Chicago — China's National Sword program continues to impact plastics recycling around the world.
Processors in that country "may have to switch to prime resin or move their recycling facilities elsewhere in Southeast Asia" as a result of the program, IHS Markit analyst Kailin Fu said at the recent Global Plastics Summit 2017 in Chicago. Fu is associate director of polyolefins and engineering resins for Houston-based IHS.
National Sword is a crackdown on illegal imports and foreign waste, launched in July. Recycled material coming into China now is being inspected at 26 main ports, causing delays of three to six months in some cases. Local factories also are being inspected, with some being shut down or having their import licenses suspended or canceled.
China is the world's largest recycling market. Fu said that recycled material had accounted for 20 percent of Chinese plastics consumption, but that amount now is down to 10 to 15 percent.
Prior to National Sword, Western Europe had shipped more than half of its recycled plastics to China, Fu added, while 40 percent of plastics recycled in the U.S. had been sent there. That material now will end up in landfills or be sent to other countries, she said.
"In the future, large-scale recycling will be needed in China," Fu added.