Transition time

Departments - Plastics

January 6, 2014
Recycling Today Staff

With the transition to a new year, plastics recyclers say they are expecting manufacturers to purge excess inventory, making generation appear to increase even as production slows.

A reprocessor based in the Southeast says it is common for suppliers to sell excess inventory at year-end.

A reprocessor based in the Midwest also acknowledges that some manufacturers may be dumping inventory at the close of 2013. He says this practice will mask the decrease in manufacturing that is typically associated with the end of the year.

“Generation will slow as we go into the end of December, when most plants shut down,” the reprocessor based in the Midwest says.

However, as many manufactures gear up for holiday-related shutdowns, a reprocessor based in the Southeast says activity in the automotive sector seems to be increasing significantly as 2013 comes to a close.

As of mid-December, a reprocessor and broker based in the Chicago area had not yet seen the decline in generation that is common this time of year. Instead, she says, domestic generation is holding steady to increasing in light of an improving economy.

Demand for some grades of secondary plastics remains steady, as well. The reprocessor based in the Southeast says, “Demand is high for commodity grades, and even the engineering grades seem to be picking up.”

The Chicago-area-based reprocessor says demand for PP (polypropylene) and PE (polyethylene) is increasing.

“Demand for PP for housing applications is strong, and PE for infrastructure is strong as well,” the reprocessor in the Southeast adds.

Both reprocessors based in the Midwest describe demand for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) as decreasing. “Postindustrial PET is still bad,” one reprocessor says.

“Most other materials are steady,” he adds.

Regarding export markets, the reprocessor based in the Midwest says demand from China increased at the end of November, which he attributes to buyers scrambling to reach minimum shipment thresholds.

“Export will now slow as we approach the Chinese New Year window,” he says of the holiday, which begins Jan. 31, 2014.

In other news that affects plastics recyclers, Coca-Cola is testing a new full-sleeve label on its single-sleeve orb-shaped bottles that are available at Wal-Mart during the winter holiday season.

According to published reports, the sleeve is made from a polyolefin mix that floats, while the PET flakes settle to the bottom of the tank in float tank sorting.

The company says it believes it is the first to market with a full-sleeve label that meets the guidelines established by the Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers (APR). The APR released these guidelines on full-bottle shrink-sleeve labels in August 2013.

For the past 14 years, the APR guidelines, which are based on industry experience, have described how package design affects conventional plastics recycling systems, it can be improved to avoid recycling problems and can be optimized for compatibility with current recycling systems.