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Career in Plastic Industry

Plastic Industry

The plastics industry manufactures polymer materials — commonly called plastics — and offers services in plastics important to a range of industries, including packaging, building and construction, electronics, aerospace, and transportation.

It is part of the chemical industry. In addition, as mineral oil is the major constituent of plastics, it is regarded[by whom?] as a part of the petrochemical industry.

Besides plastics production, plastics engineering is an important part of the industrial sector. The latter field is dominated by engineering plastic as raw material because of its better mechanical and thermal properties than the more widely used commodity plastics.


Although there are many different kinds of plastics, they are all related in their chemical structure. Because plastics are versatile materials, light in weight, and relatively strong, they are used in making kitchen utensils, automobile steering wheels, television cabinets, swimming pools, paint, buttons, fabrics, and countless other products.

In the medical field alone, many special plastic products have been developed. There are plastic patches that slowly release measured doses of medicine through the skin and indicate when all the medicine has been absorbed. Special plastic casts for broken bones allow the wearer freedom of action. The casts are light and strong and can even be worn while swimming. Another major medical advance that makes use of plastics is the development of artificial heart valves.

In 2004 the plastic products segment of the plastics industry employed more than 633,000 workers. Nearly thirty states have processing plants that produce plastic materials. The Great Lakes region is the leading producer.

The basic raw materials used to make plastic products are called resins. Resins are produced in chemical plants by combining the chemical element carbon with other elements such as oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen. Synthetic resins are different from any material found in nature. Chemical plants ship resins to plastics manufacturing plants in the form of a syrup, powder, or in another easy-to-use configuration.

Once the resins reach the plastics processing plants, workers add other ingredients such as dyes and fillers. Plastics can be processed in several different ways. They can be made into a foam to be used in insulation and for packaging. Foam is formed when gas bubbles become trapped in solid plastic. Some hard plastics are cast in molds much like plaster of paris. Others are machined like metals. Soft plastics can be extruded—that is, heated and forced through holes into cool water or air where they harden. This method is often used to make plastic tubing.

Molding is one of the most common methods used to form plastic products. Using this method, workers heat and soften plastic and shape it into products such as toothbrush handles, toys, and cups. The kinds of workers employed in molding provide some idea of the workers employed in the plastics industry in general. First, the resins must be prepared and mixed with other ingredients to form a powder. Drier operators, blenders, and oven tenders mix and supply the molding powder to molding machine operators, who are responsible for setting heat and pressure gauges properly and for pouring the powder into the molding machines. As the powder is heated, it turns to liquid and flows into the mold, where it is allowed to cool and harden into shape. The operators then remove the molded plastic pieces from the mold, inspect them, and place them on a conveyor belt or on a truck for transportation to the finishing room.

In the finishing room, several workers use small tools or machines to finish the plastic products. Drill press operators, for example, remove excess plastic. Grinders or filers clean up outer edges, and buffers smooth them. Plastics regrinders run machines that grind up scraps of plastic. After passing a final inspection, the plastic product is ready to be cleaned, packaged, and shipped to a wholesale or retail seller. Sometimes plastic parts are shipped to other plants, where they are assembled with other parts into finished products.

Besides molding, there are other ways to process plastic. In calendering, for example, plastic is squeezed between a series of rollers to make a sheet or film of plastic. Calender operators take care of this process. Plastic film can be used for wrapping food or as a protective cover for clothing or furniture. Sometimes products are laminated with plastic. Coaters operate machines that soak sheets of paper, fabric, or wood with liquid resin. Laminating press operators press the plastic-coated sheets in heavy machines. Several other types of production workers are also employed in the processing of plastics.

Specialists employed by the plastics industry include chemists, chemical engineers, and plastics engineers. They are important in the development of new plastics, new processing methods, and new uses for plastics. The industry also employs many other kinds of workers, including managers, clerical workers, sales representatives, technicians, and maintenance workers.

Education and Training Requirements

There are no specific education requirements for unskilled and semiskilled production jobs, although some plants prefer to hire high school graduates. Once hired, a worker can learn many of the production jobs within a few days or weeks of training. Learning to operate some of the more complex machinery such as the molding and compressing machines can take between six months and one year. Many workers find jobs in the plastics industry after getting experience in a related branch of the chemical industry.

