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From Plastics to Energy: 2023 Trends to Watch

Jan. 13, 2023
A summary of key economic indicators that will impact the chemical industry this year from Endeavor Business Media.

IndustryWeek recently posted an economic outlook roundup from 23 Endeavor Business Media publications. If you don’t know already, Endeavor is the parent company of Chemical Processing magazine.

Many of the trends mentioned in the recap are relevant to CP readers. I took the time to visit each article and cherry picked some of the more pertinent points for our audience. So, here they are:

Looking ahead to 2023 winners and losers” by Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing Editor Ron Shinn:

  • Consumer spending on plastics products “is on a slow, upward climb.” The semiconductor shortage will continue to hamper growth in the auto industry and related plastics demand.
  • Backlash against the plastics waste will intensify, including calls to reduce plastics production.
  • Plastics recycling will experience significant growth, as evidenced by “massive recent investment” from virgin resin manufacturers in advanced recycling plants. “In a short time, there will be significant capacity coming online,” writes Shinn. “Advanced recycling could begin to make an impact in 2023 or soon after. But we still have not solved the problems of collection and sorting,” he adds.
  • The European plastics industry is off to a challenging start due to a number of global factors, including the war in Ukraine. The outlook seems more optimistic for the North American market, with 87% of processors in North America saying their business will be better or about the same in 2023 as it was in 2022.

What Will the Supply Chain Look Like in 2023?” by Material Handling & Logistics staff: 

  • Citing a report from KPMG: More than 6 out of 10 global organizations expect that geopolitical instability may have a detrimental impact on their supply chains in the next 3 years.
  • Cybercriminals will continue to pose a threat to supply chains.
  • 71% of global companies highlight raw material costs as their number one supply chain threat for 2023.
  • Investment in the industrial internet of things, or digitalization, strategies will continue. Six in 10 organizations plan to invest in digital technology to bolster their supply chain processes, data synthesis, and analysis capabilities.
  • According to KPMG, 53% of organizations plan to increase their focus on sustainable sourcing.

"Five Trends in Energy I’ll Watch in 2023” by T&D World’s Teresa Hansen:

  • Investments in renewable sources, such and wind and solar, continue to outpace traditional fossil fuels for power generation, but natural gas has an edge in reliability. While not carbon free, natural gas-fired power will remain strong as a reliable, continuous source of energy. Natural gas prices have been falling, and the grid cannot withstand major disruptions, such as storms, without a steady power source.
  • Cybersecurity will become an increasing focus for the U.S. power infrastructure as threats proliferate.
  • Fusion energy is a potential breakthrough. As Hansen states, “On Dec. 5, the team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California surpassed the fusion threshold by achieving 3.15 MJ of fusion energy output with only 2.05 MJ delivered to the plasma target. This is a breakthrough more than 60 years in the making. I know it will be years in the future and billions of dollars spent before this technology makes it to mainstream, but when it does, the world of energy will be changed forever.”

We will continue to follow up on these trends and others. Take some time to look at CP’s past industry outlook coverage (related content below) and stay tuned for an upcoming article looking at key regulatory issues impacting the chemical industry in 2023.

Related Coverage

2023 Chemical Industry Outlook: Brace for Challenges

Podcast: Lessons Learned From 2022 Process-Safety Incidents

Plastics Recycling in Review

About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Executive Editor

Jonathan Katz, executive editor, brings nearly two decades of experience as a B2B journalist to Chemical Processing magazine. He has expertise on a wide range of industrial topics. Jon previously served as the managing editor for IndustryWeek magazine and, most recently, as a freelance writer specializing in content marketing for the manufacturing sector.

His knowledge areas include industrial safety, environmental compliance/sustainability, lean manufacturing/continuous improvement, Industry 4.0/automation and many other topics of interest to the Chemical Processing audience.

When he’s not working, Jon enjoys fishing, hiking and music, including a small but growing vinyl collection.

Jon resides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.

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