Friday, March 24, 2023

Plastic industry contributed RD$65,899 million to the Dominican economy in 2021

Plastic is present in all aspects of modern daily life. That includes the Dominican economy. In fact, the manufacture of products derived from the so-called “polymers” has become increasingly relevant at the local level. This is evidenced in its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), which totaled RD$65,899 million in 2021.

Percentage speaking, it represented 1.2% of GDP, according to a study carried out by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Mipymes (Micm). However, it is a reality worldwide. According to the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (Unctad), the world trade in plastics exceeds one trillion dollars a year. That is, it represents 5% of trade in the world.

According to data from Plastics Europe, only in 2019, its production was 368 million tons, a figure that is increasing. Asia presented the highest proportion with 48%, China standing out with 32% worldwide, while North America contributed 19% and Europe around 15%.


A comment that people who use reusable fabric bags usually receive, to justify the use of plastic bags in supermarkets, is “where will they dispose of the waste or garbage?” It’s understandable. Even when avoided, a large proportion of food comes in plastic packaging.

A study by the Plastic Training and Research Center (CCIP) determined that products that use plastic as the main packaging material represent 73% of the space in gondolas. Those who use it as a secondary material imply 8% and those who do not use it, 19%.

This is how it is taken for granted that plastic is considered essential both for the daily chores of homes and for the world’s productive apparatus. Its versatility, duration, low cost, safety, and lightness make it a key material in various sectors, such as: agriculture, industry, food, medicine, telecommunications, and transportation.

The Dominican Republic, in this sense, by 2021 had at least 472 industries dedicated to the “production of plastic products”. The reason why such a polluting industry prospers is precisely because of its contradiction: they work as a barrier against contaminants, prolonging the useful life of food. The United Nations (UN) estimated that 931 million tons of food were wasted in 2019. That represented 17% of the total food available to consumers that year.

Regarding the percentage (1.2%) that the plastics industry contributes to GDP, 53.3% does so directly, 40.2% is indirect, and the remaining 6.5% corresponds to the induced impact.

According to the study, companies in the sector themselves generate a high contribution to the economy and play a key role in enabling the activities of other sectors. Only the added value of the plastics industry represents approximately 57.5% of the production of that sector, according to data from the Central Bank. That is, it was approximately RD$35,136.5 million.

For its part, the contribution through the acquisition of local inputs and services from suppliers, that is, the indirect effect, amounted to RD$3,914 million. This contribution corresponds to 79.6% (RD$3,116 million) to purchases from service sectors (commerce, electricity, gas and water) and 20.4% (RD$799 million) to purchases of inputs from manufacturing industries and raw materials.

The contribution generated by the sales, distribution, logistics and recycling systems amounts to RD$22,549 million. 81.9% (RD$18,467 million) corresponds to sales to the service sectors and 18.1% (RD$4,082 million) to the sale of plastics to the manufacturing activity and raw materials (drinks, soaps and detergents and other industries). In other words, plastic permeates almost every subsector of the local economy.


Just as the Dominican GDP finds support in plastics, hundreds of families do too. In 2021, it is estimated that the number of jobs generated by this industry amounted to 41,485, with 47.8% (19,850) indirectly. Of these, 6,291 (31.7%) are employed in sectors that provide raw materials and services to the plastics industries for their operation; while 13,559 people (68.3%) work in sectors that use it as an input or that sell it.

Of the total jobs (41,485), 38.2% were directly generated by their production in the country. That is, 15,846 workers are dedicated specifically to the production of plastic products, while the remaining 14.0% corresponds to the induced effect of household consumption.

The latter are estimated at 5,789, mostly in the food and non-alcoholic beverages, education, hotels and restaurants, and various goods and services industries. During that year, the amount paid in salaries to employees of the entire value chain of the plastics sector was RD$11,124 million. Here the table changes. Although the majority of jobs are generated indirectly, 43.8% of the total amount, that is, RD$4,871 million, correspond to salaries paid directly to employees in the sector.

Indirect employees, for their part, captured 37.0% (RD$4,116 million) distributed in total payments of RD$1,532 million to those who were dedicated to providing services and raw materials and RD$2,584 million to those who distribute, market and consume plastic products.

The remaining 19.2% (RD$2,137 million) corresponds to those who occupy jobs generated by the induced effect. An outstanding fact in the study is that the plastics industries have a higher average monthly salary than the rest of the sectors with which it is linked.


When the contributions to the treasury of the plastics sector are observed, they amount to RD$11,127 million. Direct tax contributions represented 34.8%, while indirect ones 53.9%. In figures, while the first implied RD$3,867 million, the second was RD$5,999 million.

The effect induced in tax contributions, that is, what is contributed by other sectors of the economy that receive income resulting from the spending of direct and indirect workers in the plastics industries, is RD$1,261 million.

The Dominican Republic not only makes them for local consumption. The exports of these materials reached approximately US$546.0 million, of which 54.8% (US$299.5 million) correspond to companies in the national regime and 45.2% (US$246.6 million) to free zones.

In 2021, 89.6% of plastic products were exported in their manufactured form (US$489.0 million), 8.1% in their primary form (US$44.0 million) and 2.4% in the form of waste (US$13.0 million). Exports of plastic products were destined for 94 markets, the United States being the main one, reaching exports in the amount of US$195.6 million; followed by Haiti, with an amount of US$139.0 million; Puerto Rico with US$87.0 million; Jamaica with US$20.5 million; Trinidad and Tobago with US$12.8 million; and Costa Rica with US$12.2 million.

In the case of plastic imports, the amount doubles: US$1,903 million in 2021 alone. Companies under the national regime imported 50.8% (US$967 million), the remaining 49.2% (US$936 million) were for free zone companies.

waste management

The Global Plastics Outlook report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that the world produces twice as much solid waste as it did two decades ago. Although a large amount of plastic waste can be seen on Dominican streets on a daily basis, in reality, the country exports it. In fact, they are classified under heading 3915 “plastic scrap, scrap and scrap”.

In 2021 they amounted to 25,107 tons. It is estimated that a diver (plastic collector) collects approximately 250 pounds (lbs) in a day, which is equivalent to 0.11 tons (tons). Per month, it is equivalent to 5,000 lbs (2.27 tons), so the study concludes that, in a year, a diver collects approximately 60,000 lbs (27.22 tons) of plastic waste.

As for the companies dedicated to the recycling of plastic products, it is estimated that they collected 26,938 tons of plastic waste during 2021, of which they exported 90%. Likewise, in terms of employability, approximately 1,650 people were dedicated to the collection, classification and processing of plastics, which shows the importance and potential of this sector to increase jobs in the country.


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