Professional workers need more formal education. Technicians, for example, usually need two years at a college or technical school. Courses in chemistry are an important background for workers at all levels in the plastics industry. Chemists and chemical engineers can take special chemistry courses to prepare themselves for a career as a plastics engineer. Some engineers get advanced degrees.

Getting the Job

To get a job in the plastics industry, apply directly to plants that make plastics or plastic products. Many companies list openings in newspaper want ads and with the state employment office. Sometimes openings for production workers may be posted on a sign outside the plant. Professional workers may find a job through the placement office of their technical school or college.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

As they improve their skills and gain experience, production workers in the plastics industry can move into jobs operating more complex machinery. Some become supervisors or inspectors. Those who take courses at a technical school or college sometimes become technicians. Engineers and scientists in this industry sometimes move into executive positions.

Plastics continue to be used as substitutes for other materials that are heavier, more expensive, or more difficult to process. In addition, the demand for entirely new products and uses for plastics is likely to remain high. However, despite the success of the plastics industry, the job outlook in plastics is poor through 2014. While the United States has the technological lead in this industry, foreign competitors are anticipated to increase their production. Also, many production processes are highly automated, so the demand for production workers is not expected to be as great as the demand for research scientists and engineers. Recycling of plastic products is becoming a necessity. New jobs are expected to be created to meet the demand for research and development in this area.

Working Conditions

Most workers are employed in modern plants with equipment and procedures that minimize job hazards. Some departments may be hot and noisy, and certain processes cause unpleasant odors. Many plants operate around the clock and on weekends and holidays, so workers at these plants work in shifts. A forty-hour workweek is usual. Many production workers belong to labor unions.

Where to Go for More Information

Society of Plastics Engineers 14 Fairfield Dr. Brookfield, CT 06804-0403 (203) 775-0471

Society of the Plastics Industry 1667 K St., NW, Ste. 1000 Washington, DC 20006 (202) 974-5200


The European and US plastics industries are under significant competition from Asia. For a long time Europe and North America led the global plastics production. Today, China is the largest producer of plastics (25%) followed by Europe (20%) and the US (19.5%).1 When combined, the Americas and Europe account for about 45 percent of the worlds plastic production which is equal to Asia (China, Japan, and rest of Asia). The global plastics industry has continuously grown for more than 50 years. For instance, for the period 2012 to 2017, the demand for plastic products increased steadily by about 3.7 percent per year with a total world plastics production of about 300 Mtonne in 2013.

Plastics Manufacturer

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A Day in the Life of a Plastics Manufacturer"You'll never get rich doing this," wrote the supervisor of one injection-molding floor, "but you're sure as hell going to have fun." Satisfaction levels were high among most respondents in this industry, who cited the regular work schedule, the production of a useful (and often recyclable) product, and the camaraderie between machine operators and supervisors. Even those who supervise workers must understand the nuances of their precise machinery, so many supervisors have been known to take a shift themselves at various stages of the process. Without this fluid line between boss and employee that supports many departments through work crunches and technical crises, plastics manufacturing would be just another hard production job. The two main types of plastics manufacturing are injection molding and blow molding. Injection molding equipment is used for precision parts, such as appliance parts; blow molding equipment is used to make circular, volume-oriented items such as two-liter soda bottles and shampoo containers. The original press of a mold is critical to future replicas, so supervisors have to take exquisite care in the preparation and casting of that initial mold. Production pressures can be intense, but manufacturers are usually responsible only for their own shifts, from the melting of the powdered plastic (or pellet plastic) to the cooling and testing of the final product. Manufacturers may dash from production area to production area "putting out fires before they begin" and making certain that their shifts run smoothly. According to many respondents, the most unexpected part of being a plastics manufacturer is the socializing and friendships between bosses and employees. The production work can be difficult--working with molten plastic, handling equipment at temperatures that can reach two thousand degrees or more, testing plastic for tensile strength--and this shared stress seems to encourage mutual respect. "The workers are good people who work hard. You take care of them and they'll take care of you," said one manufacturer. Plastics manufacturing is a busy, friendly world where one's reward isn't necessarily determined by the size of one's paycheck.

