China’s plastic demand to rise as foreign garbage ban to curb recycled supply

Source:Reuters-Global Times Published: 2017/9/13 17:38:40

China's already soaring plastic demand may rise even further as the government plans to ban waste-plastic imports by the end of this year, which will curb domestic plastic recycling.

The expected increase in plastic demand highlights the consequences of China's pollution fight and its efforts to modernize its industry. As part of this drive, the world's top importer of rubbish said in July that it would stop importing garbage by the end of this year.

To make up for the loss of recycled plastic, petrochemical producers and exporters to China from the Middle East, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore are expected to receive more orders for products including polyethylene, a thermoplastic found in almost everything from grocery bags to bubble wraps, pipes, medical devices and even bulletproof vests.

"From next year, demand for polyethylene could get even better as the impact of the ban would be felt," said a source from a Chinese firm that produces and markets petroleum and petrochemical products.

China imported 7.3 million tons of waste plastics last year, taking in over half the world's leftover plastic. Of the 7.3 million tons, polyethylene made up about 2.53 million tons in 2016, and this is expected to fall to between 1.7 million and 1.8 million tons this year, data from IHS Markit Chemical showed.

"The ban of scrap/waste plastics is definitely positive for polyethylene producers as there will be a shift of consumption from recycled polyethylene to prime virgins polyethylene," said J.P. Nah, director of polyolefins at IHS Markit Chemical.



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