The massive flow of plastic scrap shipments to Thailand and Vietnam after the market shift from China has far exceeded the permitted import volumes and the operation capacities of their main ports. This has resulted in thousands of containers being stuck at the ports for months with many being abandoned due to negative values, according to Dr Steve Wong, managing director of Fukutomi Company Limited and executive president of the China Scrap Plastics Association.
‘The environmental concern regarding the smuggling of highly contaminated electronic scrap has triggered tightening regulatory controls of plastic scrap imports by Thailand and has now virtually paralysed the normal trade flow into this country,’ says Wong.
Meanwhile, he adds, inspections of 2 240 plastic recycling factories in Thailand are being carried out to detect illegal imports of e-scrap.
‘This all is having a devastating effect on the recyclers, particularly those who moved their businesses from China due to the plastics import ban,’ says Wong. ‘Some of them will have to withdraw once again and may suffer enormous losses even before the start of factory operations.’
If the current situation continues, more shipping lines will no longer carry plastic scraps to these countries, he warns.
Idle at ports
Wong estimates some 30 000 containers were stuck at main Thai ports due to port capacity or import permit problems. ‘Similar issues were also seen in Vietnam causing ports such as Cat Lai to suspend unloading services,’ he says.
Wong adds that ‘thousands of containers’ have failed to be cleared by consignees for months. The likelihood of moving these containers from the port is getting very slim while demurrage charges are accumulating daily.
Next is Malaysia
‘Although Malaysia is still accepting plastic scrap shipments, market players are concerned that problems similar to that of Thailand and Vietnam will arise in the near future.’