Paying Your DuesA college degree isn't required in the plastics manufacturing profession. Many manufacturing executives are chosen from manufacturing operator pools, which make long periods of job-specific education unnecessary. Many do attend college and some come into the profession with no relevant experience, but employers look for other qualities--scientific skills, leadership abilities, and manufacturing experience--from those candidates. All applicants should be familiar with math, basic science, and communication skills, and be able to take direction. Successful candidates seem to have one other quality that can't be learned: They inspire respect in the people around them.

Present and FuturePlastics are so common in contemporary life that it's hard to imagine a time when plastic products didn't exist. Yet there were none until the early 1900s, when Leo Baekeland developed a practical, synthetic plastic. The flexibility and durability of this new, lightweight (and inexpensive) product revolutionized manufacturing, packaging, bottling, storage, and transportation. Recent efforts at expanding America's recycling base have given rise to the used-plastics industry, which may still experience financial uncertainty, but which has reduced landfill waste by over 5 percent in the last seven years. Less-skilled plastics manufacturing jobs are slowly becoming automated, and new entrants to the field must meet increased computer and technical skill requirements. The impact of the trend toward automation is still mild in this industry, but in time it could change the entire feel of the plastics industry. So much of the operation of the plastics industry is founded on and guided by the personal loyalties and associations that develop among the employees that automation of the work processes could have a seriously negative effect on the productivity of the remaining workers. Automation, such as through computer numerically controlled (CNC) production, is proceeding at a fairly slow pace in this industry, as employers recognize the value of employee relationships. Nevertheless, eventual automation is inevitable because of its promise of still greater efficiency.


Many aspiring plastics manufacturers are line technicians, machine operators, or assistants, learning how to be good injection molders or extruder operators. People new to the profession are surprised at how helpful their fellow employees are in this early stage of their careers. Hours are regular and salaries are low, but satisfaction is high. Many in these beginning jobs learn the front-line lessons that will make them effective managers.


Five-year plastics executives have been pulled from the line and put in charge of one area of operation, such as plastic bead molding, or casting, striping, or shaping. Although initially this switch from operator to supervisor is unsettling, many quickly see the advantages--particularly in the 60 percent decrease in the likelihood of injury. Hours can increase as administrative duties are added to production duties. Salaries rise and satisfaction is high.


Ten-year veterans become involved in such areas as inventory control, client contact, and long-term planning, but expect input to be limited for another five years or so. Many are encouraged to take additional courses in finance or to try their hand at sales (because they are intimately familiar with the production process). Many turn down these options and remain manufacturing supervisors, keeping close to the people they care about and doing the job they love.

Plastic Industry is taking a very significant part in the contribution of the progress of our country. It has contributed greatly to different sectors in the country such as Automotive, Construction, Electronics, Healthcare, Textiles, and FMCG etc. The plastic industry contributes to almost every daily requirement which is clothing, housing, construction, furniture, automobiles, household items, agriculture, horticulture, irrigation, packaging, medical appliances, electronics and electrical items Plastic Industry grows in the huge regional diversification of India, Western India accounts for 47%, Northern India for 23% and Southern India for 21%. Per capita consumption of the plastic Industry is increasing heavily.

India’s plastic has grown 13% annually in the last 5 years and similar growth is expected even in the future. There are over 30,000 registered plastic processing units. Number of plastic processing units in India is as high as 30,000. Growth of the Plastic industry is at a CAGR of 10% in volume from 8.3 MMTPA in financial year 2010 and in Financial year 2015 it was 13.4 MMTPA, and looking at the growing potential in future it is estimated to bloom at a CAGR of around 10.5% to gain 22 MMPTA from financial year 2015-2020. However, for a long time, India’s plastic Industry is facing a huge domestic demand crunch which is affecting over 4 million people employed under it. Per capita consumption of plastic at 11 kg is much lower than the per capita consumption of plastic in China and many other countries.

