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Declines across all US scrap exports in April

April was a challenging month for US scrap exporters, according to the latest Census Bureau trade data, with lower tonnages across all sectors.

The statistics, collated by the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, show ferrous scrap exports (excluding stainless steel and alloy steel scrap) declining from 1.30 million tonnes in March to 1.05 million tonnes in April. But the strong start to the year has ensured year-on-year growth for the first four months to reach 5.16 million tonnes (12.4% up year-on-year). In that period there were major gains to Turkey (+22.3%), Malaysia (+91.4%), Mexico (+56.7%), Bangladesh (+53.4%), Pakistan (+38.8%) and Thailand (+193%). This has more than offset reductions in trade with South Korea, Vietnam, Canada and Indonesia.

Non-ferrous decline

Meanwhile, the non-ferrous data shows copper and copper alloy scrap exports from the US declined from around 64 000 tonnes in March to 53,327 tonnes in April, with fewer shipments to India a major contributor.
So far this year, US copper scrap exports are down 21% to 242 000 tonnes. The most significant falls in April were to Malaysia (-38%), China (-40%) and Canada (-20%), more than offsetting gains to South Korea, Germany, Belgium and Vietnam.
Aluminium scrap exports declined from 163 000 tonnes in March to 124 400 tonnes in April, following reduced trade with India, Canada and Mexico. For the year to date, scrap exports from January to April are down 6.5% to 582 175 tonnes.


India has become the largest export market for the US this year with shipments up 28%, while exports to Malaysia are up 69%. The gains, however, have been more than offset by reduced shipments to China (-58%), Hong Kong (-23%) and Canada (-24%).

The Census Bureau data also shows that plastic exports decreased nearly 10% in April to 42 138 tonnes while the monthly total was down 34% on April 2019.

Paper exports in April were down on March, by 16.7%, to a total of 1 056 057 tonnes and down more than 30% on April 2019. During the first four months of 2020, paper exports were down 18.6% on the same period in 2019 to 4 774 575 tonnes. All types were down in April, with newsprint registering a record 34% slump.

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