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Milliken sanguine on nation's plastics market

By WANG KEJU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-26 10:47
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China's ongoing pursuit of high-quality economic development, fueled by technology and innovation, is fostering a more enabling ecosystem for businesses and opening up massive market opportunities for global businesses seeking growth and expansion, said a senior executive.

The world's second-largest economy's growth, while no longer in double digits as it was a decade ago, continues to maintain a medium-high rate based on a high aggregate, said Cindy Boiter, executive vice-president of Milliken &Co and president of Milliken Chemical Business — a specialty chemical and performance materials company in the United States — in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

"The Chinese government has set an economic growth target of around 5 percent for 2024. In the medium term, China will continue to be a key contributor to global economic growth. The long-term fundamentals of China's economy remain intact despite pressures and challenges," Boiter said.

China's transition toward a more innovation- and technology-driven economy has played a crucial role in sustaining growth, she said, adding that the resilience and adaptability displayed by China's economy over the years provide confidence in its ability to overcome these challenges and maintain steady growth.

In particular, China has been one of the largest consumers and producers of polyolefins globally, driven by rapid urbanization, industrialization and rising consumer demand. The country's strong manufacturing base and expanding middle-income group have fueled demand for polyolefin products.

According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, China's cumulative plastic products manufacturing output reached 74.89 million metric tons in 2023, up 3 percent year-on-year.

The revival in plastic products production aligns with broader economic trends, reflecting the resilience and adaptability of China's manufacturing sector, Boiter said.

China's pursuit of its dual carbon goals, aiming to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, serves as a catalyst for various sectors aligned with sustainable development. Notably, the country's focus on the circular economy has gained momentum.

To transform today's linear plastics economy into a circular one where plastics retain their value, a collective effort toward innovation and technology is needed, as is an integrated approach that involves all sectors of society, including government, private businesses and academia, Boiter said.

Global plastic recycling rates, as shown by a white paper released by China Petrochemical Corp in April last year, are projected to significantly increase, reaching an estimated 50 percent by 2030, thanks to advancements in recycling technology and increased production capacity.

"We have expanded our innovation gallery and expanded our Shanghai Packaging Innovation Center recently. It is now the biggest research and development center outside our headquarters in the US," said Boiter, adding that the company leverages partnerships at local research institutions and universities, bringing technical expertise together to advance future innovations.

"Moving forward, we are committed to the strategy of 'in China, for China', emphasizing further penetration into the Chinese market to drive the high-quality development of the polyolefin industry," she said.

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