Vietnamese Ports Closed to Scrap Plastic Imports

Due to overcapacity, Vietnamese shipping ports are temporarily not accepting any scrap plastic imports. The terminals have received an influx of the material, partially as a result of China’s import ban. In this week’s blog, Berg Mill addresses the issue and how this has caused major delays at Vietnamese ports.


A Look at the Letter

According to Plastics Recycling Update, Vietnam’s Tan Cang-Cai Mep International Terminal sent a letter to shipping companies that reveals “…a major increase in containers of scrap plastic coming through the port.” The source notes that the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) distributed the letter.

Tan Cang-Cat Lai is one of the largest shipping terminals in Vietnam, giving them the power to collect over 8,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of scrap plastic and paper. These numbers are accurate as of May 21 and demonstrate the need to discontinue imports until they can better control the scrap buildup. Tan Cang-Cai Mep, the letter’s author and smaller terminal, is unable to move their 1,132 TEUs to the larger terminal because the excess scrap has become too difficult to manage.


Important Dates to Note

The increased volume in materials has forced both terminals to close their ports until they can mitigate the overflow. Tan Cang-Cat Lai has currently stopped accepting any scrap materials. The letter revealed that Tan Cang-Cai Mep will halt imports containing scrap plastic beginning June 25. The halt is expected to last until October 15 unless the ports continue to struggle with managing the surplus.

Any scrap loads that are received at the terminals will require more documentation starting June 15, as noted in Tan Cang-Cai Mep’s letter. Plastics Recycling Update reports the necessary documentation needed are “…valid import permits and a written guarantee of when the container will be picked up by the buyer.”


Violations Revealed

As China has set quality and contamination standards, Vietnam seems to be following a similar path. The General Department of Vietnam Custom (GDVC) cited an abundance of scrap paper and plastic violations imported into the country. The materials did not meet their quality standards, were improperly labeled, used false import permits, or had not permits at all.

Customs officials are implementing stricter inspections to reduce the violations by taking stock of all containers. Resource Recycling cites the GDVC suggesting, “The potential danger for Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries to become scrap destinations” could be due to China’s material ban.


Market Changes

Sources such as ISRI note they are “…confident this is more to do with port capacity constraints and not a permanent regulatory shift.” Vietnam has housed various recyclables this past year, as China and other countries began rejecting materials. They have received almost double the amount of recovered plastic during this year’s first quarter compared to last year’s initial quarter.

Resource Recycling revealed data that demonstrates the significant increase of U.S. exports to Vietnam. They report, “According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. exporters sent more than 173,000 short tons of recovered fiber to Vietnam from January through March, up dramatically from 57,0000 short tons during the prior-year period.”

Various exporters are viewing Vietnam as another market that has increased since China began rejecting post-consumer scrap imports last year. It has been a beneficial market while trying to circumnavigate China’s restrictions.

At Berg Mill, we continue to work hard to overcome fluctuating commodity markets, opening markets in other countries, forging strategic alliances, and improving domestic processing capabilities.

If you handle large amounts of recycled waste and are looking for solutions to offload idle scrap, please contact our industry veterans at Berg Mill Supply.