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Other buyers fail to offset drop in China’s plastics scrap imports

Global – Latest statistics coming out of America’s Census Bureau and International Trade Commission provide further evidence of the impact of China’s new restrictions on the recovered paper and scrap plastics sectors.

US plastics scrap shipments to China dwindled from 150 630 tonnes in January-February 2017 to 10 476 tonnes in this year’s corresponding period.

The three largest export markets for US plastics scrap in the opening two months of 2018 were Malaysia (+728.7% year on year to 45 550 tonnes), Vietnam (+129.3% to 25 527 tonnes) and Thailand (+2908.7% to 22 467 tonnes).

To all destinations, however, US plastics scrap exports were 40% lower in the opening two months of this year at 200 424 tonnes.

‘China’s Blue Sky Initiative has spurred a slew of investment activity in the US polymer processing market,’ according to the latest Weekly Market Report from the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. ‘The reports of new research or technology implementation are on a nearly daily basis.’

Specifically, it notes that Indorama and Ioniqa may have developed a technology ‘that can more effectively recycle PET plastics in a process that will remove colourants and other contaminants’.

Furthermore, Chinese companies are investing in the USA in order to ‘work around the import ban by moving secondary recycling processes to the USA and exporting the direct manufacturing inputs to China’, according to the Weekly Report.

One such project is said to be an aseptic carton recycling plant in South Carolina.

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