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Exporters catch ‘pneumonia’ over China import ban

Asia – The plastics recycling industry had become ‘insanely dependent’ on China and so its recently announced import ban has left suppliers in other parts of the world not so much with a cold but rather with ‘pneumonia’, argued Surendra Borad Patawari of Gemini Corporation at the latest BIR Convention in New Delhi.

China and Hong Kong together imported 10.2 million tons of plastics scrap in 2016 – but this figure is likely to nosedive next year, he warned.

According to a report submitted by Dr Steve Wong, executive president of the China Scrap Plastics Association, officials in China have confirmed that plastic scrap import licences will be issued for 2018.

However, these are likely to be handed only to those consuming factories boasting clean records and full compliance with environmental regulations.

As a result, imports into China could fall to 30-40% of normal levels next year, leaving overseas suppliers to find alternative outlets for perhaps 6 or 7 million tons of plastics scrap, Borad Patawari indicated.

The value of certain materials shipped in containers have crashed to zero – and beyond – in some instances; conversely, plastic scrap prices within China have soared as much as 20-30% on the back of shortages, it was reported.

The import ban has also led to the transfer of scrap processing capacities to other countries in the region such as Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

According to Rajesh Gauba, vice pesident of Recycling and Sustainability at major Indian business Reliance Industries, China’s new import policy will help boost its domestic recycling rate from the current low level of around 22%.

Indeed, he anticipated that China’s PET collection volumes will climb from 3.1 million tonnes in 2015 to nearer 4.1 million tonnes next year.


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