SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Recycled polyethylene (R-PET) prices in Asia may remain stable in the near term amid shrinking imports of the material in the key China market.
In the week ended 7 November, prices of hot washed R-PET flakes were assessed unchanged week on week at $680-700/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China for clear/white material; and at $640-650/tonne CFR China for blue/green material, with no actual deals done, according to ICIS data.
China’s import quota for R-PET has shrunk to less than 50,000 tonnes as of 7 November and is expected to run out soon, industry sources said.
At least two Chinese customers of a southeast Asian supplier have had their import quotas retracted, possibly for failing to comply with the Chinese government’s environmental standards, market sources said.
Most of those with remaining import quotas for R-PET are in the provinces of Fujian and Shandong, a market player said.
China imported 163,768 tonnes of R-PET in September, down 32.7% from the same period last year, according to official data.
The monthly volumes have declined below 200,000 tonnes since July, when China announced its plans to ban imports of waste plastics by the end of the year.
Source: China Customs
China is a major importer of southeast Asian R-PET.
Some southeast Asian cargoes originally bound for China were heard to have been redirected to other markets such as the Middle East, India and Vietnam, market sources said.
Some said that China could import more R-PET chips or pellets, which are exempted from the ban as they are not classified as waste plastics, to replace the banned flakes.
But other market players said the higher cost and lower viscosity of pelletised material would deter buying interest from Chinese importers.
In China’s domestic market, R-PET flake prices on 7 November were assessed at Chinese yuan (CNY) 7,850/tonne ($1,184/tonne), up by 8.3% from end-October, according to ICIS data.
Buyers are not keen to procure the material since current prices are almost at par with those of virgin R-PET, market sources said.
Focus article by Ruth Loh
($1 = CNY6.63)
Additional reporting by Yvonne Shi and Hazel Goh
Picture: A migrant worker sorts through and prepare plastic waste for recycling in Nanhai, China. (Source: REX/Shutterstock)