacture of rubber products subsector (NACE Group 25.1). The plastic products manufacturing subsector comprised 57.2 thousand enterprises in 2006, with a workforce of about 1.4 million persons, and generated EUR 60.0 billion of value added. This contrasted with a rubber products manufacturing sector of 7.7 thousand enterprises, with a workforce of about 0.4 million persons, which generated EUR 18.0 billion of value added.

The rubber and plastics manufacturing sector in Germany generated just over one quarter (27.4 %) of the value added generated within the EU-27 in 2006. In these terms, the German rubber and plastics sector was almost twice the size of that in France (14.6 %), which was the second largest producer within the EU. Although the contribution of the rubber and plastics sector to non-financial business economy value added in Germany was slightly higher than the EU-27 average (1.9 % compared with 1.4 %), Germany was far from being the most specialised Member State. In these relative terms, Luxembourg was the most specialised country, as rubber and plastics contributed 3.2 % of the added value of the non-financial business economy; this was followed closely by the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

These three Member States were also the most specialised in terms of the relative importance of the rubber and plastics workforce and its contribution to the total number of persons employed within the non-financial business economy. At a regional level (the NUTS 2 level of detail shown in the map), the highest proportion (7.8 %) of the non-financial business economy workforce engaged in rubber and plastics manufacturing was in Auvergne (France). There were a number of other regions in France, as well as in Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland, together with Luxembourg (that is treated as a single region at the level of detail shown), where there was also relatively strong regional specialisation in rubber and plastics manufacturing.

There was a fairly steady upward development in the production index of the EU-27’s rubber and plastic products manufacturing activity during the ten years through to 2007, albeit it with a couple of years of stagnation in 2001 and 2002. This was an almost exact mirror of the annual development for the whole of the industrial economy (NACE Sections C to E). Over the ten year period considered, the average rate of growth for rubber and plastic products output was 2.4 % per year. There was also little difference in the development of output between rubber products manufacturing on the one hand and plastic products manufacturing on the other, except that the output of rubber products manufacturing fell rather than stagnated in 2001 and 2002.

In a similar vein, there was also little difference in the evolution of domestic output prices for rubber products and plastic products during the same ten year period; the average rate of increase in output prices for rubber and plastic products across the EU-27 was 1.0 % per year, reflecting relatively small price declines through until 2000 followed by a gradual upturn in prices until 2007. This overall pattern of price development was similar to that noted for the whole of total industry, although the upturn in prices after 2000 was less strong from rubber and plastics.

However, there was a much greater distinction in terms of employment. The EU-27 rubber and plastics manufacturing sector was the only manufacturing (NACE Section D) subsection in which there was employment growth in the ten years through to 2007, rising at an average rate of 0.7 % per year. This contrasted with relatively persistent employment declines (at an average 1.2 % per year) for total industry.

Unlike many other industrial sectors, and more in line with the non-financial business economy as a whole, a majority (57.4 %) of both the value added generated by the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector in the EU-27 and its workforce (64.1 %) came from small and medium-sized enterprises (those employing less than 250 persons). However, within small and medium-sized enterprises, micro-enterprises (employing less than 10 people) provided a particularly low proportion of value added (4.8 %) and the workforce (7.8 %) – the relative difference being made up by medium-sized enterprises (those employing between 50 and 249 persons). Although the apparent labour productivity of rubber and plastics manufacturing enterprises rose through the size groups, there were also diminishing productivity gains. This contrasted with industry as a whole, where productivity gains accelerated through the size classes.

The size structure of the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector was somewhat atypical in Germany and France (the two countries with the highest levels of output), as well as the Czech Republic (one of the most specialised Member States) in 2006, as all three of these Member States reported that large enterprises (employing 250 or more persons) generated a majority of sectoral value added in 2006.

Employment characteristics

A clear majority (71.5 %) of the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector’s workforce was male; this figure was above the average (64.9 %) for the whole of the EU-27 non-financial business economy in 2007. There was also a more notable prevalence of full-time work in the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector (93.9 % compared with 85.7 % for the non-financial business economy). In contrast, the age structure was fairly similar, albeit with a slightly higher majority (56.5 % compared with 53.7 %) of workers in the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector aged between 30 and 49 years old.

These employment characteristics for the EU-27 as a whole were also observed in most of the Member States. The proportion of men in the workforce was as much as 10 to 20 percentage points higher than the non-financial business economy average in the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Ireland, Cyprus and Luxembourg. However, it was lower than the non-financial business economy average in Hungary and particularly in Estonia, which was the only Member State where women formed a majority (51.3 %) of the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector’s workforce.

As with many other industrial activities in Denmark and the Netherlands, the proportion of young workers under the age of 30 in the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector was well below (about ten percentage points less) the share of this age group across their respective non-financial business economies. In contrast, there were relatively high proportions of young persons working within rubber and plastics manufacturing in Bulgaria and particularly Poland. Indeed, in the latter, young workers represented a little over a third (36.0 %) of the workforce in this sector, the highest proportion among the Member States.

