Overview of the French plastics industry
Last Published: 10/17/2016
Capital:            Paris               
Population:      66.6 million     
GDP:               US $2.8 trillion
Currency:        EURO
Language:       French

The plastics industry represents 1.5% of the French GDP. The total plastics value chain, including plastics converters, recyclers, machinery and molds suppliers and materials suppliers represents 231,700 employees, 4,900 companies and a value of USD 82.7 billon.
Raw Materials:
France ranked 2nd in Europe (after Germany) and produced around 4.6 million tons of plastic materials in 2014 (thermosets, thermoplastics and polyurethanes, adhesives, coatings and sealants *), which represents 7.8% of European production at 59 million tons. The plastics production in France and Europe overall is stable compared with China, the Middle East and Commonwealth Independent States which experienced a growth in production for the last couple of years (2014 world production of plastics raw materials = 260 million tons). 
(*Does not include the following fibers: PET-, PA-, PP- and polyacryl-fibers)

Two thirds of plastics demand in Europe is concentrated in five countries, including France. The plastics demand in France reached 5 million tons in 2014, which represents 9.6% of the European plastics demand (47.8 million tons) after Germany (24.9%) and Italy (14.3%).  The most used raw materials are: PE (polyethylene), PP (polypropylene), PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate).
Plastics demand in Europe in 2014 (Source: www.PlasticsEurope.org)

The United States is France’s eighth largest plastics trading partner. The United States’ top 8 partners are countries located in Europe except for China. France top partners are also European-based, including Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, U.K., Netherlands and Poland.

Table n. 1 - Plastic Raw Materials Exports and Imports between France and USA IN 2015
USA Exports of Plastic Raw Materials to France in 2015 (millions of USD)France Imports of Plastic Raw Materials to USA IN 2015 (millions of USD)
3911Petro Resins, Polysulfide3113
3902Polymers of Propylene2330
3907Polyether, Epoxides, Polyesters3124
3904Polymers of Vinyl Chloride2311
3906Acrylic Polymers1935
3901Polymers of Ethylene1032
3909Amino Resins & Polyurethanes813
3905Polymers of Vinyl Acetate52
(Source: Common Data Platform/ITA information)  
Plastics Processing:
The core activity of plastics converting accounts for 128,000 employees, 3,500 companies and USD 38.5 billion in turnover. Companies are mainly small and medium sized with an average of 36 employees per company.
France ranks third in Europe after Germany and Italy and sixth in the world after China, the United States and Japan in plastics converting (3.4% of the worldwide plastics industry turnover).
Sales of processed plastics products are broken down as follows: - Technical parts: 29% - Packaging: 25%, - Building products: 18%, - Semi-finished products: 18% - General consumer products: 10%. 
  Processed plastics products by application:

In 2014, exports increased by +4% over 2013 figures to USD 10.2 billion. Imports increased more slowly (+1.19%), reaching USD 14.8 billion. The European Union, mainly Germany, Belgium, U.K., Italy and Spain, absorb 75% of the French exports. Imports to France come principally from the European Union (78%), followed by China.
The United States sold USD 400 million in plastics products to France in 2015, as France sold USD 477 million in plastics products to the United States in 2015. The trade balance between the two countries is stable.  
Plastics Machinery:
France is one of the top 4 plastics machinery and equipment producing countries in Europe after Germany, Italy and Austria with a production share of 10% out of €13.5 billion. The French plastics machinery and equipment industry generated a turnover of around €1.3 billion in 2015, (plus € 410 million for molds) distributed as follows:
Domestic Production 2015:

(Source: Symacap)
The French consumption market for plastic and rubber equipment reached €920 million in 2015, including €540 millions of imported equipment). France ranks third in Europe after Germany (€2.1 billion) and Italy (€2 billion) in terms of consumption for plastic and rubber equipment.
The French plastics machinery and equipment industry is composed of small and medium-sized companies with a total workforce of 2,500 employees.
French manufacturers of plastics machinery and equipment sell the majority of their production within the European Union. Outside Europe, France’s main clients are: the United States, China and Mexico. Exports represented about 70% of the global 2015 production. The majority of machinery and equipment exported is blow molding machines, followed by mixing machines (33%), extrusion machines (20%), 13% injection machines and 5% presses.
Imports of plastic machinery mainly originate from Europe. 46% are mixing machines, 28% injection machines, 12% extrusion machines, 8% presses and 6% blow molding machines. The United States is the 5th largest supplier of machinery and equipment to France after Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. The U.S. exported $25.4 billion worth of machinery and molds in 2015 to France, mainly HTC 847790 ($11.5 billion), 847780 ($7.3 billion), 847720 ($3.1 billion) and 847759 ($2.5 billion).

