Based on latest available statistics, ITP projects a volume of 3.2 million tons of recycle polyethylene traded globally in 2018. This is a decline of 31%, or 1.4 million tons, from 2017. Exports out of Western Europe and North America were particularly impacted, although shipments from all regions were down.
Although virgin polyethylene production capacity is similar in both regions, Western Europe exported 1.4 million tons of recycle polyethylene in 2017, compared with 0.6 million tons exported by from North America.
Shipments in 2017 from both regions were mainly to Asia-Pacific, although 220,000 tons of its total was shipped by Western Europe to Eastern Europe. Exports from both Western Europe and North America declined versus 2016, by 15% and 9%, respectively.
As of January 2018, China’s imports of R-PE have virtually disappeared. Although R-PE imports into Vietnam, Malaysia, Turkey and other countries have been rising, their imports to date are much smaller than China’s. Because of the previous size of Western Europe’s R-PE exports, that region will likely be impacted by the loss of the Chinese market to a greater degree than will North America.
From International Trader Publications’ Recycle Polyethylene World Trade Review – a continuously updated on line analysis of trade trends between countries and regions, based on latest import/export statistics from 46 countries.
The US exported a total of 1.7 million tons of recycle polymers in 2017. Imports into the US of recycle polymers were 429,000 tons, up 2%. Continue reading
China imported 1.9 million tons of recycle polyethylene from all sources in 2017, down 23%. Imports trended lower for most of the year with further declines expected in 2018 as restrictions come into full force. Continue reading
China’s polyethylene imports rebounded strongly in November 2017. This followed a relatively small holiday-related decline in October, versus previous years. Imports of recycle polyethylene continued trending downward, to their lowest monthly volume in the 2013-2017 period.
As US exports of recycle polyethylene and PET dropped to record low levels in October, 2017, US imports jumped, mainly on higher volumes from Canada and Mexico.
China’s imports of recycle PE, PP, PS, PVC and PET totaled 300,000 tons in October 2017, compared with volumes of over 700,000 tons earlier this year and a high of more than 800,000 tons late in 2013.
United States exports of recycle polyethylene, polypropylene, PET and PVC all plummeted in July 2017.
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.