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Tag Archives: exports

Country lockdowns bring ‘unprecedented implications’

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Container ship unloading at port.

Regulatory changes, and an overall sense of uncertainty, are playing into difficulty moving scrap materials abroad. | 28 November Studio/Shutterstock

Overseas markets for recovered plastic, including Malaysia and India, are experiencing disruption as governments enact widespread restrictions and close ports in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Basel expert lays out changes to come

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Rolph Payet, executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, speaks at the Plastics Recycling Conference and Trade Show.

Rolph Payet, executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions, speaks at the Plastics Recycling Conference and Trade Show. | Plastics Recycling Conference/Brian Adams Photography

Scrap plastic exporters should closely monitor policy changes in the countries they sell to as the global community prepares to enact more aggressive shipment requirements, according to the top staff member for the Basel Convention.

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Exports see another major decline in 2019

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Export shipping containers

The U.S. exported 1.46 billion pounds of scrap plastics in 2019, down 38% from the year before. | qingqing/Shutterstock

Scrap plastic exports from the U.S. continued a steady decrease that has unfolded over the past few years, dropping in 2019 to their lowest total volume since 2002.

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Import policies choke the flow of recycled plastic from US

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In October, India’s imports of U.S. scrap plastics dropped to their lowest single-month volume since at least 2002. | November Studio/Shutterstock

Export figures continue to show the power of recycled plastic import restrictions in Southeast Asia. Countries that were previously the largest overseas markets have seen massive decreases in U.S. plastic imports since mid-2018.

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Data Sort: Export vs. domestic processing for post-consumer plastic

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The graph below shows the downstream trends for four major plastic resins collected for recycling in the U.S. and Canada going back to 2009 (the graph stops at 2017 because that is the most recent year for which figures are available).

From 2009 to 2016, the total amount of post-consumer plastic exported to overseas markets from the U.S. and Canada stayed relatively stable, but that number dropped considerably in 2017. That fact is hardly surprising: China stated in 2017 that it was planning to implement its import ban on many grades of recovered material at the outset of 2018, and the announcement itself caused major market shifts.

On the domestic processing front, the total amount climbed steadily before plateauing between 2016 and 2017. With more material needing a home as many Asian markets enact restrictions, opportunity exists for continued domestic processing growth. The keys will be infrastructure improvements to deliver cleaner loads to reclaimers and greater end market demand for the recycled resins.

Data Sort is produced each quarter by More Recycling. For additional information, go to morerecycling.com.

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Plastics Recycling Update. Subscribe today for access to all print content.

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