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The arrival of COVID-19 has provided the sector with a great opportunity to supply the growing demand for essential products such as face masks, surgical masks, and gloves, as well as the rise in plastic containers and packaging, which facilitate the disinfection of products and boost consumer confidence.
According to Acoplásticos, the industry's representative union, the demand for plastic medical supplies will also increase three- to four-fold. For example, the demand for face masks is projected to go from 20,000 units to 60,000 - 100,000 units per month. Likewise, the demand for surgical masks could go from 2 million to 8-10 million units per month. In fact, the Ministry of Health predicts that medical staff alone will require 34 million masks next year.
The demand for gloves, which are currently not produced domestically, also offers an opportunity, as demand is expected to reach 2 million units per month.
In addition to these positive forecasts, partnerships between various companies in the sector have formed in order to offer new solutions. One example is modular structures for hospitals, which, being made of plastic, allow for a lower-cost and lighter solution that is also easier to clean. Some of these structures will be donated in order to transform a Bogotá stadium into a makeshift medical facility and another to increase treatment capacity in a medium-sized municipality.
The Rubber and Plastic Institute for Training and Research (ICIPC, as per its Spanish acronym) has launched the campaign "Plastic saves lives." The aim is to search for solutions to the high demand for supplies due to the pandemic through partnerships between various companies in the industry.
These examples of reinvention have allowed Colombia’s plastic sector to respond to the market’s new needs, demonstrating that it has potential for growth as well as personnel trained to face new challenges that may arise.