Even though Plastic Industry has an enormous growth potential, it still faces immense challenges in terms of environmental myths, behind in modern tech, restricted infrastructure, and significant instability in feedstock prices. Real growth can only be produced in the plastic Industry if the stakeholders want it. Over the next 3 years, the government of India is gonna take large steps to improve the railways and shipping infrastructure. Investments in water and sanitation management, irrigation, building & construction, power, transport, and retail is persuaded. Plastic plays a very important role in these sectors in a variety of products, as a result, higher investment in these sectors will drive the demand even for plastic Industry. Minister Hansraj Gangaram Ahir in an interview said “Technical upgradation fund is applicable at present in pharmaceutical and textile sector, which may also be considered and discussed for plastic and polymer sector. The basic problem with plastic is its management. We invite the industry to participate pro-actively in plastic waste management” There is a huge growth in the polymer use in all India, but as for now, it is far behind globally. In this age of globalization and our constant need to improve our standard of living the demand for plastic is bound to increase exponentially.

The Indian plastics market is comprised of around 25,000 companies and employs 3 million people. The domestic capacity for polymer production was 5.72m tonnes in 2009. The State of Gujurat in Western India is the leading plastics processing hub and accounts for the largest number of plastics manufacturers, with over 5,000 plastics firms.

The growth rate of the Indian plastics industry is one of the highest in the world, with plastics consumption growing at 16% per annum (compared to 10% p.a. in China and around 2.5% p.a. in the UK). With a growing middle class (currently estimated at 50 million) and a low per capita consumption of plastics, currently 8kg per head, this trend is likely to continue. The Plastindia Foundation estimate that plastics consumption is likely to reach 16kg per head by 2015.

Despite India having a population of 1.15 billion and a work force of 467 milion, plastics companies have reported problems with labour shortages. This has led to increased investment in technology such as automation and conveyor belt systems.

Apart from the shortage of a skilled labour, the plastics industry is also facing the problem of a nationwide power deficit. The electricity demand deficit is 12-13 per cent.This provides excellent opportunities for firms offering energy saving solutions, power saving machines and ancillary equipment.

Raw Material Supply and Demand

Reliance Industries, India’s largest private sector conglomerate company, stated in January that India’s polyolefins market is expected to grow 12 percent to about 7.5 million metric tons in 2011 with double-digit growth in consumption of both polypropylene and polyethylene. Polypropelene will account for the largest growth at 18% (with consumption growing from 2.2 million metric tonnes to 2.6 million metric tonnes).

It is estimated that between 75-80% of Polypropylene demand in India is met by Reliance Industries with around 20% coming from four Government run companies Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), Haldia Petrochemicals, Bharat Petroleum Corporation LTD (BPCL) and the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL).

Partially due to the growth of the Indian construction industry (which is growing at approx. 20% p.a.) the demand for PVC is exceptionally high with domestic production barely meeting 50% of the demand. Again, of the domestic suppliers, Reliance is the largest followed by Chemplast and Finoflex (with the latter two accounting for about 5% of demand).

EVA is also in high demand, with barely 10% of the demand being met by domestic supply, in this case by Relene (a division of Reliance).

Despite the fact that India has one of the highest plastics recycling rates in the world (an estimated 47% of all plastics is recycled) the demand for recycled plastics is huge, especially for commodity plastics such as PP, PET, PS, LDPE and HDPE.

Automotive Market

India is the second fasted growing consumer market for Automobiles in the world (after China) and the seventh largest producer, with over 2.6 million motor vehicles being manufactured in India in 2009.

According to forecasts, automobile manufacturing in India is set to raise 7% year on year until 2015. Car manufacturers in India have reported significant increases in output over the last 12 months, specifically Tata Motors reporting a 32% increase in sales, Toyota Kirloska Motor at 26% and Ford India, a staggering 220% - due, in large part to the highly successful Ford Figo model.

Packaging Industry

Packaging currently accounts for the largest consumption of plastics in India, at 24% of overall consumption.

In January 2011 India’s Corporate Affairs Minister indicated that the country was set to lift foreign direct investment (FDI) restrictions for supermarket giants such as Tesco and Walmart (which currently has just six stores in India).

The Indian Government has highlighted the need for foreign investment to bring in new technology such as cold chain logistics systems, warehousing facilities and packaging technology. This will assist in in improving the rate at which food perishes before it reaches market – currently at around 40% per annum. This issues offer huge opportunities for plastics packaging manufacturers wishing to enter the market.

Opportunities for UK Plastics Companies in India

Plastindia 2012

The BPF recognises the potential for UK plastics manufacturers and service providers and together with support from UK Trade & Investment is encouraging British firms to explore the Indian market through Plastindia 2012.

