A surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the pandemic has resulted in a spike in demand for certain plastics, specifically in the medical industry. Standard plastics are sourced from crude oil and are non-renewables. These plastics generally include PVC, PMMA, PE, PS, PP, and EVA. The major applications of these plastics include the manufacturing of masks, drapes, gowns, gloves, trays, catheters, syringes, surgical tools, and lab wares. The increased requirements of PPE will boost consumption of standard plastics such as PP, PE, and PVC drive demand.

The supply squeeze on personal protective equipment nationwide has the federal government looking into shortening the supply chain for these and other high-demand products. Establishing PPE factories here in the US is now being seriously considered. Manufacturing on-shore would mean more jobs opportunities for US workers, it would also mean a faster turnaround of PPE to the hospitals that need it.

The plastics industry has taken a hit in recent years due to environmental concerns and the recent ban on plastic bags. With the PPE manufacturing boom, plastics may now be viewed in a very different light. Once the Coronavirus winds down and the economy begins to recover, the crucial role of plastics in fighting the resurgence of another pandemic could inspire a continuing demand for PPE, resulting in even more jobs in the plastics industry moving forward.