More Recycled Pellet Imports Headed to China

Updates from China Replas this year revealed a market update regarding pellet imports. This update was made around the time scrap import restrictions were being introduced in Southeast Asia. Berg Mill shares information on the recycled pellet import update and what effects this has had on the industry.

A Review of the Market Updates

The China Synthetic Resin Association (CSRA) covered updates of import restrictions on plastic scrap in Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam in their most recent newsletter. Recycling Today cites the association revealing, “China has transformed itself from being the world’s largest importer of scrap plastics to the largest importer [of] recycled granulates.”

During this time of new procedures and restrictions, plastic pellets were also being held up in the import process. Southeast Asian nations had followed China’s path in adding more restrictions, which created a backup at several ports and put a strain on recycling’s future. Recycling Today notes—according to the CSRA—that the customs officials in China were too strict in applying conformities. They state, “Those principles refer to uniformity of color, size and shape in recycled material imports.” Even though this standard was being applied, recycled-content pellets were still making their way into Chinese ports.

A Look at the Increase

The CSRA discovered, “China’s imported [recycled-content pellets] have increased from less than 10,000 metric tons per month to 300,000 to 500,000 metric tons per month; the import volume has soared.” Along with China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) and the General Administration of Customs (GACC), the CSRA is working to resolve the issue by gathering industry opinions and determining the core problems at the port.

Conferences and Meetings

The CSRA announced the search for solutions at the April 2018 Spring Conference and May 2018 Symposium on the Regulation of Recycling Plastic Particles, which was hosted by the GACC. The association informed the attendees that they have been working collaboratively with the government and industry experts to reach a resolution by the end of August this year. There was talk of a developed solution at the beginning of June, and the CSRA disclosed that it was “…submitted to the MEE and the GACC.”

Other Sources Speaking Up

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) report that natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bales are reflecting price increases. These prices have not seen much movement since 2016. The HDPE bales, specifically mixed color, have not experienced the same price fluctuations. The CSRA suggests “…that the market is pushing secondary processing further upstream.”

Recycling Today shares the prices courtesy of PetroChem Wire. They state, “…natural HDPE bales sold for 44 to 45 cents per pound freight on board (FOB) east of the Rockies as of late July, while fractional-melt mixed-color curbside bales traded for 16 cents per pound.” PetroChem Wire thinks the natural HDPE increase has to do with the high demand for the material in packaging products like bottles.

At Berg Mill, we will continue to work hard to overcome fluctuating commodity markets, opening markets in other countries for hard to move items such as these, forging strategic alliances, and improving domestic processing capabilities. We would like to help you move off any paper (now including #52 milk carton scrap; please contact us for current pricing), plastic, metal, and textile scrap. Berg Mill has the expertise and know-how to navigate through these troubled waters.

Berg Mill has a long history as one of the pioneers in the industry, and we are not going anywhere even when faced with these challenges. Every day we are making progress, as new homes start to become more and more real for your material whether it be paper, plastic, metal, textiles, etc. If you continue to handle large amounts of recycled waste and are looking for solutions to offload idle scrap, please contact our industry veterans at Berg Mill Supply.