How have U.S. exports of scrap paper and plastic fluctuated since China instituted its National Sword policy at the outset of 2018? With data covering the first quarter of 2021 now available, we have updated numbers to help answer that question. The charts below show Q1 export totals for U.S. recovered paper and plastic for each of the past four years. While exports of both commodities have fallen since early 2018 (and for plastics, the decrease has been dramatic), it’s also true that global markets seem to have found equilibrium. In fact, for both paper and plastics, export totals rose marginally from early 2020 to early 2021 – the year-over-year rise for U.S. paper exports was 8%, and plastics saw a 7% boost.
This article appeared in the July 2021 issue of Resource Recycling. Subscribe today for access to all print content.