29-04-20 Plastics industry notes during pandemic
These are the times to be in the plastics industry. So much of the world is shut down, but the plastics supply chain is still running. It has to run; it's critically important.
Sure, plastics workers are among the millions of people unemployed during the pandemic, especially in the automotive sector. But even as employers file dozens of layoff notices daily, relatively few have been in plastics.
Many plastics companies have jumped at the opportunity to use their spare capacity and their engineering expertise to make much-needed medical gear.
Some company, which started March 30, CEO said he couldn't remember a more important time to be in plastics.
"I've never in my career seen a time when our industry was more necessary and indispensable in the fight that we have on display today, the companies that we represent in the industry and that we do business with are collectively, and without exception, the one strong critical pillar of the economy, and for once, at least in the recent history, being in the chemicals or plastics business is not a bad name."
Unfortunately, that positive image comes at a great price. The economy is in rough shape. Many people are out of work. Health care workers, truckers, grocers and, yes, plastics workers may finally feel more valued. But they also may fear going to work and being exposed to the coronavirus while their neighbours are sheltering in place and streaming on TV.
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Early on, companies were just starting to take precautions. Next, the rules were much stricter, with lots of hand sanitizer and social distancing. Now there are procedures, protocols, new shift designs, telework; somehow formal or informally, organizations are in a position to adapt and strive through.
The plastics industry has learned a lot about how to avoid spreading the virus while remaining open as an essential industry.
Widely the world has learned something about the plastics industry, too, about its willingness to work hard and use all of its tools to save lives and help society in times of crisis. Work isn't finished, but better times will sure come ahead.
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