Industry Profile

With over 2,422 companies employing 76,530 workers, Canadas $17.6 billion plastics industry is a sophisticated, multi-faceted sector encompassing plastic products manufacturing, machinery, moulds, and resins.[1]

The industry is vital to Canada’s global competitiveness as, increasingly, plastic products are being used in a wide array of consumer goods, as well as in advanced applications including telecommunications, electronics, aviation and aerospace, medicine and life sciences, building materials, automotive, and renewable energy.

Canadian machinery manufacturers have gained an international reputation for high quality injection moulding, thermoforming machinery, blown film extrusion systems, extruders for corrugated pipe and other plastic profiles. The top three, and six of the top 10 North American mould makers in 2008, were Canadian companies.[4]

Many benefits accrue to Canada and its citizens because of the industry’s strong commitment to growing its business in this country. In addition to higher-value jobs, the plastics sector contributes significantly to taxes, exports, and GDP.

Plastics manufacturing is an important engine of the economy. It has grown faster than the general economy, and twice as fast as other manufacturing businesses over the past decade. As well, it has been less cyclical than some other sectors as plastic materials are now used in such a broad range of end-products.

Canadian exports of plastic products have grown spectacularly from 18 percent of total shipments in 1990 to 44 percent in 2008.[5]

Plastic is also a ‘green’ industry. It pioneered the blue box; many of its products can be recycled and remanufactured; and as a substitute for glass, paper and metal, plastics help cut transportation costs, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Globally, plastics will be one of the industries that drive innovation, technology, and the knowledge jobs of the future. It has been and can continue to be a key plank in this country’s economic development platform.

Plastics firms are located in every province, and often they anchor employment in many smaller and medium-sized communities.

It is estimated that about 95 percent of this sector is Canadian-owned.[6] There are many hundreds of SMEs, and about a dozen large firms (500+ employees) operating domestically.

The industry is concentrated in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. In fact, Ontario is now the third largest plastics-producing region in North America. [7]

With the support of government, Canada can become a leader in plastics manufacturing, research and development, product design, and new technology.

[1] StatsCan, June 2014.  

[4] Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Invest in Canada.  

[5] Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Invest in Canada.  

[6] Ibid.  

[7] U.S. Department of Commerce.