Editorial

“The manufacturers of plastic products are raising their voice in view of the continuing shortage of raw materials”

In the PU sector this has been the key issue in recent months as well – no ISOs. Insufficient supply of polyol and BDO was an outright catastrophe – that’s why I wanted to dedicate my editorial to this warning as well.

When I recently checked with some of the processors more specifically the situation appeared to be slightly more relaxed again. Yes, prices have clearly risen. As was demonstrated to me based on specific numbers, the current price level significantly surpasses the one from 2020 and 2019 (when a decline in raw material prices was already noticeable due to the ailing German automotive industry) but a comparison with the boom years of 2017 and 2018 shows that the situation no longer looks quite as dramatic.

I don’t want to sugar-coat anything because, obviously, prices have increased and the shortage was dramatic. Arguably, there were several reasons for this that came together, as I was able to learn at the PlasticsEurope Germany press conference on 6th May. Freak weather in the United States and production lines that weren’t ramped up in time as well as machine downtimes are one factor accounting for the raw material shortage. The fact that the Chinese economy has clearly been recovering since as far back as June 2020 and the players there are paying “any price” (quote) has more than likely been steering the supply channels from Europe and the US in that direction. “At the moment, it’s a sellers’ market,” one raw material supplier cheerfully informed me. Well, times will change again – that’s life.

But for now, it’s time to take a summer break and that brings up a crucial question:

 

When are we going to have a real summer again? I mean the kind of summer we used to have?

 

Well – I’m afraid it won’t be this year. At least not for me and not under the current conditions in this country, because I’m not a member of the privileged group of ‘VRT’ people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested. Vaccination: My turn hasn’t come yet (simply because I’m not a member of a priority group and, mind you, would like to choose the vaccine myself that I’m going to have shot into my arm). Recovered: I apologise for not having been ill Tested: I’m not going to take a weekly ‘free test’ (does anyone really believe this kind of nonsense? – because we’re all going to foot the bill) when there’s no actual need for it – needless to say: I’m going to comply with the rules when I have to take a trip to Austria, where I hail from, or would like to go to a restaurant for a change (in that case, I take a test as

required).

But the biggest joke was my phone call yesterday with a Wadden Sea station on the German North Sea coast to book a mudflat hiking tour on the occasion of my daughter’s birthday. I wanted to find out what the prerequisites were and sign us up. We’ve downloaded the required app to our smartphones and are in possession of all types of face masks, but that’s not enough – for a stroll in fresh air in groups with a maximum of 20 people we’re supposed to present an antigen test that’s no older than 24 hours. What for? So that I won’t pass on the virus to a worm in the mudflats? Or because you can’t keep the required social distance in the cramped space of the Wadden Sea? I don’t get it and that’s why I reject this type of nonsense.

Now, I’m taking a deep breath – but I just had to vent this!

Since I’m an eternal optimist I’m going to find enough alternatives to enjoy the summer and that’s what I’m hoping for all of you too.

P.S.: I can hardly wait for the opportunity to finally engage in some personal exchanges again at one event or another this autumn – that’s what I’m particularly looking forward to. Unfortunately, the long lockdown is showing its impact on the event world: ‘PaintExpo’ has been sold and ‘IEX – Insulation Expo Europe’ as well as ‘Composites for Europe’ will more than likely not take place again.

Birgit Harreither

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