In the course of one year, Los Angeles-area exporters cut their scrap polyethylene shipments to China by 99 percent, leaving thousands of tons of plastic looking for a home. Other countries were only able to absorb about one-fifth of the volume.
The U.S. has become a focus of investment for a small yet growing portion of the Chinese scrap processing industry. Backers of two in-development operations note they are looking for regulatory stability and a strong supply of recyclables.
China’s top environmental official has quantified the reduction in scrap materials flowing into the country as a result of recent restrictions. He also spoke publicly about the market fallout and the criticism China has received for enacting its reforms.
Last year presented an upheaval in the global recovered plastics market, and the impacts continue to roll in. Three experts recently shared their thoughts on the specific causes of the volatility.
During a plenary session at the Plastics Recycling Conference last week, major exporters opened up about alternative markets, quality improvements, and operational and contractual changes they’ve made in response to China’s import restrictions.