Plastindia 2012 will take place between 1st and 6th February 2012 in New Delhi, India. The show is the largest plastics trade fair in India and the second largest plastics event anywhere in the world.

The show takes place once every three years and the previous edition attracted 1,518 exhibitors and 130,000 visitors.

The BPF have secured a key location at the show for the British Pavilion however space is in great demand and the deadline for companies wishing to securea a stand booking is 2nd September 2011.

Opportunities for UK Plastics Companies in India: A BPF Seminar

On the 20th October 2011 in the BPF’s office in London the BPF is holding a seminar looking in detail at the opportunities for UK plastics companies in India as well as practical advice from leading experts on doing business in India.

The one day highly informative seminat will bring together experts who will deliver presentations covering the legal aspects of doing buisness in India, taxation, getting paid in India as well as the business culture. Thanks to the support of UK Trade & Investment the delegates rates are only £100 for non members and £75 for BPF member companies.


Let us check out the different types of plastics engineering programs now. Let us start –

In simple terms, it is a branch of engineering that deals with the processing, design, development and production of plastics products.

Plastics engineering also deals with the production process of plastic products. Like in cases of other industries, the goal of plastic production process is to mass-produce plastic goods while keeping the costs low and quality high. Recycling and R&D also forms an integral part of plastics engineering.


In India, there exists different types of plastics engineering programs. These programs can be classified into different types on the basis of factors such as – academic level and course format.

Let us talk about the academic level first. Based on the academic level, plastics engineering programs in India can be broadly classified into the following types – UG, PG and Doctoral Degree programs.

UG stands for undergraduate level. PG stands for postgraduate level.

Let us talk about course formats now. Based on the format of the course, plastics engineering courses can be classified into the following types – Diploma in Engineering, B.E. or B.Tech., M.E. or M.Tech., M.Sc., PG Diploma, PG Certificate and PhD programs.

B.E. stands for Bachelor of Engineering. B.Tech. stands for Bachelor of Technology. M.E. stands for Master of Engineering and M.Tech. stands for Master of Technology. M.Sc. stands for Master of Science.


Here are some of the popular colleges offering plastics engineering courses in India –

 CIPET, IPT, Ahmedabad

 CIPET, IPT, Chennai

 CIPET, IPT, Bhubaneswar

 CIPET, IPT, Lucknow


 Anna University


 LD College of Engineering, Ahmedabad




Here is everything you need to know about plastics engineering admission process –

Admission Process may vary from one institute to another. Some institutes are known to conduct merit based admission process. Some other institutes are known to conduct direct admission process. When it comes to merit based admission process, relevant entrance exams are conducted to facilitate the admission process. Here’s a list of relevant entrance tests – list of engineering entrance exams.


Here are some of the core subjects present in plastics engineering curriculum –

 Engineering mathematics

 Engineering physics

 Engineering graphics

 Mechanics of Solids

 Engineering chemistry

 Computer application

 Material science

 Production process

 Polymer science

 Environmental science

 Fluid mechanics

 Polymer physics

 Plastics materials

 Mould manufacturing

 Compounding

 Plastics testing


Tuition fees depends upon the following factors – type of college (Government or self-financing), scholarship status of the student, rating of the college etc. On an average, tuition fees could be anywhere between –

 Diploma programs: 25-70K INR per year

 B.E. or B.Tech. programs: 80-150K INR per year

 M.E. or M.Tech. programs: 100-150K INR per year

 M.Sc. programs: 80-120K INR per year

 PG Diploma programs: 50-100K INR per year


Firms involved in production, processing and design of plastic products and materials are the prime recruiters. Polymer processing and production units are also known to hire them. Since plastic materials are also used in pharmaceutical sector, plastic engineers may find a job in this sector too.

Labs and research firms involved in research work (on plastic materials and relevant synthetic materials) are also known to hire plastic engineers. Refineries, oil and natural gas firms and petrochemical companies hire them. ONGC, OIL, Government refineries etc are some of the well known Government sector r

Frequently Asked question

Why you choose your career in plastic industry?

What are basic questions of production?

How does reducing plastic waste benefit the environment?

How much energy is saved by recycling plastic?

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