After a six-year decline, 2016 became an inflection point for China's PVC scrap imports.
China imported more than 320,000 metric tons of PVC scrap in the first three quarters of the year, already 25.9 percent higher than the full year amount in 2015, according to data by market intelligence provider Chem99.com.
Annual imports in 2016 were expected to exceed 450,000 metric tons once the final numbers are tallied, based on the assumption that monthly imports will sustain at the 36,400-metric-ton level that has been observed. That would mean a 90.7 percent year-over-year increase.
China's PVC scrap imports peaked in 2009 at 1.96 million metric tons, before it started a 6-year slump that hit the bottom of 236,000 metric tons in 2015.
From an end market point of view, China's growing demand for PVC roof tiles contributed to the PVC scrap imports rebound, according to Chem99. In the meantime, price spikes of virgin PVC resins have prompted molders to expand regrind procurement.
PVC grade SG-5, for instance, saw its price jump from 5,450 yuan per metric ton in late June to 7,900 yuan per metric ton in late November, soaring 45 percent in just five months. Chem99 added that PVC regrind has seen a very mild price increase as well, in the lower single digit percentage point range.
The widening price discrepancy between virgin and regrind PVC is expected to continue to boost China's PVC scrap imports.