The plastic products industry in the United States can be gauged in a multitude of ways and is comprised of several different sectors, such as consumer products, plastic packaging, industrial machinery, and plastic for the automotive industry. When discussing industry growth, several figures come into play: industry revenue and industry gross product. Because of the economic recession in 2008 that had devastating effects on many industrial sectors, plastic production also suffered. In 2008, plastic production industry revenue was estimated at $100,599 million, but industry growth suffered a 2.4 percent decrease because of the recession. Still, gross production hit $56, 304.1 million, with industry employment at an estimated 496,808 jobs. Exported products grossed $11,279.7 million while imported products grossed $14,728.5 million.
In terms of market share, fabricated plastic products for transportation applications dominated around 20 percent of the market, the largest sector, with consumer, institutional, and commercial fabricated plastic products holding around 16 percent. Miscellaneous and other plastic products wedged in between, to hold around 18 percent of the market share. Plastic packaging was another dominant sector, at around 14 percent of the market share.
The primary material used in plastic products is plastic resin, and the top fifty resin manufacturing companies dominate around 85 percent of the resin market. Resin is made commercially available either as a thermomset or a thermoplastic—thermosets harden permanently after heat curing, while thermoplastics can be re-melted—and both are used extensively as synthetic fibers in products or to create a composite material. Because so many plastic products depend on resin, the level of demand for resin is greatly influenced by consumer demand for plastic products. As demand for plastic products decreased as a result of the recession in 2008, the demand for resin did also.