If China cuts off all imports of recycle plastics, as reported in the media as possibly occurring as soon as 2018, the impact on recycling industries in the US, Europe and Asia of the loss of a market for 7.3 million tons of recycle polymer would be huge.
The volume of recycle polyethylene traded globally was up 12% through May, 2017, mainly on higher imports into China, followed by gains in other Asia-Pacific markets.
In 2014, global trade in recycle polyethylene totaled 6.6 million tons, up 23%. Trade volume through June of 2015 was 2.6 million tons, down 13%, based on reporting countries. Global trade volume is an indicator of global demand.