As most of us know, businesses will keep enough products stocked to meet the daily demand of their consumers, but what happens when that demand suddenly increases exponentially overnight. You probably already know the answer, prices go up, availability is near non-existent, and orders can start to take weeks to fill. Most businesses and developers are currently feeling that in a big way with one material in particular: plastic. Plastic is used in an extraordinarily large number of items that we use every day, from food and beverage containers and medicine bottles to storm drainage pipes, DIY supplies for those working on projects at the house, and consumer electronics.
This reduced supply stems from back at the beginning of 2020 when Covid first spread across the US. Workers and refineries were either forced to close down or work at a reduced capacity, while shipping companies that supply the raw materials for plastics were forced to do the same due to the lockdown. At the same time, demand for these materials increased drastically to the point that demand exceeded supply, and existing stockpiles of the materials were expended. Supply suffered further delays in production when winter storm Uri hit Texas and Louisiana, two states which contain a majority of the processing plants required to make plastic. Utility infrastructure in both states suffered widespread damage due to the deep freeze furthering the deficit. Production at these facilities is slowly starting to ramp back up, but it will be a while before they are back at 100%.
Another side effect of Covid on the plastic industry is the increased demand for single-use plastic cups and masks. While these products help to prevent the spread, people have the habit of discarding these wherever they feel. A good practice to keep is to limit the use of one-time items as much as possible to reduce their future impact on the environment.
Fortunately, production at the plants has resumed, and those much-needed materials are starting to be produced and shipped to those who need them, and much like Covid, the raw material deficit will pass.