The Chinese government will not implement a planned tariff increase on OCC and other recovered fiber imported from the U.S., nor scrap aluminum, after the two countries came to an agreement in recent trade talks. But existing tariffs will remain.
Recent actions by the Chinese government indicate the country will likely ban imports of OCC and almost all other fiber grades in 2021. Such a move would come in the wake of industry-shaking mixed paper and plastic prohibitions already in place.
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 plastic reclaimers and greater end market demand for the recycled resins.
This month’s Data Corner was produced by More Recycling.
This article appeared in the October 2019 issue of Resource Recycling. Subscribe today for access to all print content.