The economic impact of the $310 billion plastics industry on the overall U.S. economy in 2002 is the focus of "The Size and Impact of the U.S. Plastics Industry," a study released by the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. (SPI), Washington. The study analyzes each of the major branches of the industry: plastics materials and resins, plastics products, and molds for plastics. The study also covers plastics wholesale trade and includes data on captive plastic product manufacturing such as automobiles or electronics, which are not classified as part of the plastics industry per se.

The December 2003 study shows that plastics products manufacturing, which accounts for most of the plastics processing industry, is the fourth largest U.S. manufacturing industry in the dollar value of shipments. The product manufacturing sector showed a decrease in the value of industrial shipments of 5 percent and a decrease of 8.8 percent in the number of employees from 2000 to 2002.

Dollar shipments of plastics materials and resins fell 14.7 percent and shipments of plastics working machinery rose 8.9 percent for the same period. The compound annual growth rate for all industry sectors, excluding captives, was -5.4 percent for 2000 to 2002.

An executive summary and table of contents of the study as well as state-by-state and regional fact sheets are available by calling (800) 541-0736 or online at