China quells waste imports, recycling still continues to grow

By Nina Ying Sun
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: May 20, 2014 9:20 am ET
Updated: May 20, 2014 9:23 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, China, Recycling, CHINAPLAS

SHANGHAI — Even as China reins in imports of waste plastics, its plastics recycling sector continues to deliver double-digit growth. While China remains the world’s largest importer of waste plastics, its domestic collection and utilization of plastic waste is also growing, according to Ning Hongtao, president of the plastics recycling committee (PRC) of China Plastics Processing Industry Association, who spoke at the Green Forum of Chinaplas 2014.

He said the drop of imported waste plastics caused by last year’s Green Fence initiative — 1 million metric tons to be exact — “was not a big decrease compared to forecast.”

Even though some recyclers are reducing their import volume or shifting to other businesses, new applications for import permits have been gradually increasing, he added. More than 3,000 companies in China are registered to import and process waste plastics. But the total number of plastics recyclers in China exceeds 10,000, Ning said.

Imports represent a minority share of the total amount of plastic waste that is recycled in China. In 2013, out of 24.9 million metric tons of recycled plastics, 7.9 million metric tons, or a little more than 30 percent, was imported, based on data compiled by PRC.

The European Union remains the largest source of waste plastics for China, accounting for a quarter of the country’s total import. 

Within the Chinese plastics recycling industry, more than 40 percent of the total volume is handled by mid-sized or large companies that are mostly located in the coastal regions, Ning said. Most of them have fairly established import/sourcing and sales channels and yield relatively high margins.

The large recyclers in the central and western parts of China are primarily engaged in domestic recycling.

Specifically, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shandong and Hebei provinces are the primary distribution and processing centers of recycled plastics, with different focuses in each region.

Tianjin, Hebei and Shandong focus on higher-end low density polyethylene film and high density PE materials. Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Jiangsu demand clean PET, HDPE, polypropylene and some engineering plastics. Fujian has a large appetite for lower end LDPE film. Guangdong consumes large quantities of engineering plastics and some PE, PP and PET waste.

China’s plastic recycling rate has been on a steady upward trend in the past five years, reaching 30 percent in 2013.

The large number of small- and micro-sized recyclers have highly specialized focus of materials, efficient logistics network, and strong competitive edges. But their total lack of environmental protection measures have been on the radar of the government. Ning noted future policies will require recyclers to have environmental treatment and likely give more incentives to larger companies, leaving squeezed space for smaller recyclers.

Some small recyclers will be forced to shut down, and others will move to large recycling industrial parks.

All things considered, Ning said, China needs better regulated and larger recyclers. 


Comments

China quells waste imports, recycling still continues to grow

By Nina Ying Sun
Assistant Managing Editor

Published: May 20, 2014 9:20 am ET
Updated: May 20, 2014 9:23 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Ineos making its UK shale play

November 21, 2014 9:29 am ET

Chemical giant Ineos Group AG is planning to be the biggest player in the United Kingdom's shale gas industry.    More

Image

New York City officials avoid taking a stand on plastic bag fee

November 20, 2014 11:28 am ET

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration claimed Nov. 19 to be committed to dramatically reducing plastic bag consumption in New York City, but ...    More

Image

Agilyx facing nearly $50,000 in fines from Oregon DEQ

November 20, 2014 11:59 am ET

Agilyx Corp., a plastic waste-to-oil company, is facing nearly $50,000 in fines for alleged hazardous waste violations at its Tigard, Ore., research...    More

Image

Environmental group focusing on producer responsibility in packaging

November 20, 2014 11:04 am ET

Athens, Ga.-based environmental group Upstream is out with a new paper entitled “Advancing Local Government's Interests through Extended...    More

Image

NS Farrington 'on track' to recycle 1 ton of PE per month

November 20, 2014 10:23 am ET

A polyethylene recycling program created by N.S. Farrington & Co. has passed the 60,000 pound mark.    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events