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Plastic scrap: ‘alternative markets will need to be explored’

Global – China’s clampdown on plastic waste imports is ‘disheartening news’ for US exporters as their shipments to that destination had been on a rising curve, according to the latest weekly market report from the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).

Comparing month-to-month volumes for the year to May, Chinese imports of polyethylene scrap have dropped by approximately 50% since March. India, Vietnam and Taiwan recorded the largest growth in consumption over this period. ‘For PET exports, China’s recent demand declines appeared to track ton-for-ton with Hong Kong’s demand increases,’ the ISRI publication points out.

‘Since quality upgrades may not circumvent the import bans that the Chinese government plans to implement, alternative markets and vertical supply chain expansion will need to be explored,’ the report continues. ‘From an established consumption capacity perspective, there isn’t a single market that can provide an alternative to China.’ Vertical supply chain expansion would involve ‘the adoption of more advanced sorting, cleaning and processing equipment to produce a more refined product that would also be more appealing to domestic consumers’, it adds.

While new consumption markets appear to be generally ‘polymer specific’, Mexico and Malaysia have been ‘notable growth markets for 1-7 plastic scrap’, according to ISRI.

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