Plastics markets may be showing signs of an improvement. After months of price declines, several European recyclers say there are signals that plastics markets are turning around.
One Western European recycler says that Chinese buyers are starting to come into the market with slightly larger volumes, although some caution is apparent.
What is helping instill some optimism in the plastics market has been the summer holiday season which typically reduces the flow of plastics during August. With a modest uptick in buying by China consumers, there may be a modest uptick in prices, although one source says it is far from a robust recovery.
Another exporter says that starting in early August there has been a fairly good demand for plastics from Asian buyers. “The pre-holiday is good,” he says. “This follows a mood that was fairly bleak in June and even July.”
While demand has picked up, quality issues are becoming a far more important issue for China. Another source says that Chinese customs agents are becoming stricter with inspections. Earlier this year there were reports of China being inundated with loads of trash that were supposed to be recyclables.
“Over the last two months they have been opening up all the containers,” the exporter says. The result has sometimes been a doubling of the time to move the material from the port to its final destination.
Hong Kong, one of the areas that seemed to attract suspect containers, has recently become a far more expensive area to ship material into. “The duty is so high there that it is almost impossible to ship into the country from here.”
Several dozen Chinese firms have formed an association to lobby for the plastics recycling industry in China. The organization, the China Scrap Plastics Association, seeks to promote the development of China’s plastic recycling industry.