Plastic is a material comprising of any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds that are soft and flexible and therefore can be molded into solid objects. In recent years, the use of plastic has increased tremendously as plastic has substituted other materials such as metal, paper, ceramics, glass and wood due to its strong characteristics of light weight, heat resistance, durability and much more. Presently, plastic is extensively used in a wide range of products including, kitchen utensils, auto mobiles, home appliances, packaging, electronics, construction etc.
The plastic industry is recognized as one of the fastest emerging industry that cater for the needs of local packaging, automobile, home appliances and construction sector. According to SBP study, there are about 6,000 plastic units in Pakistan, from which 60% are in Punjab with 360,000 workforce, 30% in Sindh with 180,000 workforce, 7% in NWFP with 42,000 workforce and 3% in Baluchistan with 18,000 workforce. Within Punjab industry is predominantly scattered in the
major cities like, Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Gujrat. Primarily, Lahore and Gujranwala are famous for production of high end products and comprise of medium to large size enterprises, working as organized sector. Whereas, plastic industry in Rawalpindi is unorganized and comprises of a large number of small or cottage level units with exception of few medium and large units.
The manufacturing of plastic products in Rawalpindi started with production of low profile plastic products, especially, general purpose shoes (chapels) and sleeper, bottles and simple kitchen items (jars, containers, storage boxes etc.). With the passage of time, cluster has transformed from a conventional low tech manufacturing of basic plastic products to a semi-automated manufacturing of wide range of plastic products relating to packaging, automobile, construction and kitchen utensils sector. The cluster is progressing towards high-tech manufacturing with machinery imported from Japan, Korea, Italy, Taiwan, Hong Kong, England, China and Germany. However, majority of units are still operating on low scale with obsolete and conventional technologies and suffer with the issues relating to managing operations, product standardization and skill competencies.
Presently, Rawalpindi plastic products manufacturing cluster is comprising of around 3001 manufacturing units and is providing direct employment opportunities to around 5,000 people. The cluster is primarily catering for the domestic market needs, especially at local Rawalpindi level and adjoining regions. However, large units have been able to establish sales networks across the country and exporting as well.