The GCC plastics industry is set to grow and diversify over the next five years, according to the latest findings from the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA), the region’s longest-standing trade association.Over the last five years, the region’s plastic production capacity has almost doubled, rising from 12.7 million tons in 2008, to 24.7 million tons in 2013. Plastics—also referred to as polymers—currently account for 17 percent of the GCC’s 144.3 million-ton petrochemical capacity. “Since the industry began production in the early- 1980s, plastics production in the Gulf has developed in a sustained and steady pattern. However, recent investments by the region’s petrochemical players will usher in a period of portfolio diversification,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, GPCA’s Secretary General. The plastics industry also earns valuable revenues. In 2012, the sale of plastic products resulted in $29.08 billion in revenues, or 35.6 percent of the region’s total $81.7 billion earnings. Saudi Arabia leads the region’s plastics industry, producing an estimated 18.4 million tons, over 74 percent of the region’s polymer production capacity. An emerging trend for the GCC’s plastic industry will be the diversification of its products portfolio, for wide ranging applications in the aviation, transport and food packaging sectors. By 2017, the region will produce 23 plastic products; more than double the current amount. “This positive development signals that GCC plastics producers are set to grow and evolve their processes, eventually giving them the position as a market leader in innovation,” said Dr. Sadoun.Innovation in the plastics industry will be the focus of Plasticon 2014, organized by the GPCA. Held in conjunction with Plastivision ARABIA, the event will focus on the how innovation can lead to global and regional growth of the plastics conversion industry.Now in its fifth edition, panel sessions at the conference will host senior executives from SABIC, Borouge and Sadara Chemical Company. Plasticon 2014 will also feature the fourth edition of the Plastics Innovation Awards sponsored by Sabic. Trophies will be awarded to students, academics and industry players who have made a special contribution to improve the application, economics or manufacture of plastics. Winners will be announced on April 8th and will be chosen by a jury comprising the heads of plastic innovation centers in the region and independent consultants from the plastics conversion industry. Plasticon 2014  will be held on April 7- 9 at the Expo Centre, Sharjah.