Expenditure, productivity and profitability

Just under four fifths (79.2 %) of operating expenditure in the EU-27’s rubber and plastics manufacturing sector went on purchases of goods and services in 2006, a slightly lower proportion than the average (83.9 %) across the whole of the non-financial business economy.

Tangible investment was EUR 11.8 billion in 2006, representing 1.1 % of total investment across the non-financial business economy of the EU-27. This was a lower share than the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector’s contribution to total value added, resulting in an investment rate (15.1 %) that was lower than the non-financial business economy average (18.4 %). Among the Member States, investment rates in the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector were between 10 and 15 percentage points lower than average rates for the respective non-financial business economies of Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia, Slovakia and Lithuania. In contrast, rates were considerably higher in Poland (33.3 % compared with 19.5 % in 2005) and, in particular, Bulgaria (84.0 % compared with 56.7 %).

The average value added generated per person employed in the EU-27’s rubber and plastics manufacturing sector was EUR 44.8 thousand in 2006, about EUR 1.3 thousand more than the non-financial business economy average. Personnel costs per employee averaged EUR 30.9 thousand in the EU-27 in 2006, which was about EUR 2.1 thousand higher than for the whole of the non-financial business economy. In wage adjusted terms, therefore, the labour productivity of the EU-27’s rubber and plastics manufacturing sector (145.1 %) was a little lower than the non-financial business economy average (151.1 %) in 2006. This was also the case for the wage adjusted productivity ratios of the rubber products subsector (143.7 %) and the plastic products subsector (144.7 %), between which there was also relatively little difference in apparent labour productivity levels nor average personnel costs.

Among Member States, however, there were stark contrasts between the wage adjusted labour productivity ratios. In this respect, neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania provided the two greatest extremes: on the one hand, the ratio for the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector in Latvia was significantly lower than its non-financial business economy average (195.4 % compared with 255.7 %); while, in Lithuania, on the other, it was significantly higher (254.9 % compared with 177.4 %).

The gross operating rate of the EU-27’s rubber and plastics manufacturing sector was 9.6 % in 2006, slightly lower than the average (10.8 %) across the EU-27’s non-financial business economy. Again, there was relatively little difference in the corresponding rates between the two subsectors.

External trade

About three quarters (76.9 %) of the Member States’ total exports of rubber and plastic products (CPA Subsection DH) in 2007 were destined for other Member States, which represented a notably higher share than the average (67.6 %) for all industrial goods (CPA Sections C to E).

Exports of rubber and plastic products from the EU-27 to non-member countries (extra-EU trade) were valued at EUR 27.1 billion in 2007, whilst imports were valued at EUR 24.3 billion. The resulting net trade surplus of EUR 2.8 billion in 2007 represented a narrowing of the surplus (compared with 2006) after a number of years of the surplus growing. Whereas the EU-27 trade surplus for plastic products (CPA Group 25.2) continued to widen to EUR 4.0 billion in 2007, the trade deficit for rubber products (CPA Group 25.1) increased considerably to EUR 1.2 billion, driven by a rapid increase (21.0 %) in the value of imports when compared with their level in 2006.

The value of EU-27 exports of rubber and plastic products represented 2.3 % of all industrial exports in 2007. The principal export markets for the EU-27’s rubber and plastic products were the United States, Switzerland and Russia. The position of the United States as the principal export market was partially eroded between 2006 and 2007, however, as a result of a falling level of EU-27 exports to this country at the same time as the value of the total export market for these products grew.

There was relatively little difference in the relative shares of the EU-27’s three main export partners for plastic products, whereas for rubber products the United States continued to account for around one fifth of the EU-27’s exports in 2007, which was slightly more than twice the proportion accounted for by Russia, the second highest share.

The value of imports of rubber products from China and Japan were similar, together accounting for a little less than one third (31.9 %) of all such imports to the EU-27 in 2007, although the year on year growth in the value of imports from China in 2007 was twice as strong as that for Japan (43.6 % compared with 17.9 %).

Imports of plastic products from China accounted for a little less than one third (30.6 %) of EU-27 imports in 2007, which was slightly more than the combined value of imports from the United States and Switzerland (the second and third most important origin of EU-27 imports for plastic products).

Data sources and availability

The main part of the analysis in this article is derived from structural business statistics (SBS), including core, business statistics which are disseminated regularly, as well as information compiled on a multi-yearly basis, and the latest results from development projects.

Other data sources include short-term statistics (STS), the Labour force survey (LFS) and the COMEXT database for external trade.

Context

Recent legislation within this area has focused on environmental issues, with a key development being the adoption of the revised Waste Framework Directive (2008/98) of the European Parliament and of the Council in November 2008. This sets out the basic concepts and definitions related to waste management and lays down waste management principles such as the ‘polluter pays principle’ or the ‘waste hierarchy’. With regard to the rubber and plastics manufacturing sector, the Directive obliges Member States to take measures to promote high quality recycling and, to this end, set up separate collections of waste. By 2020, the recycling of waste materials such as plastics, among others, from households should be increased to a minimum of 50 % by weight. End-of-waste criteria that provide a high level of environmental protection and an environmental and economic benefit should be laid down for tyres.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

Database

Dedicated section

Further information

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