While visitors to the NPE trade show in Orlando, Florida, are sure to have seen Austrian giants such as Engel and Greiner, one organization is highlighting the smaller plastics companies the country has to offer.
The Plastics Cluster, part of Clusterland Upper Austria, says it is taking part in NPE to help promote the Austrian plastics industry, as well as encourage dialogue between Austrian and foreign businesses.
“We're hoping to promote Austria's industry here in the United States because it's hard for our companies to internationalize themselves,” said spokesperson Anke Merkl-Rachbauer. “They work well in Europe but it becomes a lot harder once they cross over to the United States or go the other way towards Asia.”
Merkl-Rachbauer says it is hard to know exactly how much cooperation there is between Austrian and American plastics firms but estimates that most companies will conduct around 5-20% of their business with the US.
Several Austrian companies are exhibiting at an ‘Advantage Austria' stand at NPE this year, including mould makers such as Elmet and IFW, extrusion specialists like SBI and Kuag, and companies with recycling expertise, for example Lindner-Recyclingtech.
According to the cluster, Austria is a very attractive market for plastics companies because of its central position within Europe as well as governmental tax breaks.
“Austria is an R&D centre, which our government recognizes,” said Merkl-Rachbauer. “Some 10% of R&D expenses are refunded in cash.”
During an SPI conference, the Austria cluster highlighted several overall trends in the European plastics industry, with bioplastics and recycling being a particular strength. According to speaker Sandra Koerner, the European Union recovers double the amount of plastics waste than the US does. And the EU accounts for 24.9% of world's bottle collection, compared to America's 15.2%.
Bioplastics and carbon reduction are also very important in Europe, she added, highlighting sustainable Austrian innovations such as the Trodat Printy 4.0, which the company says is the world's first carbon neutral stamp, made with up to 65% post-consumer recycled plastics. Austria is also a leader in bioplastics, with 125 companies in the country involved in this area.
Cluster Upper Austria was established in 2005 with the aim of improving the competitiveness of businesses in the Upper Austria region. Other clusters in the group include automotive, mechatronics, environmental technology, and design and media.