BPF members fear turnover drop as coronavirus looms

Almost 80 per cent of British Plastics Federation (BPF) members expect a drop in turnover over the next six months as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a survey released by the BPF today (20 March), 98 per cent of members expressed concern over the coronavirus’ impact on business operations.

Almost 90 per cent said they expected the coronavirus to impact their supply chains over the next three months, while more than half stated that it had impacted their staff’s ability to work.

The BPF has asked the UK government to classify the plastics industry as a key part of the national infrastructure.

In a letter sent to the government yesterday (19 March), BPF director general Philip Law called for the “urgent introduction of measures to ensure the continued provision of essential household and pharmaceutical goods across the UK”.

He warned that unless changes were made, “in particular the recognition of key parts of the plastics sector as critical infrastructure”, manufacturing industry would not be able to meet demand.

Following a request from the government, the survey examined whether BPF members were able to provide the NHS and government with assistance in dealing with the pandemic.

Nearly a third of plastics companies surveyed said they could potentially use their facilities to provide products and services that could be used by the NHS, or the government, to help fight the coronavirus.

Their details have been passed on to the government by the BPF.

Across the industry, the survey found that 25 per cent of the workforce could potentially work from home. Among plastics processors that number fell to 18 per cent.

With 127 members responding in a few hours, the BPF said the survey results provided an “accurate picture” of the UK’s third largest manufacturing sector during this unprecedented time.

Law said: “I wrote to the government yesterday to explain why the plastics industry should be classified as a key part of the national infrastructure and that many of its workers and their skills are critical in the production of much needed products.

He said that it came as “no surprise” the BPF members and the industry were expecting major challenges in the weeks and months ahead.

“This survey demonstrates that the plastics industry is a crucial, strategic industry playing a pivotal role in national security and in ensuring we as a country can effectively fight the coronavirus,” Law added.

“We urge the government to provide the essential support to keep manufacturers and their supply chains in operation, so the nation can be safely fed, professionally cared for and that vital infrastructure, such as drainage and waste management is supported.”The BPF has created Covid-19 guidance for manufacturers to help limit the spread of the virus, alongside useful information from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Public Health England.