09 August 2013 09:30 [Source: ICB]
China's "Operation Green Fence" policy is having a dramatic affect on US recycling export markets, market sources said.
The initiative, which China enacted earlier this year, strictly bans the importation of contaminated recycled material and prohibits the import of post-consumer bales.
Recycled material can sometimes contain bits and pieces of trash and other garbage not removed during processing.
The US recycled PET market is suffering from China's policy
An R-PET industry expert said that most of the material banned by China comes from the US east coast. This is likely to add more competition among west coast distributors, suppressing export prices in the region.
"PET bale quality has been declining domestically for a while," said Kate Eagles, communications and administrative director for the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR). "We think the 'Green Wall' puts additional pressure on this."
Eagles said that the US has the capacity to process 2bn lb/year of recycled material. The west coast and Canada have eight PET processing plants; a larger number of plants are on the east coast and in the South, Eagles said.
The west coast "is a smaller playing field", Eagles said. "This is a long-established market. The players [on the west coast] have been doing it for a while and do quality work."
Eagles said that NAPCOR views the "Green Fence" as an opportunity to work with US recyclers on ways to improve bale quality leaving the country.
"I think we certainly have the infrastructure to increase capacity and quality in the US," she said.
According to some reports, China's "Green Fence" initiative has reduced imports of plastic waste to China by 5.5%, to 2.4m tonnes from January-April 2013.
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