Market Entry
 B2B marketplaces such as the trade shows listed below, direct purchase and marketing via wholesalers, distributors or agents are the main distribution channels in France for plastic materials and equipment.  For plastics machinery, a partner with repair capabilities and spare parts availability is necessary.  Price is an important factor in most transactions, as are quality and supplier reliability.
Customs duties for plastic raw materials are between 5% and 7%, as customs duties for plastic equipment are between 1% and 3%. U.S. exporters should consider the standard value-added French tax of 20% when exporting to Europe. 

Current Demand
France is focusing on intelligent plastics, bio-sourced plastics and composites. French companies have stopped producing commodity plastics in order to specialize in high tech plastic materials and high performance plastics. Increased competition is coming from China, the United States (due to inexpensive shale gas and oil), India, Middle-Eastern countries and Brazil (development of biofuels). Europe, including France, will focus on plastics using renewable energy sources as well as technologies allowing better plastics recyclability.
The French plastics industry will focus on innovation in products for 3D printing applications and on intelligent plastics for connected products. Industry 4.0 products and technologies for applications in the packaging, automotive, construction and medical industries should also meet with success.

Market Issues and Obstacles
Prior to exporting, U.S. manufacturers must determine whether their products need to be certified for the EU market.   Certification implies a conformity assessment (testing and certification) in order to declare compliance with EU regulatory requirements. For the majority of exported products, compliance is visibly indicated by the use of CE marking. Use of standards is part of the process.  Further information may be found at the following website:

  • REACH fundamentals:
In general, REACH requires the registration of chemical substances manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities exceeding 1 metric ton per year. This requirement applies per substance and per manufacturer or importer (as appropriate). Registration applies to chemical substances as such, in preparations (also called “mixtures”) and, under certain conditions, to articles (finished products) incorporating those substances.
REACH assigns the obligation to register on the EU based manufacturer or EU based importer. Non-EU based companies may appoint an “only representative” to manage their registration dossier. Only Representatives are commonly referred to by the acronym “OR”. Registrations are submitted to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) through the IUCLID website (http://iuclid.eu/).

When entering the market, registration is mandatory, yet, pre-registration is possible. With pre-registration an exporter or manufacturer mentions his intend to register a given substance in time for the final registration deadline. In the meantime the exporter or manufacturer remains the right to circulate the product on the EU market. The deadline for pre-registration is no later than May 31st, 2017. The deadline for actual registration is no later than May 31st, 2018.
REACH exempts a limited number of chemical substances and certain uses of chemicals from registration. Specifically, these exemptions apply to:
  • Chemical substances imported into the EU or manufactured in quantities below 1 metric ton;
  • Chemical substances used for research and development;
  • Waste;
  • Chemical substances whose uses are covered by other EU legislation such as medicine and food products;
  • Pesticides and biocides;
  • Polymers; and,
  • Companies that had notified chemical substances under previous EU legislation (Directive 67/548/EEC).(For more information: http://2016.export.gov/europeanunion/reachclp/index.asp)
  • EU measures on plastic materials and articles:
  • EU regulations on machinery:

Post-Consumer Waste
Thanks to continuous improvement in plastics end-of-life management options, a growing public awareness and legal changes, collected quantities of plastics for recycling increased by 64% from 2006 – 2014 in the EU28 + Norway and Switzerland. Collected post-consumer waste reached 25.8 million tons in Europe in 2014. Out of these, 7.66 million tons were recycled and 10.20 million tons were energy recovered. Plastics packaging has the highest recycling and energy recovery rates. 7.95 million tons still went to landfill.
The collected quantity of plastics for energy recovery increased by 46% between 2006 and 2014. The collected quantity of plastics for recycling increased by 64% and the quantity of collected plastics still going to landfill decreased by 38%.

Trade Events
Name of Event:  K Show 2016
Date:  October 19-26, 2016
Location:  Dusseldorf, Germany
Website:  http://www.k-online.com/
Description:  Overview of the entire plastic industry: raw materials, molds, machinery, tools.
Name of Event:  Europack - Euromanut
Date: November 31-23, 2017
Location: Eurexpo Lyon, France
Website: http://www.europack-euromanut-cfia.com/en/
Description:  Plastic materials and machinery for packaging applications
Name of Event:  FIP Solution Plastique
Date: June 13-16, 2017
Location: Eurexpo Lyon, France
Website:  http://www.f-i-p.com/en/
Description:  Overview of the entire plastic industry: raw materials, molds, machinery, tools.
Name of Event: Plastics Meetings BtoB event
Date: June, 2018
Location: Espace Tête d’Or, Lyon, France
Website: http://www.plastics-meetings.com/en/
Description: Pre-screened BtoB meetings with decision makers / major French users of plastic materials and equipment.

Useful Contact Information
French Plastics Federation:
Plastics Europe
Plastics Converters
Plastics Recycling
Stephanie Pencole/ U.S. Commercial Service / U.S. Embassy Paris
Email: Stephanie.Pencole@trade.gov
Phone: + 33 (0)1 43 12 71 38


Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

France Plastic Materials and Resins Plastic Products Trade Development and Promotion